North Cannon Beach/Ecola State Park (at low tide)

Cannon Beach/Ecola park Cheat Sheet

Hiking Distance: 5 – 6 Miles
Elevation Gain: 0′
Difficulty: Easy
Traffic: Moderate/Heavy (but spread out)
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Kid-Friendly: Yes
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: Yes
Horses Allowed: Yes
Parking Fee: No
Bathrooms: Public restrooms
Features: Rock formations, tide pools, wildlife/ocean life
Distance from Burnside Bridge: 79.5 Miles

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Cannon Beach/Ecola park

I’ve been to Cannon Beach quite a few times, usually with visitors who wanted to see Beacon Rock so I usually walked south. I’ve also hiked much of Ecola State Park but only through the forest.

Turns out that the beach part of Ecola State Park is absolutely phenomenal, which is what I’m recommending on this “hike.” On the foggy day that I went, it was like visiting another planet (see photos below).

This is more of a walk than a hike and I hadn’t originally intended on blogging it, but afterwards really wanted to share it with folks.

If you can, wear neoprene water shoes so you can adventure around in the water. I went barefoot, which is doable, but did lose some feeling in my feet after a while which was a bit of a concern.

Final and most important tip: Check the tide tables before you go and go at low tide. This was the best tidepooling I’ve ever done!

Notes for getting there: I usually stop at the public restrooms before moseying down West 2nd Street and down the stairs to the beach. Get there early if you go during the summer because parking can be a problem. I arrived around 8:00 a.m. on a Friday during August and managed to get a spot right at the end of the street near the beach. There are other access points to use if you get there during a busier time, so do your research and plan ahead (but expect a little chaos).

Burnt Lake

Burnt Lake Cheat Sheet

Hiking Distance: 6.8 Miles
Elevation Gain: 1420′
Difficulty: Moderate
Traffic: Heavy
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Kid-Friendly: No (some difficult water crossings, one short ridge)
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass
Bathrooms: One porta-potty
Features: Wildlife, streams, lake, views of Mt. Hood’s peak
Distance from Burnside Bridge: 53 Miles

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You’ll start this hike by filling out a hiking permit at the trailhead. Make sure you carry your stub with you in case you get stopped by a ranger!

The forest on the trail to Burnt lake has a very special feel to it. I noticed it on my way in, and on the way back three separate hikers mentioned it to me as they walked beaming through the woods, saying things like “My, this is lovely!” and “Isn’t this just so nice?!” So be sure to connect with that feeling during the early part of your hike.

I recommend wearing boots or waterproof shoes since there are many areas where a stream crosses or covers the path. I went in early August and there was lots of water so I’m sure there’s much more during rainier seasons. There’s also one creek you’ll need to cross either by balancing on a fallen log or trudging through with waterproof shoes.

In the intro, I put that it’s not a great hike for kids, but that depends on your kids. If they can handle the streams/creeks, one ridge, and an almost 7 mile hike, then it might be really fun. The elevation gain is gradual and the lake is a huge payoff. You can do a loop around the crystal clear lake while looking for wildlife. I saw an otter!

Notes for getting there: I’d recommend using these GPS coordinates. Once you cross the bridge you’ll travel another 2 miles on a paved road until you reach Lost Creek Campground. Go left here and stay on the gravel road another 1.3 miles.

Forest Park – Newton Rd/BPA Rd/Wildwood Trail

Newton/BPA/Wildwood Cheat Sheet

Hiking Distance: 4.3 Miles
Elevation Gain: 1024′
Difficulty: Strenuous
Traffic: Light/Moderate
Trail Type: Loop
Kid-Friendly: No (strenuous)
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Parking Fee: None
Bathrooms: No
Features: Wildlife, Streams, Views
Distance from Burnside Bridge: 10 Miles

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The north end of Forest Park tends to be a little less crowded than the south end. I hiked this loop starting at 8:00 a.m. on a holiday weekend and only ran into 4 other people, which is pretty light traffic for Forest Park.

The solitude is slightly disrupted by the sounds of airplanes and ship horns, but that can be hard to get away from when so close to the city and the river. The second half of this hike will take you a little deeper into the park and is a bit quieter which is why I suggest following the loop in the direction that I do.

BPA road gains some serious elevation for about a full mile, but rewards you with stellar views of the Willamette River that make the climb totally worth it. You’ll have lots to look at while catching your breath.

I hiked this trail in the summer, but noticed a few spots that could cause some very wet feet during the rainy season. Wear waterproof shoes if the weather calls for it.

Trail Directions: Start at the northern gate of the Newton Rd parking lot. Follow Newton Rd for about 1.7 miles to BPA Rd. Turn left up BPA Rd. Follow for about 0.9 miles until you reach Firelane 13. Turn left to stay on BPA road. Follow for about 0.6 miles until you reach Wildwood Trail. Turn left on Wildwood Trail. Follow for 1.15 miles until you reach Newton Rd. Turn right on Newton Rd to head back to the parking lot.

Notes for getting there: Starting downtown, drive NW on Skyline Blvd. At the intersection of Skyline & Cornell, reset your odometer. Once you’ve reached 5.1 miles past that intersection, you’ll reach Newton Rd. Turn right on Newton Rd and follow it 0.3 miles down to the parking lot. Newton Rd is a single lane. Drive slowly and watch for oncoming cars. Here are the GPS coordinates for the Newton Rd parking lot.

