Cape Perpetua

Cape Perpetua has been on my list for a long time (I know I say that about almost every hike…), ever since my boyfriend told me about it when we first met ~3 years ago. We’ve been wanting to go for a long time, but it’s so darn far from Portland: 3.5 hours!

Today I finally got the chance, as I was in Corvallis, OR for the weekend and only had to drive 1.5 hours to Cape Perpetua. I parked at the Cape Perpetua Visitor’s Center and took the Cape Cove Trail under the highway, then took a left turn towards Thor’s Well and Spouting Horn. After checking out those views, I went back to the original intersection and took the right turn, leading towards Devil’s Churn. After seeing Devil’s Churn, I went back the way I came and back to the Visitor’s Center. My entire route was about 2.5 miles and 450 feet in elevation gain.

Thor’s Well is a big hole in the tidepools, most likely started as a sea cave, that appears to drain the ocean. With each wave, water crashes into the walls and sprays the surrounding area. I don’t think I went at the right time, but try to time your visit an hour before high tide so you can see the well fill up and then produce explosive waves.

Right after Thor’s Well is Spouting Horn, an “ocean geyser.” With each wave, water is forced through a hole in the shore and produces what looks like a geyser. This was my favorite attraction of the trip. If you go back past Thor’s Well and follow the trail to Devil’s Churn, you’ll pass beautiful ocean views and coastal forests.

Devil’s Churn

After Devil’s Churn, I headed back to the Visitor’s Center where I parked and realized that I was only a 20 minute drive from the Florence Sea Lion Caves. Again, this is something I’ve wanted to see since I was a little kid.

Sea Lion Caves

The Sea Lion Caves in Florence, Oregon have been privately owned since 1932 and costs $14 admission for adults. It is the largest sea cave in America and has wild Stellar Sea Lions and California Sea Lions that come and go as they please. I am glad that I went, but overall the attraction is probably much better for young children and very overpriced. You’ll take an elevator down to the caves, and there’s pretty much one window that you can look through to see the cave. Including reading every sign and watching a 6-minute documentary, I was in-and-out in about 15 minutes. I just hope the price of admission goes towards sea lion conservation, in which case it is justified.

Quick Facts

  • Views of Thor’s Well, Spouting Horn, and Devil’s Churn
  • Park and start trail at Cape Perpetua Visitor’s Center (NOT day use area and NOT the Cape Perpetua Trailhead that Google maps will take you to)
  • Recreation pass needed
  • ~2.5 miles and 450 feet elevation gain
  • Out-and-back type
  • Access to beaches and tidepools

Pros

  • Accessible for people of varying fitness levels (and dogs)
  • Beautiful views of the ocean
  • Several other trails and campgrounds nearby
  • Close to Florence Sea Lion Caves

Cons

  • Trail is paved and alongside the highway, so it is not as remote and natural as I would like
  • Sea Lion Caves is overpriced and better suited for young children
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Crater Lake

When I told people I had never been to Crater Lake, I’d often get the answer, “Really?? But you’re from here, right?”  Yes, I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and for 21 years, had never seen Crater Lake.  I decided that I would change that this month, so I got a day off work, booked a hotel, and went to Crater Lake with my family!

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Wizard Island is actually another volcano that formed after the eruption of Mt. Mazama, which created Crater Lake.

We entered the park through the North Entrance and then drove the entire Rim Drive.  The entire Rim is only open until late October, so I think we made it just in time.  However, the Lodge closed 6 days ago, so we did just miss that.  Some highlights of the Rim Drive were the Pinnacles, the Rim Village, the Phantom Ship, and the Pumice Castle.

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The Phantom Ship is an island that looks just like a ghost ship.

Right now, the Rim Village is the only place to get food at the Lake so it was a little busy.  There were good views and some exhibits about the Lake’s history inside the cafe.  There is also a gift shop and visitors’ center at the park headquarters that plays a 22-minute movie about the park.  The headquarters is also the trailhead for the Lady of the Woods hike, one of the few hikes in the park that allows dogs.

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The Pinnacles

One of my favorite stops was the Pinnacles.  They are stalagmite-like rock formations.  Thousands of years ago, lava and debris from a volcano eruption flowed through this area and steam from the bottom of the lava flow escaped up to the top, hardening the rocks that it flowed through.  Over time, the soft rock eroded and left the hardened steam vents, creating the Pinnacles.

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On another note, the Woodsman Country Lodge in Crescent, Oregon is a lovely place to stay.  There aren’t many hotels close to Crater Lake besides the lodge that is in the park and Crescent is only an hour away.  The Woodsman Country Lodge is super cute and woodsy, a great price, clean, dog-friendly and the staff is very nice and helpful.  It is right next to the Mohawk Restaurant, home to great comfort food and an amazing taxidermy collection.

