Strawberry Island & Fort Cascades Trails Hike

Hike Distance: 6.8 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 1905.3 miles

Elevation Gain: 481 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 244241 feet

Windy, rainy and cold, and located in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge!  What better conditions to enjoy an amazing hike in the Pacific Northwest. 🙂  Strawberry Island and the Fort Cascades trail offer outstanding views of both the Oregon and Washington sides of the Columbia River Gorge, and is located at the town of North Bonneville.

There is parking located near the gas station, just off of Hwy 14.  There is also parking for the Strawberry Island trail system, but we’ve never parked there.  If you can’t google and find the Strawberry Island parking area I’d be glad to help.  The trails system for Strawberry Island is extensive, so you’ll need a map.  I’ve included my track for the hike so maybe that will help?

You can basically do a loop on Strawberry Island, and that’s what we did.  There are extensive views of the gorge and Hamilton Creek along the trail.  We went counter-clockwise around the island.  We also took a side trail, on the south side of the island, and went down to a trail that gives access to the Columbia River shoreline.  We didn’t go on the shore because of the people fishing, and the rocks on the beach were large and wouldn’t be fun to walk upon.

The trail on the southern side of the island actually ascends to a fantastic view, at the highest point of the island.  There are benches there (and at many other places) to enjoy this fantastic 360 degree view!  We then descended from this high point and crossed a road, which is the start of the Ft Cascades Trail.  The Fort Cascades Trail is a great place to learn about the history of this outpost.  There is a nice information exhibit of the history.  There is also a self guided tour on the trail system for the fort.  Very few remnants of the fort exist, except for a grave and some train related exhibits.  Parking for the Ft. Cascades Loop trail is located on the eastern side of the trail, just off Hwy 14.

Such a great day.  This place is rarely crowded, and for the Columbia River Gorge that is a luxury!

Moulton Falls Trail Hantwick Rd TH into Washington DNR Forest Land Hike

Hike Distance: 7.8 miles        Yearly Hike Distance: 1898.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 1963 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 243760 feet

I felt like some elevation gain but obviously overdid it, after ascending 1963 feet.  I love this area and knew there was plenty of elevation gain to be had.  I parked at the Moulton Falls Trail at the Hantwick Road parking area and just started walking up the road to a gate that leads into Washington DNR (Department of Natural Resources) land.  This land is open to the public and is typically devoid of people.

I kept ascending up the road, and it seemed to never end.  I took it slowly as my SI joint was not too happy with this decision.  I finally got to a side road and set out to explore where it went.  Several roads spawned from this side road and all led to views of the Yacolt valley area, and most of the views were very nice.  It sure helped to have some fog or clouds in the pictures!  Unfortunately, some of the views were tainted by clear cuts and various stages of new tree growth.  However, I did see some daisies blooming and it brought a smile to my face.

On the return hike I heard a dog barking constantly, in the location where I was going.  The dog barking didn’t bother me but I was concerned the dog was sounding an alarm to possibly deer, elk or maybe even a bear or cougar?  This bothered me enough that I was on guard for much of the return hike to my car.  There always seems to be some issue on every hike, and it sure makes for another story. 🙂

It turns out it was uneventful getting back to the car.  When I returned there was a family with kids and several dogs preparing to go for a walk.  It was so lucky for me that I must have stepped in a pile of crap, possibly from their dogs, or maybe not.  Either way I had one boot that smelled like crap. P.U

Another day and more storied to tell! 🙂

Battleground Lake State Park Hike

Hike Distance: 5.6 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 1890.7 miles

Elevation Gain: 924 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 244241 feet

And another great hike at Battleground State Park!  I’m doing my best to try and understand how I can best hike with my SI (sacroiliac joint)  back problem.  My SI joint is still causing me problems and I’ve been doing so much to try and work through this issue.  I warm up (using a heating pad) the joint and then do stretching exercises that I’ve learned before.  I’m taking Aleve and muscle relaxers.  I’m also taking smaller steps, as the doctor ordered.  I’ve even lowered my backpack weight by several pounds to lower the load on this joint.

The most important thing I learned today is that I’ve somehow changed my stride/gait to accommodate my right knee meniscus tear from many years ago.  About five years ago I tore my meniscus at Crater Lake National Park, on the last day of our vacation!  I subsequently had surgery to get rid of the torn tissue, and my knee hasn’t ever felt the same.  As a consequence, I have been protecting my right knee by using my left leg/hip to take the shock off the right side.  The bottom line is that I haven’t had a normal stride and the compensation I made has been damaging my left SI joint and hip.

