Location: Sauvie Island, Oregon. Originally known as Wappatoo Island. The ancestral home to the Multnomah Indians of the Chinook Tribe.
Level: moderate Round trip/Gain: 7 miles/0ish elevation gain Type: out-and-back Permit: Fish & Wildlife permit. You can get a day pass or year round one at the Cracker Barrel store.
I love Sauvie Island. It is such a gem and so close to home. The perfect easy nature trip. I did this trail years ago (January 22, 2014, as indicated in a photo below) and it’s ridiculous that it’s taken me so long to return. This was SUCH A GOOD DAY! I think I’ve turned into someone who loves group hiking! Sort of. Sometimes. I guess when I’m leading the group? This group was fantastic. Super mindful of everyone, stayed together. It was supposed to rain, but ended up being sunny until the last mile or so, as if to remind us of our good fortune to that point.
One maaaaajorly notable thing: TRAFFIC. I left Portland at 8am, and the traffic was stop-and-go there and back for many miles. I think I spent about 4.5 hours in the car round trip. If you’re in or around Portland, it’s prob a good idea to leave super early in the morning and be on your way back by 1pm.
Not gonna lie, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do this one. I know those stats aren’t crazy, but the elevation gains on this trail are… creative. Some of the steepest pitches I’ve ever been on, but they’re short. My feet have been doing a lot better so I decided to give it a shot and much to my surprise, there wasn’t a single moment where I felt like I wasn’t going to make it to the top. Not that it was easy, but I’m doing so much better than I thought I was. I had a great time!
Level: easy to falls / Beginner Level: challenging Round trip/Gain: 3.4 miles/650 ft Type: round trip
Level: moderate to top of falls Round trip/Gain: 6.3 miles/1150 ft Type: loop
My mind is a little blown by this trail. I’ve been out there three times in three different seasons, and I keep finding out new things about it. Apparently, after the top of the big falls, there are two more waterfalls! And caves! I can’t vouch for any of it as I’ve only done the trail to the falls and then the loop to the top of the falls. Anyway, some things to research if you decide to get out there.
My little sister was in town and I wanted to really impress her, which isn’t hard to do here. I arranged for us to see my two favorite waterfalls, starting with Panther Creek Falls.
Level: easy to Zig Zag Canyon / Beginner Level: doable Round trip/Gain: 4.4 miles/500 ft Type: round trip Permit: n/a
True story: this was my first time at the Timberline Lodge in my fourteen years of living in Portland. I’d driven up there a few times for the view, but never actually entered the lodge or hiked on the trails. I’m really not trying to be a kill joy, it was cool, but I think the best part was all of the stinky PCT hikers, stuffed from the brunch buffet, stretched out in every possible direction looking so happy.
There were tons of little trails spurring off from the lodge, so I couldn’t really tell which way to the PCT, but then I realized they all essentially braided together after a hundred yards or so.
That first view of Mount St. Helens when driving up 804-E kills me. I love this mountain so much! And so does everyone else, because I thought I was pulling one over showing up early morning midweek on a hot day, but no, the parking lot at Johnston Ridge Observatory was swarmed. I dreaded walking up to the Observatory to get my armband (you have to wear your proof of entry and mine was free because I have a NW Forest Pass!), but as soon as I got on trail, the crowds thinned within the first few tenths of a mile. Still, trails like this are always the ones where you see people with no water, bad footwear, talking on their phones, etc. It can be stressful!
Every single moment of this trail, start to finish, yields a spectacular view. You can go as short or as far as you want and be totally bowled over. Also, there is NO shade on this trail aside from a tiny patch of baby alders at one point.
Location: Quinault, Olympic National Park, Washington
Level: easy / Beginner Level: challenging Round trip/Gain: 5 miles/500ft Type: round trip Permit: Olympic National Park entrance fee or America the Beautiful pass
I guess all trails in ONP are big backpacking trails and I’m super bummed that another summer has gone by where I couldn’t get my shit together in time to take my first backpacking trip. People make it look so easy, but I literally could not afford to A: get gear and B: take off enough time. I only went car camping once! It is really hard to not feel woe-is-me, but what the fuck am I doing wrong?!?!?! (Do not answer this. You don’t know about my life and yes, I am being super defensive.)
A month prior, I’d stayed in Quinault for a modeling job for Columbia Sportswear (lolz, I’m serious and it wasn’t nearly as glamorous as it sounds). The shoot happened at nearby Graves Creek campground, which is a beautiful overgrown, mossy forest next to milky turquoise Graves Creek and the Enchanted Valley trailhead. It put a bug in my ear and I was dying to go back.
Level: Moderate Round trip/Gain: 9.2 miles/100ft Type: Loop Permit: Olympic National Park entrance fee or America the Beautiful pass
This trail is so cool! It’s a perfect triangle 3x3x3 (& some change) miles. 6 miles of boardwalk trail through forest and meadows and a sandy, rocky ocean-side stretch. It’s mostly flat, but the sand section, with log scrambles, killed my feet. I saw a lot of people suffering through it.
Another popular backpacking trail, ideal for a new backpacker. I definitely wanted to post-up after the sand part. There are petroglyphs, too! Of vulvas!