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Is May it a good time to hike Crater Lake?

First things first: Winter rules Crater Lake National Park. It can start closing seasonal roads in mid-October and last through June. An average year sees 44 feet of snow dropped on the park. Obviously 2015 hasn’t been an average year. So with that in mind, things can change dramatically but if I were to place a bet… I think it will be open. You might get cold. But the road should be open. Please review current conditions before your visit. Highway 62 and the road to Rim Village (Munson Valley Road) are plowed and open all year. However, snowy and icy road conditions can occur anytime, resulting in temporary road closures.

If you’re looking to camp, I’d recommend Mazama Campground and Lost Creek Campground. Both Campground loops and sites open as snow removal progresses. But keep in mind that snowmelt can last through June and while snow persists, mosquitoes may be numerous. And at Crater Lake… they’re pretty numerous. For more on the current weather at Crater Lake, click here.

As far as hiking trails go, this is where things get fun!

There is so much to see and there are so many trails to hike. Here are a few of the best hikes I’ve been on and my all-time favorite hikes near Crater Lake.

  1. Wizard Island:

This hike is unlike anything else. To get started, check the park tour boat schedule and buy a ticket. You’ll begin your hike down the rim to Cleetwood Cove and then ride the boat to Wizard Island. When you get there, you’ll be invited to hike to the 6,940-foot top of the island… which will show you how it got its name. Afterwards, you’ll ride the boat back to Cleetwood Cove and hike the steepest part of the outing back to your car. Or you could stay, take in the sunset, swim in the clear, icy-blue water or have a picnic on the rocks.

  1. Pacific Crest Trail

Beginning from the west at Seven Lakes trailhead, head toward Devil’s Peak. Or, alternatively, head for the south part of the wilderness and hike the trail up Mount McLoughlin, Southern Oregon’s highest mountain.

  1. Mount Scott

The highest point inside the park is actually Oregon’s 10th highest mountain. Crazy, right?  Fortunately, it’s a relatively easy five-mile round-trip hike that gets lots of use when accessible, which isn’t usually until July through early October.

Other hikes to include:

  1. The Watchman’s Tower
  2. The Pinnacles
  3. Mt. Thielsen

What is the best way to see Jordan Valley by car?

This is a really great question! I actually took a driving tour through this same area of Oregon at the end of October last fall. So, for starters, I’d say that time is one of the best to go. I don’t think you’d want to go any later than the middle of November (too cold!) and no sooner than August (too hot!).

If you start your road trip near Burns, you can drive through both Malheur and Mud Lakes (they’re not really lakes, more or less dried up lake beds). This area of Oregon is completely different from any other I’ve experienced but it was mesmerizing how big the sky was and how nice the people were. From there, you can continue southeast on the 205 through Frenchglen. I’d recommend staying at the Frenchglen Hotel. It’s a quaint hotel that was built in 1916 by a meat-packing company but now hosts five rooms for guests. Just across the road from the hotel is an awesome wildlife and bird viewing area. I walked around in there for about three hours and didn’t get bored once. Even in late October there were plenty of critters to see and there was a family of bald eagles nesting about 50 yards off the road. It was incredible! After leaving Frenchglen a fun option and short drive to the Pete French Round Barn is really cool. Otherwise, you can drive up to the top of Steens Mountain and look out at the Alvord Desert about 300 feet below you, stretching out for miles.

Other options would be to bypass the mountain road and take a dip in some of the local hot springs. Mickey Hot Springs and the Alvord Hot Springs were great and it only cost $5.00 to check them out and drop my toes in.

If you continue taking HWY 205 SE you’ll find yourself among one of the most jaw=dropping places in Oregon: the Alvord Desert. You can drive over and through it, you can camp in it, you can do just about anything you want to do there. It’s similar to the Salt Flats in Utah but way, way more intensely beautiful. And if you take the Fields-Dieno Road all the way back up to HWY 95 East, you’ll get to the Jordan Valley with some time to spare.

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Where I can snowshoe with my pooch?

I’m glad you brought this question up, because I was a little hesitant to bring my dog along with me to Bend last weekend. Fortunately, U.S. Forest Service regulations allow dogs, leashed or unleashed, on the south side of Century Drive, en route to Mt. Bachelor. I’d highly recommend Wanoga and Edison Sno-Parks.

There’s also a dog park on the far right side of the parking lot at Mt. Bachelor. I’m not sure if this is affiliated with either of the sno-parks, but there are plenty of dogs playing and running around in this area, so if you’re up for skiing at Bachelor, a lunch break at the dog park isn’t so bad.

Wanoga Sno-Park is great, too. And it’s probably the only groomed, dog-friendly sno-park in Oregon.

