60 Hikes within 60 Miles Portland  by Paul Gerald

60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Portland Guide Book

by Paul Gerald (Menasha Ridge Press)
60 Hikes within 60 Miles Portland  by Paul Gerald
Each hike contains a brief overview of the trail, a description of the route from start to finish, key at-a-glance information—from the trail’s distance and configuration to contacts for local information—GPS trailhead coordinates, and directions for driving to the trailhead area. Each profile also includes a map (see “Trail Maps,” previous page) and elevation profile (if the elevation gain is 100 feet or more). Many hike profiles also include notes on nearby activities.

© 2018 Paul Gerald/Menasha Ridge Press. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Portland" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 60.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 60.

As you drive out I-84, you can actually see Angels Rest, a flat-topped rock outcropping sticking out over the road at the end of a ridge. What looks like a building on top is in fact a clump of trees. You should also be able to make out the effects of the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire, much of which burned the same area as a 1991 fire near the summit. Angels Rest Trail #415 starts off easy enough, then hits a rocky climb that’s steep only for a few moments, leading to an early reward: a rare view from above a waterfall, in this case the 100-foot Coopey Falls, named for Charles Coopey, a Portland tailor who owned land here. A short way past this, the trail crosses a wooden bridge over Coopey Creek; just below this bridge, you can take a side trail down to see 35-foot Upper Coopey Falls. Beyond the bridge, the trail starts climbing again.
Bridal Veil, OR - Hiking - Trail Length: 8.6
As soon as you start walking, stay straight at an unsigned junction, and you’ll get your first glimpse of the contrasts ahead when you’ve walked only 500 feet on this trail. At this point you’ll be at the top of a little bluff, looking out over a wide area of rocks. Those rocks used to be on the upper slopes of Mount St. Helens, but on May 18, 1980, they tumbled down the hill at about 45 miles per hour, part of a lahar, or mudflow, triggered when the Shoestring Glacier melted moments after the volcano erupted. But the mudslide stayed generally within the boundaries of the Muddy River, so the forest you’re standing in—even though it was within feet of the slide— was spared. You’ll spend the next 5 miles climbing this ridge, but don’t worry: you’ll gain only around 1,500 net feet along the way.
Cougar, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 11.6
It seems that everybody in the area knows about Bagby, even those who have never been here. The name itself seems to stand for something about life in the Pacific Northwest: soothing, relaxing, a retreat from the hustle and bustle, a journey back to the days of the ancient forest and natural elements. Well, it’s not just that. It can get a little crazy on weekends, and the chances you’ll be the only one there on any given day are slim. On weekends, you might have to wait to get your soak, unless you start early. If so, just wander around and enjoy the absolutely magnificent forest surroundings.
Estacada, OR - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.6
There are more-spectacular hikes in the Mount Hood area, but none offers the same combination of solitude and old-growth beauty. It’s also perfect for a picnic or just a dose of sunshine, in a high-altitude meadow with Mount Hood towering above. From the trailhead, walk across FR 3531 and into the woods on Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) #2000. Stop to admire the relief map of the PCT in Oregon and contemplate some of the distances. People who hike the whole PCT in five or six months average about 20 miles a day—and when they get to Oregon, it’s often more like 30. You’ll get in 4–5 miles today—a distance most PCT long-haul hikers fly through.
Barlow Pass, OR - Hiking - Trail Length: 10.0
Let’s start with the road, because there’s a chance that when you mentioned Battle Ax Mountain or Elk Lake to friends, they told you they had their teeth rattled out of their heads while driving up there. First, the road has been worked on quite a bit in the last few years, and second, I got my 1992 Nissan Sentra up there with no problem. Sure, I was going 5 miles an hour at times, but I made it just fine. While you’re up there, consider spending the night at the campground, which costs only $10 but has a reputation for a little weekend rowdiness. It’s a great base for exploring the whole area.
Detroit, OR - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.5
Beacon Rock got its name on Halloween 1805, when William Clark described it in his journal. It was originally called Beaten Rock because of the weather, but apparently something got crossed up in transcription. For the Corps of Discovery and the people who then lived along the Columbia River, Beacon Rock meant two important things: the last of the rapids on the Columbia River and the beginning of tidal influence on the river.
