If you’re interested in visiting one of Oregon’s best gorge hikes but unfortunately the most popular hike I would recommend the Eagle Creek trail. However, it has now become the most overcrowded and over used hike in the entire gorge. Tourists and recent transplants have overtaken the entire stretch of the gorge but Eagle Creek has really seen the most traffic. It’s really not surprising since there isn’t anywhere else in the lower 48 states like it but you can no longer hike the trail in solitude. If you find yourself driving along I-84, whiling looking for a good trail, you might want to take in consideration the parking problems that come with the popularity of your favorite hiking spot. The parking lots can be full very early in the morning and if you’re driving through during the afternoon it becomes more like a parking lot at a Walmart in Oklahoma. If you’re planning a trip, I would go very early in the morning and go during off season. There are a lot more hidden and less used trails in Oregon that I would rather go to during peak season. However, that said, The Eagle Creek trail offers some of the best waterfalls in the gorge. Punchbowl Falls is the most popular but Metlako Falls holds it’s own. If you want to get a really good view or take photos, you actually have to climb over the railing and brace yourself against a tree. However, you will want to be really careful since you will be standing just centimeters from a 100 foot cliff and you will certainly die if you fall. You can still get a good view of the falls from a safe distance but you get a much better view while in harms way. I took this photo of Metlako Falls while hanging on the cliff and it’s always worth the extra effort. You will want to use a tripod so you will want to be extra careful and you also want to ensure that you are braced against the tree since you can find yourself forgetting that you are merely centimeters from sure death. The best time to take photos of the gorge is during late Spring and early Summer. This is when the vegetation is lit up like a roman candle. You haven’t seen green until you have visited during this peak season. Seriously, the Oregon gorge green will make any other green look like brown. I took this shot while using my Canon Rebel T1I and attached my Sigma 17-70-mm lens. I also used my bubble level and remote switch. I also use a Manfrotto tripod but it’s not the lightest tripod. However, when you’re concerned about movement, it’s good to use a heavier tripod to ensure that you don’t have the slightest of movement. This is especially true since I set the shutter speed at 10 seconds and there was a breeze flowing up from below.
A great day hike along the Mt. Hood national forest is near Ramona Falls. It’s an easy hike with rewarding views of Mt. Hood and a cool resting area right in front of the falls. You will also find yourself hiking near some of the most interesting rock formations that helped create Mt. Hood. The trail system offers you the opportunity to continue towards the Timberline trail or towards Lolo Pass. Either way, there are endless places that you can explore some of the best nature spots near Mt. Hood. This particular photo was taken along Ramona Creek and you will have several opportunities to capture some very interesting and intimate moods of the forested area. Since you will want to bring your tripod, in order to get waterfall photos, you may want to limit your hiking time at the higher elevations since the trail becomes very steep and grueling if you plan on hiking towards the mountain. The trails can also get a little tricky since the Sandy river is born from this area and there are several creeks that start from the glaciers. If it’s raining, I would recommend that you stay away from the Sandy River as well as look out for washed out bridges that may cause you to become stranded. Several people have been injured or killed over the past decade and with the area being so secluded and steep, you will want to be aware of any changes in the weather. The hike to Ramona Falls is about 7 miles round trip but the hike to Bald Mountain is a grueling 13 mile loop. It’s also 2,000 feet of elevation gain and if you go I would bring plenty of food and water. Because the trails near Ramona Falls offers some of the best hiking for nature lovers as well as plenty of hiking opportunities I would recommend it as a great summer hike. There is plenty of shade so I would also recommend it as a place to get away from the hot weather in the valley.