I was able to scrutinize my walking technique, on this hike, and make some improvements that helped.  That said, I’m no physical therapist and still need a professional to help me assess and map a plan for getting better.  I have my first physical therapy appointment in the beginning of next year, so I’m hopeful for getting better over time! 🙂

Getting back to this hike, I hiked around the outer periphery of the park, in a counter-clockwise direction.  After completing this loop, I repeated a clockwise loop on a trail that was about halfway to the rim.  It was a delightful hike and I saw no people until I got next to the lake, at the end of the hike.  At the lake there were plenty of people fishing.  A very nice day. 🙂

Hwy 503 Trail Hike from SW Eaton Blvd to NE Caples Road

Hike Distance: 5.6 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 1885.1 miles

Elevation Gain: 194 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 240873 feet

How do I describe this hike?  This is a hike I’ve been not wanting to do for a very long time!  You heard that correctly.  This is a trail that parallels a highway near Battleground Washington.  I found it on google maps, many years ago, while looking for local hiking opportunities, and put it on my list of hikes when I’m desperate and just don’t care where I go.  Well, I’m trying to heal my back, and today was going to be a rainy day (which didn’t happen).  If you decide to walk this 2.7 mile walkway then know there is no bathroom along the way!

My real purpose for hiking this walkway is that home and business development, in the Battleground area of Clark County Washington, is running rampant! 😦  Yes, everyone is moving to this area in the NE county as it’s beautiful and located in the reasonably low tax rate of Washington.  Another perk is that Washington State has no income tax.  You may ask, what kind of high paying jobs are here, and I would reply “I don’t believe there are many”.  I’m not aware of there being many high paying jobs in SW Washington but there are plenty in Portland, OR.  Yes, the drive to any place in Portland is a nightmare but there’s plenty of land in Washington so people move here and work in Portland.

I know about the nightmare travel to Portland as I worked in Wilsonville and commuted to Salmon Creek.  Let’s just say that the commute almost killed me after 8.5 years and I couldn’t do it anymore.  That said, many people are moving from areas that have even worse traffic and are willing to put up with this nightmare. Portland, from what I read, is in the top 10 worst traffic cities in the country, and I don’t doubt it.  Another sad fact is that people think they’re moving to the pacific northwest for its beauty and outdoor activities but it’s being destroyed at an alarming rate.  It’s tough to even enjoy the outdoors now because of the overcrowding (which is why I hike frequently on forest roads), and the amount of disrespect and trashing of these beautiful places!

Sorry for being long winded and whiny.  As I was saying, the beautiful farms and open lands are being sold at a furious rate, along with this hwy 503 corridor, from SW Eaton Blvd to NE Caples Road.  So, I decided to document the undeveloped places before they disappear completely.  I did the same thing with one of the last large u-pick strawberry farm, and it’s now a 240 home subdivision.  Sigh.

I parked at a shopping center on the north side of Eaton Blvd and crossed the road to start the trail.  The land just south of Eaton is all for sale or already sold, and it’s beautiful farmland at the moment.  There  are some homes just off hwy 503 and I don’t know how they handle the noise or exhaust pollution.  The noise and exhaust was terrible for the entire hike.  I must have lost some of my hearing during this walk. 😦

Heading south you’ll see the farms and some homes, and there’s even a golf course that is being planned.  Just think about those wonderful golf balls landing on Hwy 503, while the cars are moving at 60mph.  Yikes!  The trail meets up with a side street and this continues for about 3/10 mile.  This happens to be a good place to park, and I met a women who frequents this trail and always parks there.

At the end of this side road you cross another road and continue on.  The trail climbs, and there’s a nice forested area here.  The trail then descends and goes down to the Salmon Creek basin.  I found a side trail that heads toward a pond but it terminates in mud.  I don’t know if this is a real trail but there’s plenty of garbage, indicating it’s used by people.  Continuing along the hwy 503 trail there are great scenic views of Salmon Creek and a couple large ponds!  This area is the only redeeming factor for this walkway.  Unfortunately, the walkway in the area of Salmon Creek is separated from Hwy 503 by a low barrier.  I was scared or a vehicle picking up a rock and killing me, while in this area.

After passing the Salmon Creek area the trail continues past a business and other farms and homes until you reach NE Caples Road.  The trail terminates in some crosswalks here.  Please note that all the road crossings have lights and are very safe.  I turned around and high-tailed it back to my car.  I’ll never walk this path again but am glad I did it once!


Salmon Creek Greenway Trail Hike

Hike Distance: 6.6 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 1879.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 382 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 240679 feet

Wanting to take it slowly so as not to aggravate my hip again I opted for this lovely local hike.  I wish it were a bit more exciting to repeatedly put this location in my blog but sometimes we repeat hikes for many reasons.  I really need to take the doctor’s advise and stay on more level areas and not go too far.  The Salmon Creek Greenway fit the bill today.

I’m not going to describe every turn as it feels repetitive and mundane, for a trip report.  My goal was to visit the Salmon Creek rapids, located east of Hwy 5, visit the Klineline Park area and do a loop on the west side of the Greenway.  This is a typical hike I do in the area and is filled with plenty of water views, which I love.

I took my time and walked fairly slowly today.  I observed plenty of people fishing but have no idea if they were catching anything.  The crowds were much less when I went west and completed the loop.

One area I had never visited before was a side trail that  went through a ravine (on the return loop), crossed some private property (which the owners have approved) and met a private road.  I took this road up to 119th street and then turned around.  I met a nice man, and his dog, on the way back, and we had a nice discussion.  I had to excuse myself and get back on the trail or I would have missed an appointment later in the afternoon.

A very nice day and my back had no complaints. 🙂