Stevenson, OR - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.8
Epic That’s the word that always comes to mind when I think of this hike. By the end of the (long, often hot) day, you’ll feel like you’ve been on an adventure. And as you sit atop Silver Star, with all the slackers who came up one of the easy ways, you can tell ’em you ain’t done nothin’ if you ain’t done Bluff Mountain Trail. Speaking of those “easy” ways, one of them, Ed’s Trail, is described in the Silver Star Mountain profile (Hike 19, page 102). Its access road is even worse, but the hike is easier than this one. The third option, via Grouse Vista (not in this book), has the advantage of good road access but the disadvantage of being dull and crowded.
Yacolt, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 13.2
Like a refuge of tranquility amid a sea of logging operations, the area along the South Fork Breitenbush River is often described with words like peaceful and magical The hot-springs resort (see Nearby Activities) is itself a draw, but pleasant walks through the forest and along the river beckon. One option is to register for a day pass at the resort and start your hike at the Spotted Owl Trailhead, off the parking lot. After 1.1 miles, during which you cross meandering Devils Creek, you come to Cliff Trail. Turn right and climb a fairly steep 0.5 mile, including some semiexposed sections along a cliff, to Devils Ridge Trail, which climbs steeply to Devils Lookout and Devils Peak (details below). If you’d rather stay on Spotted Owl Trail instead of turning on Cliff Trail, you’ll come to Emerald Forest Trail in 0.5 mile at a junction described below.
Detroit, OR - Hiking - Trail Length: 8
This trail has it all. Come in late June, as soon as the snow has cleared, and enjoy a mind-boggling display of rhododendrons among the old-growth forest on the way to Pansy Lake. (Bring bug repellent.) Come in late summer and pick huckleberries up on the ridge. Or come in fall, when the ridge is awash in color and the mountains might see their first snow. Just make sure you get here; the long drive is more than worth it. Bull of the Woods Peak is the second-highest point in the 27,000-acre Bull of the Woods Wilderness, which boasts more than a dozen lakes bigger than an acre, 68 miles of hiking trails, and even the world-famous northern spotted owl, which you almost certainly won’t see.
Estacada, OR - Hiking - Trail Length: 7.0
This trail has been sort of emerging for years: from off-limits private property to conservation struggle to informal trails to finally full-on U.S. Forest Service– approved design and maintenance. (You can get all the history at gorgefriends.org) Now that it’s official, with tunnels under the highway and everything, it’s really two hikes put together: an upper section of 2.6 miles to viewpoints high above the river, and a lower section of about 4 miles that skirts the edge of cliffs just above the river and visits a waterfall—but is closed February 1–July 15 every year to protect nesting peregrine falcons.
Skamania County, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.3
When you park at this trailhead, you’ll have three options to choose from, and it’s all downhill from here. Of course, you’ll have to come back uphill to get to your car, but even the 800-foot climb from the beach is so well graded, you’ll hardly be winded when it’s done. (On our elevation profile for this hike, I’ve included the beach route and the cape route.)
Tillamook, OR - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.8
At the start, you might think you’ve got it made, because it’s all downhill and steep— it loses about 500 feet in the first 0.5 mile. Too bad you have to walk back up at the end of the hike. The forest here is a young one of mostly Sitka spruce; notice that only the tops of the trees are green. That’s because these lower portions don’t get any sun. Notice also the large stumps; there’s one right on the side of the trail that you can get on top of and measure for yourself.
Otis, OR - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.4
There isn’t much to this hike, physically speaking. In fact, you could knock out the paved and wheelchair-accessible section below the road in about 15 minutes. It’s really all about the flowers and the wide-open vistas uncommon elsewhere in our local hiking world. Just try to avoid weekends if you can, or start early or late; crowds here have gotten nuts in the last few years. From the road, walk through a gate and choose a path to the right, toward a small canyon just up the hill. If you’re like me, you’ll stop within a few feet and start admiring flowers. One enthusiast has counted as many as 82 species in bloom here on an April day, with such fantastic names as chocolate lily, common bastard toadflax, least hop clover, poet’s shooting star, rigid fiddle-neck, great hound’s-tongue, slender popcorn flower, small-flowered blue-eyed Mary, and chickweed monkey flower.