Spring has officially arrived in the Pacific Northwest and if you live near Portland, Oregon, you know that Forest Park offers some of the best places to take in the lush green vegetation that surrounds the Northwest. There are still some dormant plants along the edges of the trails as well as the underbrush but you can still expect to see some amazing wild trillium’s blanketing the forest. The past few weeks have brought a lot of rain to the trails and forest canopy but we are looking at a pretty sunny and warm next few days. You can expect to be hiking on a very soft trail system as well as still enjoy the coolness surrounding the park. Summer can be really bad, with the trails as hard as a rock, stagnant air and lifeless vegetation. However, Spring offers the exact opposite, with the best hiking opportunities that the Pacific Northwest could ever create. The weekend’s can get pretty busy, so I would recommend that you go on a weekday. Early morning or later in the day can be the best time to go if you can’t get the time off, during the afternoon. If you plan on taking some photos, I would recommend that you attach your wide angle lens and plan on getting some great shots of the towering and lush trees overhead, like the photo that I just posted, You can also get some great shots of the trails, winding through the green canopy. You will also have the opportunity to get some shots of the creek since the previous rains have swollen the brooks and small creeks that wind throughout the park. However, you may want to bring a tripod in order to get the best shots. You will also have some great opportunities to see some of the woodpeckers that call Forest Park home.
The weather along the Oregon coast this winter has been epic and the sunsets have been even more spectacular than the sunny and warm days. I guess you can call it a trade off since the mountains don’t have any snow and the ski season was finished before it even got started. It may seem like a bitter sweet trade off but at least we have something to enjoy as we put our winter gear away until next year. This shot was taken at Hug Point beach and it’s located just a few mile south of Cannon Beach. The best time to got is late in the afternoon, when the sun is low and its rays reflect and absorb into the steep and rugged sandstone. You will also want to pick a time to visit when the tide is low. You won’t be able to walk half of the park if the tide is in. As you can see the tide has receded, which makes for some great beach combing and longer strolls along the beach. You will also be able to see more of the rocks that get A chance to catch some air before they are submerged by the next high tide. One either side of the beach you can walk inside several small tunnels that have been carved out by the relentless waves. You can also walk up to a really cool waterfall that drops onto the beach. The photo opportunities are endless but if you go during high tide or when the sun is too high, you will be disappointed. Time of day is everything in photography and Hug Point beach is no exception! The parking lot can get pretty full and it usually fills up during the late morning so that is another reason why you will want to visit later in the day. I’ve never stayed for any sunset shots but it’s one of the best places to take photos when the sun is low and the tide is low.
The 2014-2015 winter may be a total waste in the Pacific Northwest as well as the Western Rockies but at least we can still hope for a descent spring in the Pacific Northwest. I am totally convinced that this winter will go down as the worst snow pack ever recorded from every Western State, including Alaska and even Western Canada. Looking at the current snow totals, from around the western part of North America, I can confidently predict that we will break all recorded totals in history. This is bad news for ski resorts, the economy, water tables, fire season and countless others. However, since the Pacific Northwest is still getting plenty of rain I can only hope that we will still enjoy a good spring. We may not have the thunderous waterfalls rolling down from the snow covered mountains but we may be blessed with lots of rain totals where snow would otherwise dominant the landscape. We may even be able to venture out along the western slopes of the Cascade mountains earlier than normal and bask in the glory of extreme beauty of the colorful vegetation and warmer temperatures. Unfortunately it’s to the dismay of the bankrupt ski resorts and broken economies that rely on the heavy snow totals. I know that we have recouped a lot of snow totals in late February and March but it seems that this pineapple express is pretty ruthless this time and it isn’t looking good for a comeback. I’m not going to put away my snow shoes and remove my snow tires just yet but I am already getting ready for some sweet waterfall shots earlier than expected.
The weather in the Pacific Northwest has finally changed. This means that the weather is getting colder, wetter, stormier and very unpredictable. We can finally start to anticipate the changing colors of the leaves and the stormy clouds to appear. This will ultimately bring a lot of water to the waterfalls and snow to the higher elevations. Now is the perfect time to break out your camera and head to the Columbia River Gorge if you would like to take advantage of all the above. The waterfalls are amazing just as the rain arrives and the struggling foliage will come alive with the leaves falling from their high perch. You can also expect to witness some of the most amazing cloud formations as they move through the gorge like a freight train. I would recommend that you bring all of your rain gear as well as your best lens as well as your tripod, bubble level and remote switch. You may also want to choose the best trail since you will find yourself spending hours taking photos along the waterfalls. Sometimes I will just make a long road trip by starting out in Portland and driving to Hood River and stopping along the way. On my return trip, I will either back track or drive across the bridge of the gods, in Washington State and take some photos from the north side of the river. Either way, you can expect to get some pretty epic photos if you go on a day that is perfect for panoramic shots.