On the drive back to Portland, we stopped at the High Desert Museum in Bend.  I love museums and this one did not disappoint.  Not only are there traditional museum exhibits about Native Americans, pioneers, and nature, there are live animals that represent the wildlife found in the High Desert.  I am often skeptical of zoos and worry about the animals, but all the animals in this museum were rescued and could not survive in the wild due to injuries.  I saw river otters, a bobcat, porcupines, owls, eagles, a tarantula, and a rattlesnake!!  Isn’t it amazing that all these animals live here in Oregon?!

Quick Facts

  • Woodsman Country Lodge in Crescent is a great place to stay, and right next to Mohawk Restaurant.
  • The Rim Drive is an awesome way to see the whole park and has several stops for views along the way.
  • Some must-see stops: The Pinnacles, Phantom Ship, and the Pumice Castle

Pros

  • Absolutely beautiful lake and high desert scenery
  • Most viewpoints have information about the science and history of the Lake
  • The Rim Drive is great for people who cannot hike
  • Lots of options for hiking if you do not have dogs

Cons

  • Very few hikes allow dogs
  • Few places to stay close to Crater Lake
  • When the Lodge is closed, food is only available at the Rim Village

Cape Falcon

Finally, I went on a hike without a waterfall!  I actually found Cape Falcon by googling “hikes near Cannon Beach” and choosing a moderately difficult one.  It was my dog Kiki’s first time at the ocean and her first real hike with me so I didn’t want to start her out on something too difficult.

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Absolutely beautiful trail reminded me of the Olympic National Rainforest with all the ferns.

About a mile in to the trail is a fork in which the left path goes down to the campground and a beach.  The right path continues for another mile and a half to Cape Falcon.  On the way up I decided to head to the Cape first and catch the beach on the way back.  I saw a group of about 20 people on a mushroom picking guided hike, which was pretty cool.  I don’t think I would trust myself to identify which mushrooms are safe to eat, but I think it would be fun to pick mushrooms on a hike!

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First view of Neahkahnie Mountain from the trail.

It is about 2.5 miles to Cape Falcon and maybe 500 feet elevation gain, but starts to get EXTREMELY muddy halfway through.  Most of the trail is exposed tree roots with mud puddles in between, which would be fine if I had worn waterproof shoes (I just wore my Nikes), but for a 7 pound Maltese, each tree root was an obstacle for her to jump over.  She also hates getting her paws wet or muddy (I know she’s a spoiled princess) so we went pretty slow for most of the trail.

Cape Falcon has great views of Neahkahnie Mountain and the Pacific Ocean waves crashing against the cliffs.  You can sit and have a snack and walk around to get different ocean views in all directions.

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This is facing the direction opposite of Neahkahnie Mountain.  Views all around!!

On the way back down, I decided to take the route to beach access because Kiki had never seen the beach before.  It is a little over a quarter mile to the beach from the sign on the trail.  It was not a crowded beach because I don’t think many people know about it.  There is also a campground right by the beach that I’d love to stay at one day.  I have never been beach camping but it sounds lovely to sleep listening to the ocean.  I did not spend much time at the beach because it turns out my silly dog hates water and would not even walk in the wet sand…

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Some surfers at the beach, but otherwise quite private and not crowded.

Quick Facts

  • ~5 miles round trip, ~1000 feet elevation gain total
  • Beach access
  • Good parking, no pass needed

Pros

  • Not too crowded
  • Quiet, lesser known beach
  • Beautiful rainforest-like scenery with views of the ocean

Cons

  • Extremely muddy, uneven trail

Trillium Lake

What could be better than floating in bright blue water with an awesome view of Mt.  Hood?  Trillium Lake is one of my favorite places to hang out in Oregon.  I went for the first time last summer with my giant floating donut and a ton of friends.  We staked out a place on the shore to play frisbee and then floated on the lake drinking beer for a couple hours.

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Floating on a donut ~ summer of 2017

This year I took a more athletic approach and brought my boyfriend and two inflatable kayaks.  Kayaking around the lake was awesome.  I got so many comments on the inflatable kayak.  I have the Intex Challenger which I bought on Amazon for $55, including the kayak, a manual pump, and an oar.  I am not sponsored by Intex, but I have convinced so many people to buy them that I should be!  (Just a tip, if you are going to drink beer in your kayak, do not spill!  My bf and I both spilled beer and thought we cleaned out the kayaks before deflating, but when we used them a month later, we were greeted with the horrible smell of stale beer.)

