Tag Archives: state park

A park run by a state government, usually much smaller than national parks or a wildlife refuge.

High Into the Mountains

It was yet another nice Saturday. The weather was cloudy early which allowed me to catch up on a few things and enjoy some coffee. By late morning the skies had cleared and it was going to stay like this the rest of the afternoon. Hard to pass up the opportunity for nice weather so I decided to head to the Tillamook State Forest for a high along Elk Ridge up into the mountains.

Not far along the Elk Creek Trail there is a small footbridge crossing the creek. This is the Wilson River Trail and leads to the Idiot Creek Loop Road near the summit of the mountain. I have been past this a few times but never had any interest till this afternoon. I didn’t know what I would find but I was excited to find out.

I think I ran into one person who was coming down rather close to the trailhead and that was it. It was a very quite trail this late in the afternoon which was really nice. Not long after the bridge the trail quickly starts to climb. The switchbacks are numerous as the trail snakes its way up the mountain. Most of the hike was in the shade and it was getting cold outside with the slow sun on the horizon. Near the top as I got closer to the ridge line sun was finally peaking over, making an appearance. One last switchback and into full sun.

Neared the top of the trail I found an small opening in the trees. I followed it for a few feet as it bursts through the last of the brush to an amazing view looking across the valley. This late in the evening I was treated to a spectacular view of the sun as it slowly set in the west. There was no foliage on these rocks so a perfect place to site and watch nature. I was awe struck by what was in front of me. After the long hike to get here I welcomed this break.

I took off my gear and settled in for some writing and drawing as the sunset. I could have spent hours on this perch but as it got into early evening the sun would be completely behind the mountains and I didn’t want to get caught out on the trail in the dark. While I had plenty of day light from on top of the mountain that would quickly change long before last light.

It was time to leave so I gathered my stuff and started my way down the mountain. I didn’t feel tired after that long rest and relaxation period. This was great as I kept a good pace down the mountain trying to bet the light. By the time I got to the creek crossing it was 6 with a decent amount of light left. From here it wasn’t much further to my car. One thing I did after this trip was put my headlamp in my day pack so it is always with me.

I just couldn’t believe my luck taking the Wilson River Trail and finding this rock ledge. Just the most amazing sight and really easy to get to all things considering. The only gotcha is the trail has a limited season. The park service takes down the footbridge at the end of October. Not sure when it goes back up but I have a feeling sometime in late spring. I honestly can’t wait for the trail to open.

Spring is Coming to Silver Falls

Spring is starting to bloom around Portland and the weather was good over the weekend so I wanted to get out for a hike. I went to Silver Falls State Park and do some drawing and writing. This park has a lot of waterfalls that are close to the parking lot so you don’t have to walk far if you don’t want to. I often spend most of my time hiking and not drawing so this time around I wanted to reverse that order.

The only rain on Saturday was early in the morning and close to the city. This caused a flood of people to head outside and I totally understood why. Due to covid-19 restrictions the park has limited capacity so with the nice weather the park was smashed. Coming in from the north I passed several parking lots to trail heads but none of them had any free spots.

It was so busy in the park that none of the lots had available parking. There where just way more people than spots allowed. I wanted to get outside because I’m tired of the pandemic and so was everyone else that day it seemed. Thankfully I found a parking lot in the south west with some spots open right next to a trail head, 214 Trail.

This parking lot is right at the edge of the park. That day it was windy and cold along the ridge but thankfully no rain. It was also sad to see that right next to the parking lots is giant plot of land just on the other side of the park completely deforested, devoid of life actually. This is the only time you see this jarring image as the trail head is on the other side of the lot and you head into the forest.

214 Trail

This part of the forest has some larger loops, a skills challenge for mountain bikes and if you go far enough you will end up at the convention center which is currently closed. While there is not a waterfall anywhere along this trail it is still very peaceful and relaxing walking through the forest. You can head north and eventually get to a fall or take the long loop and enjoy nature.

As I headed down the 214 Trail I think I ran into…..two groups of maybe 3-4 people in total. It was nice not having a crowded trail. I knew if I parked in the main lot I would have run into a ton of people often along the trail. This day I really wanted to get out and just have some peace and quite so finding this lot and trail really worked out.

You start the hike at the ridge line and work your way down into the valley. I eventually got to the convention center and just kept going. From here the trail starts up the hills on the other side of the valley. I kept looking for a nice spot with a good view but never found what I was looking for. I really wanted to get some writing done and color some van Gogh post cards but I could never find right spot. I totally lucked out when I found the cliff on the Wilson River Trail a while back. That was a great view and awesome spot to recharge at.

Finally just sat under a huge tree and smoke while soaking up nature.

