oregon

Hiking Report: Angel’s Rest, Portland, OR

About a month after moving, I was in desperate need of hitting the reset button. I had been putting an intensive amount of effort into the job search and hadn’t yet realized how important it was to maintain a sense of play and adventure during the process.

In other words, I was driving myself crazy.

So, I did what I always do when I’m feeling that way. I set out to tackle a physical hill, in hopes that it would help me tackle my mental ones.

portland, oregon, pacfic northwest, hike, hiking

When you take on Angel’s Rest trail, you’re committing to 2.3 miles of constant ascension. Some of it is a gentle ascent, some of it is a steep ascent, but it’s always going up. There are no signs telling you how much further to the top, no way to measure how much longer unless you’ve cheated with an app on your phone.

Every thought, every worry falls away. A singular focus takes over, a steady grind of putting one foot in front of the other, and faith that, eventually, you’ll make it to the top.

And when you do make it, the uphill battle fades away.

hike, trail, pacific northwest hiking, columbia river gorge, portland, oregon

I throw the word awesome around quite a bit, using it to show enthusiasm, agreement, a positive attitude. When it’s used so casually, it can be easy to forget what awesome truly means – to be filled with a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.

I settled down on a sun-warmed rock, soaking in the view. A view that started forming 40-20 million years ago.  A view shaped by volcanic eruptions, mudflows, and floods. A view to inspire a new perspective.

columbia river gorge, hike, hiking, pacific northwest, portland, oregon

Location: Angel’s Rest Trailhead, about 30 minutes outside of Portland along I-84E and US-30E

Distance: 4.6 out and back to the summit

Elevation: ~1400 ft gain, ~1580 feet at the summit

Time: 2.5-4 hours, depending on how long you hang out at the top

Difficulty: Moderate

Parking: Free. Small parking lot at the trailhead, some roadside parking as well.

Tips:

  • A great option if you’re on a weekend visit to the Portland area, and a nice way to break up all the eating and beer sampling.
  • Recommend getting an early start, this is a pretty popular trail. Family-friendly.
  • No restrooms at the trail head, although there are some a bit further up the road, as well as additional parking.
  • You’ll hit a shale crossing near the top. The views here are awesome too, but you haven’t hit the summit yet, keep going.
  • If you’re feeling up to it, this would be a great hike to bring a small picnic/cheese plate snack on.
  • Nearby trails include Bridal Veil Falls and Latourell Falls.

Day Trip + Hiking Report: Tillamook, OR

We set out Memorial Day Weekend on a noble pursuit of all things delicious – ice cream, cheese and sour beer.

Our destination: Tillamook, OR, near the Oregon coast.

Located 73 miles from Portland, OR, Tillamook has a population around five thousand. Settled by bachelors in 1851, Tillamook continued to grow until it was officially incorporated as a city in 1891. Timber and fishing industries have both played a role in Tillamook’s economy, but it’s perhaps most well known for its role in the dairy industry and as the home of the Tillamook Cheese Factory.

When your noble pursuit involves all things ingested, it’s always good to do a little work to earn the goods. Our first stop of the day was Cape Lookout State Park. A popular spot for tent and RV camping (and they have yurts!), we were there for the hiking.

The Cape Trail is a 5-mile out-and-back hike along the cliff’s edge to Cape Lookout. It meanders through a densely forested area, and when the trees part ways a bit, you get to sneak beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean.

View from The Cape Trail

The trail is popular, and is a great hiking option for the whole family, especially when camping in the area.  Gray whales migrate through this part of the ocean in late Spring and Winter, and Cape Lookout has a convenient bench for prime-time viewing. Be prepared for slick tree roots and mud on the trail regardless of the season, especially if there’s been a recent day or two of rain.

All that hiking left us a bit parched, and it was on to our first indulgence: de Garde Brewing.

Driving to de Garde brewing, I have to admit, I was a bit worried I hadn’t done enough research. The current tasting room is located pretty far outside of Tillamook, and the scenery, though beautiful, was fairly remote.

Air Museum, Tillamook, OR

When we turned a corner and saw a crowd of hipsters sitting outside of what looked like an industrial strip of warehouses, I breathed a sigh of relief. We had to be in the right place.

