Tag Archives: state park

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

Summit of Neahkahnie Mt. October 2019

Spending a week back in Virginia for work I was excited to get home. There is just something about being back in Virginia that is soul sucking. Midway through the trip I got an email from Jenny. She wanted to go for a hike along the coast and wanted me to come along. I was already starting to miss home so I jumped at the chance to go for a hike with her when I got back. She found a few spots and a tourist information site for Cannon Beach so we were ready as we could be for the adventure in front of us.

We got a super early start on Sunday, meeting at my house at 7am. The night before I saw the New Mastersounds at the Wonder Ballroom so I was pretty tired. The drive out to the beach was only 1.5 hours and it was actually a pretty good one. The fog was super dense around town and as we headed up into the mountains. Half the trip we couldn’t see 100 yards in front of us which was cool.

Jenny picked the trail heading to the summit of Neahkahnie Mt in Oswald West State Park. I think round trip it was about 6 miles. I was more concerned about the elevation change then the distance. Looking at the trail map the lower section of the trail was all switch backs. They only use those when the grade is steep. Ugh. In the end it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought. I had no problem keeping up with Jenny that morning as we hiked up the mountain.

Along the coast the fog was already gone but that didn’t mean the trail wasn’t beautiful. Going up we didn’t run into anyone. On occasion we would stop to look at nature and I always noticed how quiet it was. Lower elevations you could hear the cars from the highway but this quickly faded away till we eventually only heard the rustling of the trees.

The view from the summit once we made it was amazing. From the top we had a perfect look down the coast line as far as the eye could see. We could also see a little into the ocean from the vantage point and of course a good view of Neahkahnie. We were shocked at the number of people at the summit but after spending some time I understand why. We just hung out eating the lunch we brought, enjoying the view.

I like the mural and you get a good view of the kitchen too. Wood everywhere and a huge ceiling.

The trip down was pretty easy compared to going up. We ran into way more people hiking up as we came down. Getting that early start was really paying off. The parking lot was full with people were having trouble finding spots by the time we got back to the car. We cleaned up a little and decided to head to Cannon Beach for lunch. We decided on Pelican Brewing for a well deserved beer and food.

I have been to their brewery in Pacific City and I was impressed. The food was creative and both the food and beer were good. This being the flag ship brewpub it was also well appointed. No parking to speak of but the architecture more than made up for it. Lots of exposed wood beams, open and airy is how I would describe the feeling. Huge vaulted ceiling, concrete floors and wood tables all over the place. Bar area is pretty big with lots of bar stool seating. You have a decent view of some large brewing equipment. You also get a nice view of the kitchen and all the activity that is going on there.

After some good food and a well deserved beer we headed down to the water for a walk. It was only early October but the weather was already pretty cold. It was mostly the wind that made it so cold. We didn’t even bother getting our feet wet as it will be way to cold. Lots of other people out that afternoon enjoying the beach which was nice.

A great time along the cost when I got back into town. Trips like this remind me all the time why I enjoy living out here in Portland so much. In less then two hours I an get to the beach and have a change of pace. The same distance the other direction I can be at 10,000′ in the mountains. The view from the summit was amazing, the beer was cold and the walk along the beach magical.

Silver Falls State Park July 2019

The weather was finally starting to turn hot during the late afternoon hours. Its weird but for me when the weather gets like this I just want to get out and do something. The early morning hours are still very cool and if you go up into the mountains, its cooler yet. I can beat the heat naturally for a while and get out side to enjoy nature at the same time. This time around I just didn’t have enough time to research a place so I went back to Silver Falls State Park which I have been to before.

This park checked all the boxes that I wanted in a hike that weekend. Its a good hour and a half drive from the city. It is also pretty deep into the boondocks so a nice quite drive down two lane roads for the most part. Not so many mountains along the drive but you do get some good driving through the forest. It was also a place I was familiar for so plenty of parking and hikes of various lengths. I could do 10 miles and see all the falls with all the crowds of people or go on a shorter hikes and avoid the crowds.

The drive down was pretty easy, its just far. Getting into the park turned into a cluster. It was a beautiful day so the entrance was smashed with people. A ranger was asking everyone what they where doing and directing them to a specific lot depending on what activity you where doing. The F lot was for hiking and a little deeper into the park.

Upper North Falls

From here I headed north to the Upper North Falls which I am pretty certain I skipped last time. When you do the loop trail you skip this place since it is an out and back. I mostly didn’t want to fight all the crowds that would be along the trail so decided on this hike which worked out. It was still a little busy till I got the North Falls and from there it died almost completely.

Once I finally got to the water falls there were only a few people hanging out. I spent probably 45 minutes at the falls and the entire time no more then 10 people where around. Most wondering over the rocks, some along the waters edge, some didn’t move much past the end of the trail.

The waterfall itself is pretty impressive. Not as good as some of the others in the park but it was serene. I sat on some rocks not far from the base of the pool. The canyon trees where tall enough to provide shade so I could enjoy the sight and sound of the waterfall without roasting alive. It also allowed me to rest and cool down. I took the time to do some writing to family. I love being in beautiful spots like this and writing letters.

The Upper North Falls hit the spot that weekend. I got a good drive in, a decent length hike an lots of natural beauty. You throw in some peace and quite and it was a perfect afternoon. Even when its warm outside, in the shade its generally comfortable. Its great weather for getting out into the mountains and hiking.