Silver Falls Trail of Ten Falls

SILVER FALLS Cheat Sheet

Hiking Distance: 2 – 8 Miles. Short loops make it easy to choose your own adventure.
Elevation Gain: ~ 500′
Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
Traffic: Heavy
Trail Type: Loop
Kid-Friendly: Yes
Dogs Allowed:  Kind of. They’re allowed on Rim Trail, Bike Path and Perimeter Trail but prohibited on all other trails including the Canyon Trail where most of the waterfalls are found.
Bikes Allowed: Yes. A four-mile paved bike path starts from the overnight campground and follows Silver Creek to South Falls Lodge.
Horses Allowed: Yes
Parking Fee: $5 (exact change needed)
Bathrooms: Yes. Near South Falls Day-Use Area.
Features: Waterfalls, canyon, giant anthills
Distance from Burnside Bridge: 58 Miles

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Thank you Teddy Roosevelt for this gem of a park! I categorized this hike as Santiam State Forest, though it’s technically a separate state park in the same area of Oregon as Santiam.

And what a lovely hike it is. You can catch more waterfalls in this hike than you could if you spent the same amount of time in the Multnomah Falls area. The terrain is rolling and not too strenuous. If you take your time pausing at all the falls and exploring every nook and cranny of the park, you can spend most of the day wandering around.

These Silver Falls photos say more about the hike than I ever could, so I’ll let you peruse them instead of blathering on. This is a very busy hike, so try to aim for weekdays or even winter weekdays if you don’t love a packed trail.

For more info, check out the Silver Falls trail map and guide.

Saddle Mountain

Saddle Mountain Cheat Sheet

Hiking Distance: 6 Miles
Elevation Gain: 1700′
Difficulty: Strenuous
Traffic: Heavy
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Kid-Friendly: No
Dogs Allowed: Yes (use extreme caution)
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Parking Fee: None
Bathrooms: Yes
Features: Views, Wildflowers, Dense Forest, Picnic Tables along Trail
Distance from Burnside Bridge: 72 Miles

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Saddle Mountain is a must-do for any avid hiker in the Portland area. The views are spectacular and the changing scenery and rock formations keep things interesting. It’s a tough hike but worth it if you don’t mind (or even enjoy) those dizzying moments as you climb ever upward.

Theres a side trail about 0.2 miles in that you should definitely check out. I think it’s one of the best views on a hike full of amazing views.

If your dog is clumsy, like mine, you may want to leave her home when you hike this one. There is wire fencing on the path in some places to help with erosion which could trip your dog, and other areas that are just generally dicey.

Because this is such an amazing hike, the trail tends to get busy. Try checking it out on a weekday if that’s an option for you.

For more info, check out the Saddle Mountain Trail Guide.

Here’s a link to the Saddle Mountain trailhead location.

Still Creek Trail

Still Creek Cheat Sheet

Hiking Distance: 3.2 Miles
Elevation Gain: 300′
Difficulty: Easy
Traffic: Light
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Kid-Friendly: Yes
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Parking Fee: None
Bathrooms: Pit toilets at campground
Features: Old-growth Forest, Creek, Solitude
Distance from Burnside Bridge: 49 Miles

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This little-known hike is a lovely and quiet stroll through an old-growth forest. It is a great choice of you have kids or if you want to take a walk in nature without pushing yourself too hard.

You’ll walk along Camp Creek only briefly at the beginning of the hike and Still Creek briefly at the turnaround point, but can hear rushing water often throughout the hike. There aren’t any fancy views or waterfalls, but the quiet and solitude of this hike make it feel special.

After hiking for about a mile and a half you’ll reach a road. Cross the road and walk down to the creek for a nice place to sit or have a picnic. This is your turnaround point.

Here’s a link to the Still Creek Trail Map.

Notes for getting there: The Still Creek Trail can be tricky to find. It begins at the Camp Creek Campground, which is 22.4 miles east of Sandy, off of U.S. Hwy 26. If heading east, the campground sign will be on your right. After pulling off of 26 into the campground, take a left at the first fork and a right at the second. Park across the road from the pedestrian bridge.

Here’s a link to the Still Creek trailhead location.

 

Powell Butte Nature Park

Powell Butte Cheat Sheet

Hiking Distance: 1 – 9 Miles. Short loops make it easy to choose your own adventure.
Elevation Gain: 300′
Difficulty: Easy
Traffic: Heavy
Trail Type: Loop
Kid-Friendly: Yes
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: Yes
Horses Allowed: Yes
Parking Fee: None
Bathrooms: Yes
Features: Meadows, Wildflowers, Forest, Mountain Views
Distance from Burnside Bridge: 12 Miles

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Located deep in SE Portland, Powell Butte is my favorite place to go when I’m itching to get out of the city but don’t have a lot of time. There are 9 miles of trails to explore, featuring meadows, wildflowers, scenic views, and then a surprise turn into a thick forest where the only sounds are those of the birds and your own footsteps.

There’s usually a good amount of hiker traffic on a sunny day, but I’ve been here on rainy days where I didn’t run into a single other soul on the trail. The top of the butte features a “mountain finder” which, when the sky is clear, can help you identify which distant mountain is which. Five mountains are viewable from the top, weather permitting.

There are a few paved trails for bikes and wheelchair access and those trails will get you to the mountain finder. If you’re looking to get a lot of miles in on your bike, look elsewhere, since many of the trails are off-limits, but you should be able to fit in a mile or two of easy loops with the kids.

Here’s a link to the Powell Butte Visitor Center.