Shady hikes for our June 2022 heat wave

The heat is suddenly here and everyone will be flocking to our local waterways. In addition to being crowded, our waterways aren’t the safest places during the rapid snowmelt that comes with our first heat wave of the year. The awesome thing about our area is that we have so many amazing forests that can keep us cool on the hottest days. Below are my recommendations of hikes that should currently be snow-free, shady, and keep you away from the big bodies of water that will be rushing and dangerous right now.

Whistle Punk Trail, “little feet hiking” guide

From my first guide “little feet hiking”:

-Vancouver Lake North Trail (stay out of the lake due to hazardous lake conditions)

-Salmon-Morgan Creeks Natural Area (there is a small creek on this hike)

-WSU Cougar Trails (there is a small creek on this hike)

-Whipple Creek (there is a small creek on this hike)

-Volcano View Trail (need Ape Cave Parking reservation)

-Whistle Punk Trail

-Saddle Dam (there is a small creek on this hike)

-Goat Marsh Lake

-Summit Springs (the creeks you cross will be running high, but probably couldn’t sweep you away)

Merrill Lake Conservation Area, “little feet hiking two”

From my second guide “little feet hiking two”:

-Columbia Springs

-Battle Ground Lake

-Lower Marble Creek Falls

-Fort Cascades Historic Site (stay on the trail to avoid the Columbia River)

-Merrill Lake Conservation Area

-Cedar Flats Natural Area

-Lacamas Lower Falls (Lacamas Creek will be rushing, but the trail doesn’t go close to it)

-Pacific Crest from Trout Creek

-Larch Mountain (WA)

Barlow Wayside hike, “little feet hiking: Mt. Hood”

From my third guide “little feet hiking: Mt. Hood”:

-Barlow Wayside

-Lost Creek (there is a creek, but it shouldn’t be so rushing that it carries you away)

-any of the three Lost Lake hikes in my book

-Catalpa Lake

-Still Creek Trail (there is a large creek at the turnaround point)

-Pioneer Bridle Trail

-Meditation Point

-Hidden Lake

-Lower Twin Lake

Nellie Corser Wildlife Unit, “little feet hiking: Columbia River Gorge”

From my fourth guide “little feet hiking: Columbia River Gorge”:

-Bridal Veil Falls (there is creek access here, but it shouldn’t be so rushing that it carries you away)

-Latourell Falls (there is creek access here, but it shouldn’t be so rushing that it carries you away)

-Larch Mountain Environmental Education Site (there is a small creek here)

-Larch Mountain Summit

-Wahkeena and Fairy Falls (needs corridor reservation, creek crossings)

-Nellie Corser Wildlife Area (there is creek access here, but it shouldn’t be so rushing that it carries you away)

-Dry Creek Falls (there is creek access here, but it shouldn’t be so rushing that it carries you away)

-Emerald Falls (there is creek access here, but it shouldn’t be so rushing that it carries you away)

-Skamania Lodge Trails

-Fort Cascades (stay on the trail to avoid the Columbia River)

Tarbell Trail – Yacolt Burn State Forest

View of Mt. St. Helens from the trail

Do you love wildflowers and volcano views? Yeah, so do I 😁

I’m always telling you all about the under-rated Tarbell Trail in the Yacolt Burn State Forest (write-up in “little feet hiking“). This time of year, the area is full of native wildflowers, migratory birds, animal tracks, and volcano views (on clear days of course). I’ve been hiking this trail for 10 years and it has been so neat to see the clearcut forest grow back and the diversity of the plants growing along the trail. Today, I saw anemone flower blooming and tiger lily not far behind.

The best time to visit if you want to see wildflowers is late May through June. Keep an eye out for wild irises and lupine in the more open areas, and beargrass when hiking through the shadier forest section.

Wild iris and lupine blooming on the trail in June

Remember to bring your WA Discover Pass, sun protection and extra water on this hike. On sunny days, there isn’t much cover from the sun. Also, avoid drinking the non-potable water at the trailhead (the water is for horses) and watch out for mountain bikes zooming down the trail.

Awesome rock along the trail

Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge is finally open!

The new entrance to the refuge.

Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge is open after a 2 year closure! I love the new trail…the first mile takes you along the dike, so you get an amazing vantage point looking down. After the first mile, you can get deeper into the refuge and now hike over 4 miles! Today we saw a white pelican, a bittern, herons roosting, an osprey with babies, purple martens, a red tail hawk, an egret, and more. So excited to visit regularly and update my hike descriptions.

View of Larch Mountain (Oregon) from the Mountain View Trail

Parking was challenging on opening day, so try visiting on a weekday in the coming weeks. There is a lot of excitement about the new trails, which all have new names. Also, remember that the trails aren’t complete yet, so it will look like a bit of a construction zone in some places. Check out the new trail map and head on over!

Big thanks to Columbia Gorge Refuge Stewards, Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other partners for making this happen! Check out this great write-up here.

Portland Metro Kid-friendly Trails – East of I-205

It may be a while before I get to a Portland Metro kid’s hiking book. But I’d like to share some great kid-friendly trails for different areas of the Metro area. Below are trails east of I-205, but also not considered to be in the Gorge or at Mt. Hood.

Photo: Jamie Hale/The Oregonian

Oxbow Regional Park:

  • Many trails from which to choose
  • Recommend the Ancient Forest Loop
  • Highlights include: shady forests, wildlife, river access
  • Risks include: lack of cell service swift and cold river

Main website:

Brochure and map:

Kids’ Activity

Photo credit:

Powell Butte:

  • Many trails from which to choose
  • Recommend the 1.4 mile round trip to summit
  • Highlights include: volcano views, wildflower meadows, shady forests

Main website:

Trail map:

Hike description:

Photo Credit:

Mt. Talbert Nature Park

  • Up to 4.2 miles of hiking
  • Highlights include: hiking atop an extinct volcano, creek access, shady forest, city views, and wildlife viewing opportunities. 

Main website:
Great trail

Photo credit:

Scouter’s Mountain

  • 1.25 miles of trail
  • Highlights include: views of Mt. Hood, old forest, picnic shelter, spring flowers, and the opportunity to hike on top of an extinct volcano

Main website:

Access Trails hike description:

Hike it Baby hike description:

Photo credit: Jessica Becker

Tickle Creek:

  • Up to 1.8 miles one-way
  • Highlights include: creek access, pretty western red cedar trees, nurse logs, and five fun bridges

Hike it Baby trail description:

Hiking project trail description:

Photo Credit: Resa K.,

Cazadero State Trail

  • Up to 6 miles round-trip
  • Recommend starting from Boring trailhead (although it is uphill on the way back)
  • Highlights include: creek access (keep an eye out for unmarked trails taking you down to the creek), old western red cedar trees, and wide gravel path
  • The trail follows the old Oregon Water Power and Railway Company line

Access Trails hike description:

Trail Link hike description:

Photo credit: Oregon State Parks

Milo McIver State Park

  • Up to 6 miles of trails (consider checking out the 2 mile Riverbend Loop)
  • Highlights include: Clackamas river views, shady forest, Mt. Hood views, and lots of amenities

State Parks website:

Great write-up from Our Big Little Adventures:

Brochure and trail map:

Photo credit:

Eagle Fern Park

  • Up to 4 miles of trails
  • Highlights include: old-growth forest, ADA-accessible interpretive trail, creek, nurse logs, birds, playground, and more

Main website:

Trail guide:

Trip Report from Trail Dad:

What other kid-friendly trails east of I-205 do you love? Comment below.

Bells Mountain Trail from Cold Creek Day Use Area

When it’s raining/snowing/hailing, one of my favorite hikes is along the Bells Mountain Trail starting from Cold Creek Day Use Area (located in the Yacolt Burn State Forest in Southwest Washington). The western red cedar and Douglas fir trees protect you from falling precipitation and the creek is so lovely. There are several beach spots along the creek and a lot of native plants budding and blooming. You can learn more about this 3.6 mile hike and it’s western red cedar trails in my first book “little feet hiking.”

Waterfall near the trailhead
Short user trail down to the creek
So many types of trees: western hemlocks, Douglas firs, western red cedars, and big-leafed maples
Skunk cabbage (yellow flowers) and false hellebore (looks a bit like corn stalks)
Weathered trillium flower
Bridge near trailhead
Western red cedar trees
Amazing nurse stump