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Mary R
(pietimer) - MLife
Oregon 3 day loop ideas? on 04/25/2011 09:40:20 MDT Print View

Hey all,
I'm taking a business trip out to Portland, Oregon in the 2nd week of May and I decided to stay for the weekend and do some hiking. I've never been in the NW states before and I'm pretty excited.
Right now I'm trying to find a good 2-4 day backpacking trip that would be open that early in the year. My current thought is to go to the Columbia River Gorge. From what I've heard, this should be cleared out of snow (for the most part) by then.
Does anyone have any good loop recommendations for the gorge? Or any other places for that matter?

Also, where do I get trail maps for these parks? Would a gps be recommended?

Thanks!

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Oregon 3 day loop ideas? on 04/25/2011 14:20:52 MDT Print View

Best source: http://www.portlandhikers.org/ Excellent forum where you can find out current conditions, and a Field Guide that lists local hikes--subject to the caveat below about this year's snow levels. Retired Jerry, who writes articles for BPL, has done a lot of the writeups for the Portland Hikers Field Guide!

Maps: There are new Green Trails maps of the Gorge this year; I haven't seen them yet. The US Forest Service map, "Trails of the Columbia Gorge" is good for planning.

Snow levels are low, low, low for this time of year. Here are pass cams as of this morning:
http://www.portlandhikers.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=7642
The extended Gorge loops go well over 3,000 feet (most to 4,000) and unless it warms up really soon (not likely given the current extended forecast), you are going to be in deep snow on the higher sections of all of them. If it does warm up, stream fords on loops like Eagle-Tanner or on upper Oneonta Creek will be downright dangerous. Everything (flowers, snow conditions, backyard gardens, you name it) is almost a month behind normal right now.

You can do out-and-back overnight trips on Eagle Creek and Herman Creek. Certainly Eagle Creek to 7 1/2 Mile Camp and back is well worth doing, and the waterfalls (around every corner) are magnificent. You won't get much above 7 1/2 Mile Camp, and you certainly won't get to Wahtum Lake, which is 4,000 feet and in a north-facing basin with heavy old-growth forest.
http://www.portlandhikersfieldguide.org/wiki/Tunnel_Falls_Hike
http://www.portlandhikersfieldguide.org/wiki/Seven_and_a_Half_Mile_Camp_%28Eagle_Creek%29

Another possibility is the Opal Creek hike down near Salem, probably the most spectacular old-growth forest you'll ever see.
http://www.portlandhikersfieldguide.org/wiki/Cedar_Flats_Hike
You'll have to check on conditions; as of last week the trail above Jawbone Flats was still snowy. The bridge is marked closed (one of the two handrails disappeared a couple of years ago and the log is at a slight slant), but should be just fine if it isn't too wet. If either snow or bridge is a problem, you could hike a mile up Battleaxe Creek from Jawbone Flats instead and hopefully find a place to camp. I'm hoping to do this one next month, too.

Be prepared for rain!

The funny (as in funny-peculiar) thing is, that folks were hiking snow-free to well over 3,000 feet elevation back in January! This is the second year in a row in which spring (by the calendar) has been more wintery than winter!

Josh Newkirk
(Newkirk) - MLife

Locale: Australia
oregon trip on 04/25/2011 15:25:47 MDT Print View

I second Mary's idea for the Eagle Creek Trip.

I did it a couple weeks ago, very cool but extremely wet. At least it was the first day and then improved a little.

Mary R
(pietimer) - MLife
Eagle creek on 04/25/2011 17:37:24 MDT Print View

Thanks for the suggestions. I think I will do the Eagle creek hike. Also, thanks for the link to other site. It has tons of information.

Edited by pietimer on 04/25/2011 17:39:58 MDT.