Ask Oregon Questions & Answers
Hello! Lucky you, there are some beautiful places near Bend to ride horses! Here are my top faves:
Greetings from Southern Oregon,
Our outdoors writers always tout that the Pacific Crest Trail runs through our region, through the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, Soda Mountain Wilderness and Sky Lakes Wilderness. Of course, those areas are most popular for longer, overnight treks.
If you want a relatively easy day hike, consider locals’ favorite, the Table Rocks. While the trail to the top of these mesas cuts through the region’s typical, oak-savannah flora, the view from the top of these distinctive geographic and geologic features is unsurpassed: http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20111023/READERSCHOICE/110230356.
There also are popular trail systems through the Jacksonville Woodlands and Ashland’s Lithia Park. For more on the region’s hiking trails, check out the landing page on the Mail Tribune newspaper’s Oregon Outdoors site: http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?category=OREGONOUTDOORS01&keyword=Hiking
Enjoy your trip.
Just south of Portland, you can exit the main freeway and get on to 99W. I would suggest you do this and then sit back and enjoy the ride! You will be soon be entering the Willamette Valley and I will suggest some stops along your route.
One of the first stops should be McMinnville, Oregon where you will find a sweet town filled with shops, restaurants and wine! You will also find the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. This is a great stop and depending on time, you could actually spend several hours there if you wish. From this area, you will be surrounded by our Willamette Valley wine country. If you are wine drinkers, you will most surely want to stop at many of our wineriess. We have hundreds so pace yourselves and enjoy! A few of my favorite stops for tasting are as follows: Adelsheim, Sokol Blosser, Cubanisimo, and Van Duzer.
If you plan to spend a few days traveling, you could certainly check out some B & B’s in wine country as well: www.obbg.org will give you a nice list and be sure to utilize the interactive map to find one to suit your specific area.
If you are into seeing some waterfalls, check out Silver Creek Falls along the way. You can choose to just sight see a bit or take an easy or difficult hike depending on what you want to do. Also a great place for a pic nic too! It’s not too far from Salem, OR however on the east side of I 5 but totally worth the stop!
From the area of Lane County, you will be heading south toward Ashland. You can choose when you’d like to jump on I-5 and make it to Central Point. There you will want to visit Rogue Creamery and Lillie Belle Chocolates.
And if you have time… you will not want to miss seeing our Crater Lake!
There would be many cities, towns and natural areas I would recommend along the 363-mile Oregon Coast for your September birthday trip. Since you like natural areas with unique geologic formations, I’d recommend a visit to the Central Oregon Coast. Newport is centrally located and is one of the coast’s larger towns, but will offer access to great natural areas and attractions nearby. Newport itself features the world-class Oregon Coast Aquarium, has nice beaches and an interesting bayfront area that is blend of working waterfront and tourist attractions. Just to the north is the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area featuring one of Oregon’s prettiest lighthouse in a spectacular setting at the end of the cape offering panoramic views and great wildlife and marine life watching. A stairway leads to one of the most beautiful and easily accessible tidepool areas on the coast. Just a little further north is Otter Rock, another headland overlooking a unique geologic formation called Devil’s Punchbowl. Also worth a visit to the north is Depoe Bay, the world’s smallest navigable harbor. The town is built right on the edge of the ocean with a seawall where spouting horns send geysers of water high into the air when the surf is up. There is a whale watching center here which is one of the most dependable locations to spot gray whales during the non-migratory times of year.
South of Newport, the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area also offers access to great natural areas and viewing of unique geologic formations. Trails and roadside parking areas offer viewing of Devil’s Churn, Spouting Horn, Thor’s Well and Cook’s Chasm, interesting geologic formations driven by the ocean waves. There is a great interpretive center here and hiking trails through old growth Sitka Spruce rainforest.
If you’d prefer to stay in a small town, you could consider Yachats (close to Cape Perpetua), which would make day trips possible to Newport’s attractions and other attractions to the south like Heceta Head (another beautiful lighthouse) and Sea Lion Caves, one of the coast’s longest running attractions with an elevator down to the world’s largest sea cave frequented by sea lions.