Edison Sno-Park sits in the shadow of Mt. Bachelor. The mountain acts as a pretty great wind block but the trails aren’t groomed. When the snow is good, I’d recommend this area, but when it’s icy it can get a little treacherous.

I came across this site for you to look at, too. In case you have any more questions, feel free to email me back and I can help you find some more dog-friendly activities.
http://centraloregonmagazine.com/dog-friendly-ski-snowshoe-trails/

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Are there family-friendly places in Oregon to go zip lining?

The first few options for zip-lining that come to mind are Tree to Tree, Rogue Valley Zipline, and High Life Adventures, depending on which part of Oregon you’re traveling in.

Another recommendation that is family and kid-friendly is Camp Dakota Adventures. They offer 6 different zip lines as well as a Challenge Course for you and your family to navigate your way through the tress, over barriers and between ropes.

If you have any more questions, I’m happy to help, so please let me know!

Thanks a lot,

Kristen

What are some good drives to see waterfalls that are just a short hike from the road?

Thanks for the question!  There are some very easy-to-follow routes for waterfall lovers.  I recommend you either order a free copy of the Oregon Scenic Byways magazine or view it online as it really outlines the routes with beautiful pictures.  As far as the time of year, there will be more water at other times of the year (winter, spring) however in August there is still more than plenty of water for the waterfalls.

From North to South

I-84 and the Columbia River Gorge: This is the iconic waterfall route in Oregon that includes Multnomah Falls (the states tallest).  The waterfalls in this area are breathtaking and also easy to access from the road.  They tend to be more crowded given the proximity to Portland.

Silver Falls: Given the short distance of the Columbia River Gorge, I suggest visiting the falls and then backtracking.  If you love farm land, make your way south through Mollala and Silverton to Silver Falls State Park.  This might be one of the best places to visit for waterfalls and hiking.  It’s just beautiful here.

Highway 126 – Florence to Sisters: Sweet Creek Falls is one of my favorite waterfall hikes is near Florence and the Oregon Coast.  The numerous falls parallel the trail and in the summer months the water is warm enough to wade into.  If you continue inland along Hwy 126 you pass Eugene and head into the McKenzie River Valley.  About an hour and a half drive from Eugene, you will arrive at Sahalie and Koosah Falls, two beautiful falls that are along the McKenzie River National Recreation Trail.  You can park at either waterfall and hike in a loop to see both.

Bend: Highway 126 east links up with Highway 20 which heads into Central Oregon and leads you towards Bend.  There are some beautiful falls in Bend, including Tumalo Falls.  From here you can head south along Highway 97 to Highway 138 west.  Highway 138 offers access to the north entrance of Crater Lake (this entrance is only open in the summer months) and parallels the wild and scenic North Umpqua River.  One of the highlights of the waterfalls on this route is Toketee Falls.  There isn’t much of a hike to get to this waterfall, but there are other waterfalls along Highway 138 with some more hiking.  If you want to hike here, I recommend seeing the falls and then cross the road to hike along the North Umpqua Trail (just watch out for poison oak, which is extremely thick in this area).

I hope this helps you plan a great trip.  Let me know if I can offer any more suggestions.

Answered by Cari Soong on March 5th, 2014 - Post Your Answer

What are some good family-friendly lake resorts where we can go kayaking?

There are some really cool places to visit where you can enjoy a vacation rental with access to kayaking.

Twin Lakes Resort is a paddler’s dream as no motorized boats are allowed. It is in a rather remote area between the Willamette Valley and Bend. The drive is beautiful along the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. Not really known for wine and more renowned for its craft beer, Bend is relatively close and a fun town for all ages. If you are more adventurous you can explore the Deschutes Paddle Trail.

Crescent Lake Resort is a beautiful lake near many other lakes that can be explored by kayak. Cabins line the lake. Explore nearby Waldo Lake- one of Oregon’s purest lakes where motorized boats are banned.

Cove Palisades State Park has some really cool cabins along the water. Like Twin Lakes Resort it is in a rather remote area.

Loon Lake Lodge is located along the beautiful Oregon Coast near Reedsport on Loon Lake where you can enjoy kayaking. You can pass through two different wine regions to get here- Southern Oregon (known for Cabernet and Syrah) and the South Willamette Valley (known for its Pinot varieties).

There are more, but these seem to me to be the most family friendly, with great kayaking opportunities. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any more questions.

Answered by Cari Soong on December 20th, 2013 - Post Your Answer

Where can I take my family rafting, fishing and hiking near Eugene?

Thanks for the question.  I suggest a trip east on Highway 126 from Eugene.  You can raft on the McKenzie River.  There are numerous guided trips.  I highly recommend Helfrich Outfitters and if you want to begin and end at Belknap Hot Springs Resort check out High Country Expeditions.  To get a great view of the Cascades take the scenic drive up Highway 242 a few miles from Belknap Hot Springs to the Dee Wright Observatory at the highest point of the road.  You can climb to the top of the observatory and view 360 degrees of the Cascades with a cool compass of sorts, that helps you figure out which peak is what.

