Best Hikes in Oregon: My Top 5
Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I've had a few requests for recommendations on great hikes in the area. Even though we've hiked quite a few trails since we've lived here, I feel like we're just getting started (now that I'm finally in decent physical condition). We have several trails on our "to do" list for the summer, so this ranking could change. Nevertheless, every single one of the following hikes are spectacular and worth checking out.

"Happy trails to you, 'till we meet again..." (sorry, I couldn't resist.)

5. Cape Lookout (Oregon Coast): This narrow, cliff-edged cape juts 2 miles straight out into the Pacific Ocean. The Cape Lookout Trail (located just southwest of Tillamook) is a popular hiking trail, extending 2.5 miles through Sitka spruce forest to the tip of the cape (5 miles round trip). My favorite part of this hike is the view you get of Three Arch Rocks.

This is a great trail for kids and out-of-towners, as the terrain is fairly easy and the ocean views are great!

4. Angel's Rest- (Columbia River Gorge): This is one of the more popular trails in the gorge, and for very good reason. The trail is well-maintained, the scenery is awesome throughout, and the visual reward you receive when you finally reach the top is absolutely stunning. A word of caution regarding the top: this is not the safest environment for young children not confined to either a backpack or carrier, as you're surrounded by very steep drop-offs on all sides. This trail is also quite heavily traveled, so if you're in the mood for being "one with nature", then it may be wise to look elsewhere. This hike is 4.6 miles round trip.

3. Dog Mountain- (Columbia River Gorge): I seriously think my muscles are still recovering from this hike. This could quite possibly be one of the toughest hikes I've done since Eric and I went backpacking in Yosemite in 2001.

The hike is incredibly challenging, the views are some of the best I've seen of the gorge, and the spring wildflowers are absolutely amazing. But I must admit, if it were not for the wildflowers, I don't think I would have enjoyed the hike nearly as much (which is why it's not ranked higher--that, and the rattlesnake of good). If you can, leave the kids at home for this one. I think that was half the battle for us. If not, it's definitely doable. Just be prepared for quite a few rest breaks. This trail is 7.1 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 2,900 feet! Geez!

2. Larch Mountain- (Columbia River Gorge): Wyatt was just shy of a year old when we hiked this 7-mile trail, starting at the base of the magnificent Multnomah Falls and ending at the top of Larch Mountain. I very distinctly remember at that time feeling very awe-struck by the enormity of the falls and thinking nothing could possibly compare. But it wasn't until we started hiking above the falls (away from all of the hoop-la) that I was able to appreciate the true gem hiding ever-so-quietly behind the powerful raging waters. As I'm discovering at this very moment, words really just can't express the serenity lying within this trail. You absolutely need to experience it for yourself.

Once you finally reach the top of Larch Mountain, you are rewarded with breathtaking views (on a clear day) of FIVE Cascade Mountains: St. Helens, Rainier, Adams, Hood, and Jefferson. What a treat!

(view of Mt. Hood from Larch Mtn)

Note: You'll need to park a vehicle at the top of Larch Mountain. Otherwise, you'll be hiking 14 miles!

1. Cascade Head- (Oregon Coast): You absolutely cannot leave Oregon without having first experienced this wild, foggy headland north of Lincoln City. I've never seen a more spectacular ocean panoramic in my life. Round trip this trail is 4.2 miles.

The wildflowers you'll encounter along the way are also very nice. Most likely, it will be very windy at the top. Otherwise, it would be a nice place for a picnic. From what I can remember, this is a great trail for kids. It's been about two years since we've been there. After looking back at the pictures, I think we're going to have to fit this hike into our summer itinerary!

(One of my favorite pictures of the fog rolling in while atop Cascade Head.)

Wine Selection: Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon
Personal Rating: ***Good***
Comments: At Trader Joes, this wine is often referred to as "two buck chuck". For two bucks, it is incredible!!!! You can't even get Boones Farm for two bucks! If you're on a budget, this is a great wine! I want to try the Merlot though. Has anyone tried both?


Blogger Laura had this to say:

Thanks! Hopefully we will get to try at least one or two of these when we come visit. I can't wait!

June 4, 2008 at 9:07 AM 

Blogger Rachel had this to say:

Wow, you read my mind. I was just telling my brother about all the great hikes you guys have done and tried to convince him to head that way for the anniversary trip he and his wife are planning. But apparently they're going somewhere in Idaho. What?? Who goes to Idaho?? Oh yeah, people who are from there, like my cute little sis-in-law. :)

June 4, 2008 at 5:54 PM 

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My Wine Personality:
For the most part I’m a chardonnay, as I consider myself to exhibit a somewhat sunny and mellow disposition (most of the time), but because I find a tremendous amount of joy out of showering my two kids with hugs and kisses, I also possess the subtle sweetness often found in a riesling. But don’t be fooled. I love a great outdoor adventure and am willing to try anything once. This occasional display of boldness is thought to match that of a cabernet, whereas my appreciation for nature suggests that I have an earthy component to my personality—very characteristic of a merlot. (more)


“Wine rejoices the heart of man and joy is the mother of all virtues.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1771