There would be other options for your trip in other regions of the coast too. On the
On the North Oregon Coast, I would recommend the Cannon Beach area, home to Oregon’s iconic Haystack Rock, famous for tidepools and nesting seabirds. There are nearby State Parks that offer beach access and viewpoints of sea stack decorated shoreline. Ecola State Park is located in the north end of Cannon Beach and Oswald West State Park is located just about 10 minutes to the south. Cannon Beach is another charming beach town known as one of the coast’s more upscale destinations and one of the Northwest’s top art towns.
Elk Lake Resort (www.elklakeresort.net) might be a good destination for you. Cabins allow pets, though not sure about the “run free” part. There is a beach, however, on the other side of Elk Lake that I know allows dogs off-leash. It’s called Little Fawn. Fishing is popular on the lake, as well as sailing, stand-up-paddle boarding and the like. Only other caveat is that until the Cascade Lakes Highway is plowed of snow, which typically happens around Memorial Day or later, you can’t get there except for on skis or in a snowcat! But for a summer destination, this one is great. You might also check out Paulina Lake Resort and Odell Lake Resort. Have fun!
In Oregon salmon run almost year around on one river or another.
First are spring Chinook; they start in March but the best fishing is April and May on the Columbia, Willamette and Rogue Rivers and May and June in Tillamook Bay.
June also has some good summer Chinook fishing in the Columbia.
Next is the fall run on the Columbia, the best fishing in August and early September in Astoria and then closer to Portland later in September.
Fall Chinook inter all the coastal bays in September and last until November.
November and December we do well in the coastal rivers.
Which parks on the coast offer yurt camping? We want to stay close to Portland and are traveling with our young grandson.
The State Parks closest to Portland that offer yurt camping include the following (north to south):
Fort Stevens State Park at the mouth of the Columbia River offers 15 yurts. The park is large and is great for families with access to river, beach, lakes and several miles of hiking and biking trails. The park is famous for the 1906 shipwreck Peter Iredale on the beach and military fortifications used to guard the entrance to the river from the Civil War through World War II. From here you can make day trips to other attractions in Astoria, Lewis and Clark’s Fort Clatsop and Seaside, known as one of Oregon’s best family destinations with arcades, an indoor carousel, kiddie rides and more that your 6-year-old grandson would love. Visitors have come to the small Seaside Aquarium for 75 years to feed the seals.
Nehalem Bay State Park is located near Manzanita and offers access to both bay and beach. The park has 18 yurts and nearly two miles of biking trails. During July, the Park’s interpretive programs and guided hikes would be offered daily and they have Junior Ranger programs for kids ages 6-12. Seals are frequently seen basking on the beach near the mouth of the bay (also take note of the coyote warning the park issued last summer). I would suggest you take your grandson on a crabbing aventure. Jetty Fishery on the other side of the bay offers boat and crab gear rentals or crabbing from the docks.
Wet of Tillamook is Cape Lookout State Park with miles of beach and hiking trails. There are 13 yurts available. I love this park and this area. It is just a few minutes away from the small town of Oceanside and Cape Meares State Park (lighthouse and panoramic views). To the south is Cape Kiwanda with its giant sand dune on the flank of the sculpted sandstone cape.
The next closest park with yurts is on the Central Oregon Coast. Devil’s Lake State Park in Lincoln City offers 10 yurts and is a short drive to the beach, but is not on the beach. You may want to consider Beverly Beach State Park north of Newport. It’s a large park with 21 yurts and a playground. I still remember as a child following the trail along the creek from the campground, under a highway bridge and emerging at a long stretch of beach between Yaquina Head and Otter Rock. The park is a short drive to Newport’s attractions like the world class Oregon Coast Aquarium, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Wax Works wax museum and Undersea Gardens. Natural attractions include the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area (lighthouse, panoramic views and great tidepool area) and Devil’s Punchbowl at Otter Rock.
Do make your reservations early. Call 1-800-452-5687 to check on availability and make your reservations (online reservations unavailable). These parks also offer small cabins as an option.
Happy exploring and memory creating!
Greetings from Southern Oregon,
The most commonly recommended time to travel the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway is June through October, mainly to ensure clear roads, fair weather and more daylight hours. Volumes of water running in the falls largely depend on wintertime precipitation. We’re off to a good start for this year, considering the flood warnings throughout Southern Oregon several weeks ago. And Crater Lake started seeing enough snow in October to close some roads.