You can fish in numerous spots along the McKenzie.  Some popular places are at Leaburg Dam and along the shore.  One of my favorite places to fish is at Clear Lake at the headwaters to the McKenzie River.  You can rent a row boat and drop a line in and troll while you take in beautiful scenery atop strikingly clear water.  (Here’s a tip if you do- use corn as your bait, with a very light weight sinker). In Eugene, you can also find some decent fishing near Autzen Stadium in the Alton Baker Canal and in Junction City at the Junction City Pond.

Check out www.eugenecascadescoast.org for more ideas on a trip in this area or stop in at the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Adventure Center in Springfield for more ideas and maps.

I hope this helps.  Let me know if you have any more questions.

Answered by Cari Soong on November 24th, 2013 - Post Your Answer

Where are some good spots for a scenic Oregon camping and fishing trip?

Thanks for the question! As you can imagine there are a ton of great places to camp and fish in Oregon. The following is a list of my favorites based on region.

Coast: Gold Beach or Loon Lake near Reedsport. There are some really cool coastal campgrounds in both locations. Tugman State Park and Umpqua Lighthouse both offer yurt rentals on site and are close to fishing sites. Lobster Creek Campground is a small site with access to both river fishing on the Rogue and proximity to saltwater fishing.

Central Oregon: Is home to numerous lakes with fishing and camping. Waldo Lake, Crescent Lake and Odell Lake near Oakridge, Elk Lake near Bend, Detroit Lake, and Lake Billy Chinook.

Southern Oregon: Summer Lake (Ana Reservoir) and Klamath Lake

These are just a few of the places in the state that you can fish and camp, but some of my favorites.

Let me know if I can help with any more questions. Fish on!

Answered by Cari Soong on October 2nd, 2013 - Post Your Answer

We want to go camping near good breweries in Eugene. What do you suggest?

Thanks for the question!  There are a couple of camping options near Eugene.  I think the best one is Armitage County Park.  It’s about equal distance to Hop Valley and Agrarian Ales.  You could actually bike to both, there is a very wide shoulder or bike lanes.  The campground is also conveniently located to Coburg Road which runs right into downtown Eugene and close to Interstate 5.  The price is a little on the expensive side because the sites are really catered to RV camping.  Some other campgrounds that are just a little further away from the city center are Schwarz Park in Cottage Grove on Dorena Lake, Sharps Creek in Cottage Grove and Richardson Park along the shores of Fern Ridge.

I hope this helps.  There are more options if you look for sites near Fall Creek Reservoir, Blue River Reservoir and out towards the coast in the Whittaker Recreation Area (not the same Whittaker as the new Brewery District in Eugene).

Answered by Cari Soong on September 5th, 2013 - Post Your Answer

Where should I start a hike on the McKenzie River Trail?

Great question! The McKenzie River Trail is one that is near and dear to my heart. I like to think of the trail as 3 different sections. The upper portion begins at Clear Lake. You can hike around the lake which is very beautiful (or rent row boats by the hour). The trail continues on from the southwest corner of the lake and before you know it you’re at Sahalie Falls and then Koosah Falls. These two waterfalls will impress you and the trail around here is very lush and picturesque. If you continue hiking down the trail you will notice that after a while the river disappears (it goes underground for a few miles). You can continue through this section, or after Koosah Falls loop back up the trail to your car at Clear Lake and shuttle to the next trailhead which would be at Trailbridge Reservoir. Take a right at the stop sign after you cross the river and head up the road to a parking area. Follow the trail on the right and in about 1.5 miles you’ll reach Tamolitch Falls aka Blue Pool. This is an out-and-back trail. If you still have time after these two hikes I would continue west on Highway 126 and stop at Belknap Hot Springs Resort. Here you can either give in to temptation and pay the $7 for an hour of relaxation in the swimming pool fed by natural hot springs, tour the beautiful property or hike a few miles down the trail (westward).

So the three sections in summary:

Upper McKenzie: Clear Lake to Koosah Falls (beautiful, scenic, waterfalls) Parking available at Clear Lake Resort, Sahalie Falls and Koosah Falls

Middle McKenzie: Trailbridge to Tamolitch (fire and ice, forest and lava, and beautiful Blue Pool)
Parking available at Trailbridge Reservoir

Lower McKenzie: Belknap Hot Springs to McKenzie Bridge (hot springs, and lush forest)
Parking available at Belknap Hot Springs Resort, Deer Creek Rd, or the McKenzie River Ranger Station

Answered by Cari Soong on July 31st, 2013 - Post Your Answer
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