Kayaking

Upgraded to kayaks ~ summer of 2018

Trillium Lake is great for kayaking because boats with motors are not allowed so you will not be waked.  If I had a stand-up paddle-board I would love to take it here too!  Swimming in the lake is fun too because the water is quite warm.

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My boyfriend enjoying the view of Mt. Hood

Want to add other adventures to your lake trip?  There is a campground on the lake but it is very popular and fills up fast.  If you want to camp, Salmon River Campground and Still Creek Campground are pretty close.  There is also a very easy hike around Trillium Lake that is only about a mile round trip but has great views of the Mountain and goes over some boardwalks on swampy areas.  Some close-by hikes that I like are Umbrella Falls (see my last post) and Mirror Lake to Tom, Dick, and Harry Mountain.

“Time wasted at the lake is time well spent”

Quick Facts:

  • Need NW Forest Pass or $5 daily fee
  • 7 miles from base of Mt. Hood
  • Mile long hike around lake

Pros:

  • Beautiful view of Mt. Hood
  • Great for kayaking, rafting, floating, swimming, etc.

Cons:

  • Gets extremely crowded
  • Limited campsites

Umbrella & Sahale Falls

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Umbrella Falls

After the Columbia Gorge fires last year, I have felt some serious waterfall withdrawals.  Luckily, there are plenty in Oregon and Washington if you’re willing to drive a little further.  This past weekend I looked through a book on Waterfalls in Oregon and chose Umbrella Falls because (a) I have never been and (b) it is less than 2 hours away.

The Umbrella Falls Trail (#667) starts in the Mt. Hood Meadows parking lot.  I was disappointed when I saw the waterfall was only 1/4 miles into the trail because I like ending my hikes with waterfalls as a reward. I lucked out because surprise: walking just over a mile past Umbrella Falls is Sahale Falls! Two waterfalls in one hike sounds pretty good to me!

Umbrella Falls reminded me of Ramona Falls in that it cascades and maintains contact with a rocky surface rather than plunges over a cliff.  There is a cute little footbridge over the stream too.  It is so picturesque that I stumped across a photo shoot for a wedding. IMG_0614.JPGThere is a fork in the trail a little bit past Umbrella Falls.  If you want to see Sahale Falls, follow the direction on the sign and go right.  The sign says the Falls are in a mile, but according to my Apple Watch, it is a little further.

It is very easy to miss the turn off to Sahale Falls (in fact, I missed it the first time and added about a mile to my hike before a kind stranger redirected me).  The turn off will be on your right and you will have to scramble down a very steep and dusty path to get a good view of the falls.  I had to slide on my bottom and grab onto tree trunks.  This is why I do not recommend taking small children or a dog on this hike, although I saw two German Shepherds make it down okay (my tiny Maltese would not be so agile). 

The base of the falls is very Gorge-esque.  There is a pool at the bottom of the falls which cascades into smaller waterfalls as the stream continues.  There are rocks you can sit on to eat a snack or take photos of the Falls.  You can even wade or swim in the pool if you do not mind the ice cold water.

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Sahale Falls

I turned around after taking several photos of Sahale Falls and unfortunately most of the elevation gain on this hike is on the way back, once you’re nice and tired.  I gained about 700 feet in 2 miles, so it really wasn’t that bad.  Overall I walked 4.5 miles and gained a total of 1000 feet, but I did add almost one extra mile by passing Sahale Falls and turning around.  The trail does continue past Sahale Falls and who knows what comes next?  It might be worth exploring if you would like a longer hike.

A quick recap of the Umbrella Falls hike:

Quick Facts:

  • ~4 miles out and back, can be made longer
  • ~1,000 feet elevation gain (300 one way, 700 the other)

Pros:

  • Not crowded on a Saturday
  • Two waterfalls
  • Pretty easy Good parking lot

Cons:

  • Very dusty trail (black shoes were grey by the end)
  • Treacherous and easy to miss path to Sahale Falls

The Journey Begins

Welcome!

Thank you for stumbling across my brand spankin’ new blog.  A year ago, I started an Instagram account to keep track of my many hikes in the PNW.  I had so many photos and stories, and keeping them all in my head and iPhoto library was not gonna cut it anymore.  I figured, if I’m going to catalogue my adventures, I might as well share it with the world.  Well it turns out, people like learning about all the fun they can have here in Oregon and Washington.  Instagram captions are pretty small, and I have a lot to say, so here I am world.  Follow me for photos and information about hiking, kayaking, and general exploration (as well as other random thoughts) and please reach out to say hi if you’re so inclined.

Let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure ~ Albus Dumbledore

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Trillium Lake ~ my favorite place to kayak and eat entire bags of bbq chips on the shore