You could plan your trip in mid- to late spring, but mountain travel in this region could still be unpredictable then. If I were planning the trip for myself, I would check the National Weather Service’s precipitation records for this region throughout the winter to confirm they were average or above, obtain extended weather forecasts for the period that I wanted to visit and verify favorable road conditions on ODOT’s website, www.tripcheck.com.
Here’s a story from the Mail Tribune newspaper on the Rogue-Umpqua waterfalls that may help: http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080313/LIFE/803130301&cid=sitesearch
Thanks for the great question. I am the Ask Oregon expert on outdoor recreation and the Assistant Manager of the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Adventure Center, and these are my recommendations for easy hikes in Oregon away from the city. Since Oregon is so rich in variety, I’ve included hike suggestions for northern Oregon, central Oregon to the coast, and southern Oregon as a sort of sampler platter into what the state has to offer. I assume that by easy you mean, easy to find, well-maintained and signed, and good for hikers of all skill levels from kids to seniors.
To the east of Portland you can find endless options for easy hikes. One of my favorites is the Eagle Creek Trail where you will pass half a dozen waterfalls like picturesque Punchbowl Falls (4.2 miles roundtrip). From Punchbowl Falls you can keep on hiking, but it will get steeper as you go, around the six-mile mark you will come across Tunnel Falls, a 120 foot waterfall that has a tunnel built through it. If you feel up for the longer hike and elevation gain, it’s well worth the effort.
Southeast of Eagle Creek, on the other side of Mt Hood, is another great hike (3 miles round trip) that leads to Bagby Hot Springs. The trail follows along the Collawash River through an old-growth forest of douglas firs and cedars. This is a great hike for viewing wildflowers in the spring and rich fall colors in October and November. You can reward yourself with a soak in the rustic hot springs bath house where the tubs are carved out of cedar logs, but be aware, swimsuits are rare.
The first two hikes can be crowded when the weather is nice. If you want to get away from the crowds, go to the Mount Jefferson Wilderness and Canyon Creek Meadows (4.5 miles to the lower meadow). This is one of the best easy hikes to high cascades wildflower meadows. Blue lupine and red paintbrush peak at the end of July. This trail leads you to a scenic viewpoint of Three Fingered Jack (7.5 miles round trip). On the way back to the trailhead you will pass beaver ponds and waterfalls.
Central Oregon offers hikes of a different color – reddish brown. There are tons of great easy hikes away from the city in the central portion of the state. I am always amazed with the beauty around Smith Rock State Park. The trails around the park are relatively easy. Don’t worry though, If you get tired, there are many benches along the way to rest your legs and while you’re resting look up at the rocky cliffs and you’re almost guaranteed to see thrill-seeking rock-climbers defying gravity, Smith Rock is a world renowned climbing destination.
The McKenzie River National Recreation Trail is an all-season favorite of mine. Stretching 26.2 miles from Clear Lake to McKenzie Bridge, you can find a number of easy hikes along the way. Sahalie & Koosah Falls are two spectacular waterfalls about half a mile apart. You can park at either Sahalie Falls or Koosah Falls’ convenient trailheads right off Highway 126 and hike in a loop between the two falls (approximately 2.6 miles). Continue west on highway 126 and take the turn-off for Trailbridge Reservoir. From here, follow the McKenzie River National Recreation Trail 1.5 miles to Tamolitch Falls. Old lava flows have shaped the landscape of the McKenzie River Valley and part of the river flows underground only to re-emerge at Tamolitch Falls. It’s brilliant blue water will amaze you and beg you to linger before hiking back to your car.
If you continue west on Highway 126 you will reach the Oregon coast. A great, easy hike along the way is Sweet Creek Falls, just outside of Mapleton. This 2.2 mile trail passes a dozen small waterfalls and is a favorite among kids who can play in the shallow water when it’s warm and collect fallen leaves in autumn.
To really get away from the city, you have to go to the southeastern corner of the state. A notable easy hike here is Steens Mountain Summit. This is the ninth tallest mountain in Oregon and arguably the easiest to climb. The landscape is unlike any of the previously mentioned hikes.
Oregon’s natural beauty shines on all of these hikes. Get to know the landscape and what shaped it and you will enjoy each of these hikes even more because every trail tells a story.