Cool shot at Silver Falls State Park, Oregon! Silver Falls State Park is a great place to get some really epic fall shots and it’s just an added bonus that there are 13 waterfalls that you can easily add into your photos. Since the area was carved out from a basalt outcropping, there are hundreds of carved out chasm’s that have several smaller waterfalls and whirl pools that collect leaves as they cling to the edges or get trapped in the swirling pools of water. The best time to visit, during the time the leaves are changing, are during the mid to end of October and towards the middle of November. However, you will want to keep an eye out for any changes of the weather since October can be very dry and unseasonable warm. This will cause the season to start later in the month and once the rains do arrive, your window of opportunity can be very small. The best thing to do is just pay attention to the weather and check the Silver Falls page in order to get any updates on the fall colors. The hikes around the park are amazing but you will want to be sure to bring your tripod, nd filters, remote switch and bubble level. I would also recommend that you bring plenty of food and water since you will find yourself hiking and snapping photos all day and before you know it you will be tired, hungry and very thirsty. If the weather is calling for rain, I would recommend that you bring rain gear since the rain can come without warning. I usually just pack a light rain jacket and extra socks in case I end up getting too close to the water or my shoes get too wet or muddy.
When the temperatures are hot in the valley, you are better off heading towards the higher elevations in the Cascade mountains. However, you have to be sure to lather a lot of sun screen and carry lots of water when heading out into the wilderness. You can pretty much lose 10-15 degrees in the higher elevations but you will find yourself immersed in the sun and breathing pretty hard while you climb towards the sky. You are guaranteed to find nothing but sunshine in the Cascade mountains during the summer months, so I always look for a hike that will be a challenge, offer the best views and allow me to beat the heat. The Gnarl Ridge hike is no exception since you will climb 2400 feet of elevation gain and you will be standing just below Mt. Hood with lots of cool winds blowing through your hair. You will also be able to hike along an ancient forest and have the opportunity to still get a little bit of sun on your pale body. The absolute best thing about the hike is that you cross several creeks, large and small, as well as several opportunities to hike across several snowy patches on the north side of the trail. The water temperatures are freezing and it provides a great opportunity to cool yourself down by dipping your feet in the frigid water as well as splashing the rest of your body. The temps are literally just above freezing along Newton Creek since it’s glacial melt and the numerous creeks along the trail are cold enough to drop your core body temperature pretty fast. The only downside about making this difficult hike is that you will need to bring a lot of water and snacks and that can really add weight to your day pack. However, you’re load will gradually start to lose weight as you consume your water and food. The round trip hike to Gnarl Ridge and back is 10.2 miles but if you have enough energy, you can continue up the trail and hike to some of the alpine glaciers that are just above Gnarl Ridge. The trail will take you to Cloud Cap and several mountain climbers take this very trail when they’re wanting to climb the summit from the north. This photo was taken while standing at the Gnarl Ridge viewpoint and it’s looking southeast. Mt. Jefferson is just to the right but out of the picture and the horizon is a little hazy due to the sun being so bright and just above me when I took the shot. Lamberson Butte is on the left and it looks pretty steep so I have never climbed it. The rock formations are epic and you will find yourself taking hundreds of photos while trying to depict the rocks as objects from an alien planet. There are dozens of small alpine flowers dotting the landscape and you will want to tread lightly so you don’t kill or damage the fragile flowers. You can also hike to a huge waterfall that is fed by the glaciers and eventually makes the 1,000 foot drop towards Newton Creek. Just before you get to Gnarl Ridge you will get a great view of Mt. Adams in the north but unfortunately a fire had destroyed parts of the forest that is just in front of the view. However, if you wait just before you get to the level part of the trail, you can get a great shot of the mountain without the dead trees in the foreground. This is also the part of the trail that you will most likely find snow covering the trail and unfortunately it’s a very steep part of the hike and it’s at about a 65 degree angle. If you’re afraid of heights or just afraid of falling and sliding a few hundred feet, you may want to wait until late summer when the snow has completely melted. Since this part of the trail is on the north side of Lamverson Butte, the snow hangs around a bit longer and the trail cuts along the butte, which makes it more treacherous if the snow is still covering the trail. However, if you bring some snow-shoe poles you won’t have any problems navigating through the snow.