Deschutes River State Recreation Area March 2019

Spring is finally here and the weather is only slightly getting better but this weekend it was pretty good and I was going stir crazy. When you get a good weekend weather in March you take advantage of it while you can.

I wanted to get outside and do a hike some place I had never been before. I grabbed my trust hiking guild and found the Deschutes River State Recreation Area. The park follows the Deshutes Rivers for several miles and includes the area where it dumps into the Columbia River. It has your typical outdoor activities like fishing and camping.

I was interested in the hiking and found a decent length trail to Ferry Springs. What my book didn’t show me, nor the map at the park, was the elevation change. First hike of the season and I was not prepared for the hike up the hill. Near the mouth of the Columbia there are several trails that parallel each other. Two are hiking trails and another is an access road so you have options on how difficult a hike you want.

A fire burned through the area and is the dominate feature at the start of the high. It doesn’t matter what trail you take all you see is burnt vegetation and dry dirt. Life is slowly starting to come back with some brushes surviving and trying to grow back. Grass is starting to go in patch and should takeover rather quickly. Another good size was seeing animal tracks in the dirt.

Deschutes River

When it comes to getting to Ferry Springs it is at the top of one of the hills. The climb up was more then I was expecting but worth it once you get to the top. Because of land ownership it appears the start of the actual spring is not in the park but just outside it. The better view is just sitting on the hillside looking out towards the value. All across the valley spring was starting to bloom. Just some low grass in places but no flowers yet. I am sure as the season progresses the valley will become abundant with life.

A nice little park that has a really long trail along the lower section of the Deschutes River. They also offer camping which would be nice. I can imagine that sunrise and sunset in the valley along the river is pretty nice.

Sunday Trip to Remember

Sunday was Veterans Day and the weather turned out to be rather nice. For me the afternoon started with a walk north towards the Lloyd Center and quickly changed to a trip out to Washington Park to visit the Vietnam Veterans of Oregon Memorial. It was just a beautiful day and I wanted to be out.

Its a nice bowl with a spiral that walks around. Really well designed.

I have a weird relationship with Veterans Day. I am not a vet, never served in the military. My dad was in Vietnam but he never talked about it and I never asked. Through a weird series of events many years ago my dad and I had off and our respective wives were working. The two of us having nothing better to do we went to DC. First stop was the Vietnam Memorial and then we went to the American History Museum.

It was such a great day just hanging out with my dad. He passed away many years ago but I have never forgotten that trip to the city. I wanted to visit the memorial to remember my father. I miss him every day.

What should have been a straight shot train ride got derailed by an accident along the tracks. I just walked past the closed stop and onto the next one. Remember its a beautiful day and I love to walk. Eventually I made it to the park. The memorial is right there when you get off the train and if my understanding is correct this is also the bottom of Forrest Park.

The MIA from Vietnam.

Anyone can put a stone statue some place and call it a memorial. This one was much more than that. It was started by locals wanting to honor those that didn’t make it back from Vietnam. With years of fundraising the organization had the money they needed to start construction.

You walk down this path that leads to a fountain and small plague. Next the path spirals up the hillside. Along the path there are giant marble walls with all the names of the dead and the year they died. When you get to the end you see a list of MIA. Thankfully you can see that some of those names have been taken off. They didn’t make it back alive but they made it home.

I got to the top of the path and just had to take a seat for a while. All these emotions running through me. The lives lost to war, needless war. The lives of all those soldiers still fighting, doing what they think is best to protect America and our allies. And my dad. Greatest man I ever knew. I wouldn’t be who I am today without him and for that I am eternally grateful. I found some peace that afternoon.

Memorials are there for a reason and I was glad I got to the Vietnam Memorial. The weather was good, it was a holiday, and it was a Sunday. Just being there, sitting, thinking, and looking at everything around me. It was a great day. Let us never forget.


Beacon Rock July 2018

Beacon Rock

The weather had finally started to change and I wanted to get out for a hike before things got to hot. I mentioned this to Tracy and we ended up doing a hike with Ellie to Beacon Rock. I was thinking Silver Falls State Park to the south but because of logistics we decided that was not the best park. I was able to hike this park on my way down to see SCI so it all worked out.

The park is only 40 minutes or so from Vancouver and it is right on the highway. The parking lot and trail head are steps apart. This is a well maintained path that while steep at times, almost everyone can complete this hike. Plenty of railings to hold onto. It is interesting seeing how they engineered the trail and all the barriers. There are even a couple of footpath bridges which are really cool. Lots of bent railing speak to the ever changing mountain.

Nice hike up the side of the mount with a ton of switchbacks. Its the only reasonable way you can get up there otherwise it is to steep. Once at the top you get some great views of the valley below. The time of day we went the sun was bouncing off the water and it was bright as crap. Still an impressive hike to a really close park. Once we climbed down the mount we continued to the day use park and the boat launch along the water.

You actually walk downstairs to the brewery.

During the hike we worked up an appetite and headed to Walking Man Brewing in the near by town of Stevenson. I had been here once before many years ago when visiting. It was just like I remember. Some really good beer and creative food which was all very good. The weather was perfect so we sat outside and had lunch on the patio.

A great hike that is rather close to the house. There is another hike close by that goes up another mountain and offers even better views of the valley. I will have to try this trail next time.