travel

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

Hiking Report: Hamilton Mountain Loop Trail, Beacon Rock State Park

I settled on the Hamilton Mountain Loop hike for my next adventure after seeing the below picture on Instagram, posted by @oh__seriously.

 

Wouldn’t it be nice if we occasionally had the foresight to know if a given path was the hard version, or the harder version? If we could somehow see into the future and know what we were getting into?

I never did see that sign on my hike. I started out from the Hamilton Mountain Trailhead, and when I reached the junction to choose the hard or harder version, they weren’t labeled that way. So I continued to follow the Hamilton Mountain Summit Trail, eager to see Rodney Falls. And yes, it’s the harder way, and worth every step.

Rodney Falls, Beacon Rock State Park, Columbia River Gorge, Washington

The trail on Hamilton Mountain is littered with leaves of orange and yellow at the moment. Everything still feels so new to me but I’ve been in Vancouver, WA for 3 months, long enough to see the seasons start to change, and it’s a beautiful thing. Eventually I climbed high enough to be treated with a view of Beacon Rock. Even in the midst of transition, there are foundational bedrocks, standing true and stalwart.

 

Beacon Rock State Park, Columbia River Gorge, Washington

A bit under 2.5 miles and I reached the summit. The day was clear enough to see Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, Table Mountain, and Bonneville Dam off in the distance. I swear hiking is like giving birth – the exhilaration of the summit vista always leaves me forgetting the difficulty of the hike up. (Side note – this is an exaggeration. I’m sure giving birth is much harder.)

I met the nicest couple at the top; they had me posing for pictures before I could even say hi. They were also divine intervention, convincing me to take the easier way down and complete the loop despite the extra mileage. If I had gone down the way I came up, I would have missed The Saddle, and the below amazingness.

 

Location: Hamilton Mountain Trailhead, Beacon Rock State Park along the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge

Distance: 7.87 for the loop, 6.4 if you go out and back along the Hamilton Mt. Summit Trail

Elevation: 2038’ gain, summit at 2438’

Time: 4.5 hours, with breaks on the way up for pictures

Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult, depending on level of fitness

Fees: $10 day Discover Pass, $30 annual Discover Pass

Tips:

  • Great day hike option when visiting Portland, OR or Vancouver, WA
  • Take lots of pictures on the way up Hamilton Mt Summit Trail, as the summit is overgrown with shrubbery
  • Do the full loop for the best experience – Hamilton Mt Summit Trail on the way up, Hardy Trail back down
  • Skip the Hardy Falls Viewing Area detour, the views are much better at the Rodney Falls Pool of Winds detour just a bit further down the trail
  • Near the summit, portions of the trail are very steep and narrow. I did fine without hiking poles, but they would have been nice to have.