Eventually I just found a bend in the trail and sat underneath a huge tree. The picture I took “upside down” on the tree trunk was my spot. I sat here for a long while just soaking up nature. I would look way up into the trees watching them sway back and forth with the wind. Hearing the wind rustle through the top of the trees. And the smell. Just a hint of pine in the air reminding me I’m outside in nature. I couldn’t get enough of it to be honest. I never did do any writing or drawing but it didn’t matter. It was still a great time.

After just sitting there for a long time I eventually continued my journey down the trail. After another mile or so I realized that the trail I was following would loop back but I had MANY miles to go before I would even start my way back to the lot. Instead of plowing ahead I turned back and went the way I came. It was already after 3pm and I was loosing light fast.

What a great hike in the forest. Not what I was expecting but then sometimes the unexpected is what is the most fun. When things loosen up and the park is more open I might head down later in the year. I would love to go back to one of the waterfalls, sit at its base and do some drawing.

New Day, New Year; 2021 Edition

I’m happy to see 2020 is finally over. Honestly not much will change in 2021, at least for the foreseeable future, but its a new year. New year means getting out into nature with Jenny!

Some artwork we found while walking in the park. Not sure who made it or the title.

With everything going on and the weather not playing in our favor this year we kept it simple. No trip out to a remote forest or up into the hills after some fresh snow. We went to Washington Park which is super close for both of us.

Early in the morning and on a holiday the park was pretty quite. I could see zoo staff driving around and doing their jobs. The animals in their care don’t care its a holiday. They still need to be tended to. We had our choice of lots so picked one further north and just started wondering around the many park trails.

I knew we couldn’t get lost but I should have taken the picture of the trail map BEFORE we started and not after the fact. It was only a mild drizzle and once we got into tree cover a lot of the rain disappeared as well. It turned into a great hike around the forest. There was an early morning chill in the air that caused a nice layer of fog to appear in the tree tops which contrasted nicely with the rather clear forest floor. The weird winter weather of Portland was simply doing its thing again.

cheers

We didn’t run into many people and those we did were mostly runners enjoying the early morning start to the day and the year. Once we wondered back to the car we opened a bottle of champagne I had to celebrate. I realize now we never actually toasted anything that I can remember. As soon as I unscrewed the metal wire securing the cork the pressure immediately shot that cork off. The bottle then proceeded to vomit a good portion of perfectly fine champagne for its homies.

What a great way to start the new year after a shit year we had in 2020. I know just flipping the year wont change much but mentally its a fresh start which is good. I hope Jenny and I can continue to celebrate life’s little joys throughout this year with friends and family.

Dalton Point Recreation Site October 2020

I just needed to get out of the house. I wanted to do some writing in a new location outside and after thinking about it, and delaying for a while, I headed to Dalton Point Recreation Site along 84W. It was just the right distance from home to get a nice drive in but it wouldn’t take all day to get there or back. It was also late in the afternoon so I decided to pick this place to watch the sunset since it was along the river.

I wanted to take back roads for part of the trip but the directions took me straight down the highway. Coming from the west you actually have to drive past the entrance and turn around. There is no way to get here directly coming from the west. Even with the double back I still made it there in very quick time.

It’s a boat launch so I parked in the lot for the trailers. From here I found a trail and just followed where it went. Eventually it opens up to the water front. It was low tied so the shoreline was exposed. I was able to find a spot and catch the sun as it set that evening. It was cloudy but I knew it was there.

This is an easy spot to see the sunset. Depending on the year it will set right over the river so you can see it pretty far down from such a low angle. On my way off the beach I found a spot for a camp fire if you got some wood. The fall weather along the water was a little chillie that evening so a fire would have been nice. If you get out here its worth the short drive.

Tualatin Hills Nature Park September 2020

Old Wagon Trail is partially raised and well maintained.

Today was a typical lazy Sunday. I only had two errands on my list which took me out west towards Beaverton. Since I was going that far I stopped by the Tualatin Hills Nature Park to get a quick walk around the forest. Never been to this park before and its honestly not that far from my house, about 30 minutes if you take the scenic route.

This is a 222-acher park right in the middle of suburban Portland. As you walk around the trails you are never that far from civilization. The park is right next to the Merlo Rd station on the Max blue line. Makes it super convenient to get to from public transit. When things settle down this is a park I will certainly visit via Max. A good afternoon out.

Its a small park but easy access makes it a great place to visit. You can certainty walk the entire park in an afternoon if you wanted to. Most of the trails are well maintained and by that I mean they are either paved or wooden planks. Saw lots of older people and family’s with young children out enjoying a beautiful day.

Spent a good couple of hours here writing and drawing. There are some benches along the trail which are nice. No open fields to have a picnic in but there at other parks for that. A nice afternoon at the park that you can get to from Max. When I’m out on that side of town it’s a good place to visit.