Mosier, OR - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.1
On that rare nice day in early spring—nice meaning it’s not pouring—when you want to get out and do some hiking, here you’ll find fairy slipper orchids and Clackamas lilies in bloom. And if it’s blazing hot in summer and you want to visit a cool, shady place, or it’s autumn and you want to see the fall colors—whatever the time—it’s always a nice day to go out and hike the Clackamas River Trail. If you can bring a second car to stash at Indian Henry, it’ll be that much better. A lot of folks put bikes there and ride them back afterward. Otherwise, you can do essentially the same distance and make a fine day of it. (You’ll avoid a potentially wet-footed creek crossing if you come in from a single car at Fish Creek.)
Estacada, OR - Hiking - Trail Length: 8.2
If you want to get way, way up there, this is your hike. In the days before Timberline Lodge and the road to it were built, Cooper Spur was the standard climbing route to Mount Hood’s 11,239-foot summit, and people still climb it that way today. The whole area, in fact, is historically significant. Just up a hill from the trailhead, at the end of the road, is Cloud Cap Inn. Built in 1889 by two prominent Portland families as a recreation destination, it’s the oldest building on Mount Hood. The hotel venture never took off, however, and by World War II the property was given to the U.S. Forest Service. In 1956 the Crag Rats, a Hood River–based climbing and rescue organization, took it over, and they maintain it to this day.
Parkdale, OR - Hiking,Off-Highway Drives - Trail Length: 6.8
Standing at the trailhead, looking up at Coyote Wall, you might feel a bit intimidated. Fear not, for the way is gradual and the work rewarding. Just walk around the gate, and follow the old road along Locke Lake and eventually around the base of the wall itself. Turn left onto Trail #4426 and immediately you’re faced with numerous trails. Mountain bikers zip through here in every direction, but our path is always the one to the left and uphill. Follow #4426 until, just under a mile out, it runs into Little Moab Trail #4429. Take #4429 and follow it to, and then up and along, the top of the wall. Just less than a mile up from the junction with #4426, the trail leaves the wall and you reach a junction where the #4426 comes back in. Here, you have a choice to make: high, medium, or low.
Bingen, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.2
This is probably the most popular of the real hiking trails in the Columbia River Gorge—“real” meaning it requires some real effort. But with an easy-access trailhead, great views of the river, and sunshine and wildflowers at a time when it’s usually still raining in Portland, it’s no wonder everybody on Earth comes here.
Mosier, OR - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.9
Eagle Creek is easily one of the classic and most popular hikes in Oregon. It’s easy to get to, is easy to hike, and traverses a deep, forested canyon filled with waterfalls. With that in mind, start early, or go on a weekday, so you won’t have to share the trail with the rest of Oregon. And, taking the 2017 fire into account, mourn the loss while admiring, for the rest of our lives, nature’s recovery powers.
Gifford Pinchot National Forest, OR - Hiking - Trail Length: 12.0
If I were to tell you there’s a place where you can skip through meadows and over creeks, picking berries all the way, and wind up in a flower-filled wonderland with a snow-covered peak above it, and that if you wanted, you could climb up through more meadows to a rocky point with a huge view of everything around, right up where the water blasts out from under the glaciers, you’d be interested in that, right? That’s this hike. And if all you’re doing is going to Elk Meadows, there’s only one moderate hill between you and your destination. In fact, you and the kids could walk a flat mile, see two mountain streams, and have a ball. And you could do the whole thing in an easy day or spend the night on an easy introductory backpack.
Government Camp, OR - Hiking - Trail Length: 12.0
The trail starts out flat through forest that’s less than 60 years old, passing among huckle berry, Oregon grape, and Douglas-fir. Not much to see here, but at least you don’t have to work hard. A hundred yards in, ignore Trail #152 on the left and continue up Trail #152A. (If you’re doing the loop to the top of the falls, you’ll see #152 later.) After 0.5 mile, you’ll traverse meadows with a view of an interesting rock formation to the left. In this area you will also find western larch, which normally grows east of the mountains. You won’t notice this unless you visit in October, when its needles turn a dramatic gold. Soon after this, you’ll cross Falls Creek on a suspension bridge over a narrow gorge; look for some cool round, water-formed rock faces.
Bare Mountain, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.1