I love me a sour beer, and de Garde didn’t disappoint. I enjoyed a glass of the tasty Citra Pale, and we also lucked out and got the last of the Freigeist Kopeniciade – freaking delicious.

de Garde Brewing, Tillamook, OR

Next stop was the Tillamook Cheese Factory Visitor’s Center, which, to be honest, was completely overwhelming – so many people! This place receives over a million visitors a year, and is a must stop for families. My number one priority was a Mountain Huckleberry waffle cone, which I devoured while we walked around the self-guided tour. Because it was a Sunday, the factory floor was closed for business, but there was still plenty of information to digest. My fave fact – it takes 10 gallons of milk to make one pound of cheese!

Tillamook Cheese Factory, Tillamook, OR

And if sour beer and ice cream doesn’t sound like enough of a stomach-ache waiting to happen, our last stop for the day was Old Oregon Smokehouse. Right across the street from the Tillamook Cheese Factory Visitor’s Center, they totally capitalize on all the through traffic in the area, but deliver in a big way with their food. We sampled the clam chowder, the crab melt, and a crab cake . . . ah-mazing! We managed to finish the clam chowder, but we cried mercy at finishing the rest and boxed it up for the ride home.

Tips:

  • Need breakfast on the way? Check out Our Cafe in Banks, OR.
  • The Cape Trail is about a 2 hour easy hike, 5 miles total. No parking fees if you park at the trailhead further down the road (not the main entrance). Outhouses at the trailhead.
  • Consider visiting Tillamook Cheese Factory Visitor’s Center in the morning to beat the crowds.
  • Make it a weekend trip and camp at Cape Lookout State Park.
  • Other popular destinations that we didn’t get to check out – Tillamook Air Museum, Tillamook County Pioneer Museum, Latimer Quilt & Textile Center

Day Trip: Astoria, OR

Strolling along the Columbia River, the smell of salt and barking of sea lions mingled with the warm sunshine had me utterly charmed. It felt enough like home to soothe the soul.

An hour and a half outside of Vancouver, WA, Astoria is a small town parked alongside the mouth of the Columbia River. The first permanent US settlement on the Pacific Coast, Astoria quickly became a strategic port of entry. Its economy has at various times depended on the fur trade, lumber industry, canneries, fishing, and, now, tourism.

Today, Astoria feels a bit like two worlds bumping into each other. Fishermen on the docks and barges on the river bring to mind early mornings, impermanence, a living earned with your hands and possibly your life.  Move a few blocks up from the river, and suddenly you’re passing quaint store fronts, eclectic vintage shops, and trendy bars run by hipsters. The dichotomy is endearing and nostalgic of so many coastal towns.

I started my afternoon at the Astoria Column. Climb the 164-steps to the top and be rewarded with a positively breathtaking lay of the land. If heights aren’t your thing, the column itself is a beautiful mural depicting the early history of the area.

Astoria Column View

By the time I made it to Fort George Brewery, it was far past lunch-time, but the day was warm and the place was hopping. Any place that makes its bacon in-house is worth the wait, and I washed a tasty BLT down with an equally tasty dark lager. Word on the street is that the pastries next door at Blue Scorcher Bakery & Cafe are delicious, but, alas, I had reached my limits.Fort George Brewery, craft beer, pacific northwest, Astoria, Oregon

I wandered through Astoria visiting a few shops, and absorbing the spirit of the town.  Godfather’s Books and Espresso turned out to be a delightfully eclectic favorite.  A selection of new and used books mingled on the shelves, and a kid on a stool, elbows propped on a counter waiting for his drink, brought back days of soda shops.

I’ll have to save the Oregon Film Museum and the Columbia River Maritime Museum for future exploration. Town closes up around 5pm on the weekdays, so start the road trip early to get a full day of adventure in.

If you do head out from Vancouver, WA, a fun detour along the way is the Gnat Creek Hatchery. Kids have the opportunity to feed some pretty large trout and sturgeon. A few short hikes depart from the parking lot, including one that leads to a beautiful little waterfall. Not a bad spot for a picnic!

Gnat Creek Hatchery