Beautiful photo of Oneonta Falls and bridge in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon. This particular trail will take you to four spectacular waterfalls and provide you some of the most awesome views of the Columbia River as well as views of the thick forest and lava cut gorge. One of the best hiking destinations is above Triple Falls and if you continue past the falls, you can expect to hike alongside the creek that feeds the waterfalls. There are thousands of photo opportunities and if you’re up to a really long and strenuous hike, you can continue for another 7.7 mile to reach Multnomah Falls. On this particular hike, to Triple Falls, I was sadly turned away due to the fact that there was a mud slide that took out a portion of the trail just a few hundred feet from the waterfall. The forest service was working on the trail but it was a mud soaked mess and I wasn’t interested in slogging through three feet of mud. The trail was still open and passable but it was pretty muddy and you can expect to endure a very muddy mess for at least another month before it dries out. I decided to turn back and head towards Oneonta Falls to see if I could get some descent shots. The switchback that continues past the bridge was also damaged, so you can expect to get pretty muddy as well. However, if you park on the other side of Horsetail Falls parking lot, you can come in from the west and avoid the muddy part of the trail. Because the snow in the mountains are melting and with all of the rain that we have received lately, you can expect the waterfalls to be at their peak. The water is thundering through the gorge and you will find yourself immersed in fresh water chaos. The vegetation is at it’s peak and the rivers, streams and creeks are swollen to their brim. Now is the absolute best time to visit the gorge, if you want to see the gorge at its best as well as having the best opportunities to get some great shots. To get this shot, I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and attached my CIR-PL and warming filter. I set the camera mode to shutter priority and set it at 2.5 seconds in order to get the flowing motion of the waterfall. The water was moving so fast that I never set the shutter priority past four seconds all day. The waterfalls were literally moving at light speed and anything over four seconds washed out the water. I set the ISO at 100, white balance at -1.3 and the aperture was at F-4. The skies were completely overcast and it was sprinkling all day. However, since the water was moving so fast, it caused the pictures to become too bright, so I had to reduce the white balance to offset the highlights. If you have a descent telephoto lens you can get some great opportunities to get some shots of the raptors flying around the gorge. While hiking near the main trail I saw two juvenile bald eagles jump from their perch and start hovering just above where I was standing. I also saw several bald eagles and osprey flying near the Columbia River gorge. The gorge is a raptor gold mine due to all of the fish in the river. If you have the patience, you can expect to get some great photos of them.
One of the most majestic and massive waterfalls that I’ve seen in a long time. It isn’t nearly as tall as Multnomah Falls but this 3-tiered cascade starts with a hidden 50-foot falls, spreads across a 70-foot fan and finally drops 80 feet into a huge rock punchbowl. However, the last part of the waterfall isn’t within view due to the trees and the sheer drop next to the falls. The waterfall is so wide towards the top that you could park a semi from end to end and still not block the falls. The trail starts at about 15 miles north of Carson, WA at a primitive and quiet parking area. The last few miles are on a gravel/dirt road with some potholes. The best part of this hike isn’t just to the waterfall. If you backtrack about 1/2 mile there is another trail that takes you to the top of the falls. This puts you at 2370′ and right on top of the falls. There are several viewing areas at this elevation and the panoramic views are incredible. The forest is also especially beautiful and quiet. There is also another great little creek that flows down just before the main falls that a bridge crosses. I’m pretty sure that it’s a natural spring since the upper trail never crosses this same creek and it doesn’t seem like it forks from Falls Creek. This photo was taken at about 12.22 in the afternoon. I returned to the falls for a second time in order to avoid most of the glare from earlier in the morning. To get this shot I used my 17-77mm lens. I set the focal length at 55mm. I had my warming filter and CIR-PL attached to the lens. I set the ISO at 100 and the F-stop was at 22. I set the Exposure Program to Shutter Priority and set it at 1.2 seconds. I used my tripod in order to avoid camera shake. There is a good chance that you may run in to a black bear, elk or deer since the forest gets pretty thick once you hike above the falls. You may even spot an eagle, osprey, hawk or turkey vulture soaring high above the forest. Since the hike itself is pretty easy and short, you may want to locate some other hiking trails in the area if you want to spend the whole day hiking.