Beacon Rock State Park Loop Hike Past 15,000 Miles Milestone

Hike Distance: 9.0 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 1585.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 2058 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 207969 feet

A fantastic day to reach, and exceed, 15,000 miles on my journey!  I picked a particularly nice destination to reach this milestone; Beacon Rock State Park.

Gorgeous weather and very few people helped make this day extra special.  I parked at the equestrian trailhead and headed up the road.  I then reached an intersection, and headed onto the trail leading to the horse bridge.  After reaching the horse bridge I crossed over and soon intersected the Upper Hardy Creek trail, and then turned right.  Continuing on I turned left, just north of the Hardy Creek picnic area, which leads toward Hamilton Mt.

I only needed 5.5 miles to reach 15,000 miles, and this luckily happened while at the Hamilton Mt. Saddle.  The views from the saddle are spectacular, and the Columbia River and Table Mt. were just a couple sights seen from this high elevation vantage point!  I could also see the tip of Mt. Hood peeking above the mountains in Oregon!  I stayed on the saddle for at least 20 minutes, enjoying the moment, and then hiked back down toward the Equestrian TH.

One interesting observation on this hike was the amount of frost heaving on the shaded west side of the park.  The ground was cold, and the water formed crystals that lifted the dirt  by some fraction of an inch.  Walking on frost heaved soil is interesting in that each step causes a crunch, and your body sinks down by the amount the soil was lifted.

Cottonwood Beach & Columbia River Dike & Steigerwald NWR Hike

Hike Distance: 7.4 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 1576.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 638 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 205911 feet

A cooler day that turned down right cold due to heavy winds!  I was prepared for this weather but some of the strong gusts still are unexpected.  Knowing there would be heavy winds today I came here to avoid having the possibility of trees and/or branches falling on me!

The heavy winds sure kept away all the people, save for a few odd people like me. haha  I met a previous year PCT Thru-Hiker named “Breakpoint” and we struck up some wonderful conversation. 🙂   I thoroughly enjoyed meeting up with another serious hiker and sharing stories of our adventures.

Cottonwood Beach was empty, and the wind was tame due to the Cottonwood trees providing a break.  The sun was strong, overhead, and I enjoy taking photos of the sparkling reflection in the Columbia River.  There were also plenty of birds on the east side of Cottonwood Beach.

I next headed out east along the entirety of the Columbia River Dike, into Steigerwald NWR land.  The wind was brutal on the dike, and hiking east was like fighting against a turbo-prop.  I took quite a few breaks and enjoyed the solitude and putting my back to the wind.

The seasonal Gibbon Art trail was closed but I still went to the bridge that gives a superb view of Mt. Hood over Steigerwald Lake.  Such beauty!  There were also plenty of wintering birds in the lake, along with a few undesireable Nutria.

A great day, if you’re dressed properly!


Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail Hike from Wyeth Campground to Hole-in-the-Wall Falls

Hike Distance: 8.1 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 1569.1 miles

Elevation Gain: 689 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 205273 feet

A gorgeous clear day and where should we go?  This is a bad time to head out into the forest due to high power rifle hunting season, so we stay in safe places.  There’s a new section of the Historic Columbia River Highway Trail that was just completed, and opened, in August.  This section is between the Wyeth Campground and Lindsey Creek.

We headed out to the Wyeth Campground area and found the new parking area that was built for this section.  Only about eight cars parked at this large parking area, and we were surprised since it was a wonderful day.  There’s even a bathroom and bike pump here!

So we start walking east on the asphalted trail, and immediately see some fantastic Fall colors.  The views of the Columbia River Gorge are very nice on this section.  The best views on this section of the trail are across the river in Washington State.  Notably, Wind and Dog Mountains along with the Columbia River, are the main breathtaking views.

Also of note is that the I-84 road noise, along this section, is deafening! 😦  Way too much noise makes it difficult to talk with people right next to you.  That said, the trail does climb up and recede into a forested area for a short distance.

Also of note is that the new asphalt surface is hard on the body.  Me, my wife and son all had pain in various joints after we completed our hike.  The trail surface is definitely better for biking, and most of the people we saw were bikers.

There are some nice viewpoints that were built into the concrete ramps.  There are also plenty of places to sit and rest.  All in all, the quality of the work done to create this trail is top notch, and it shows!

We turned around at Hole-in-the-Wall Falls as we needed to get back early.  This falls is beautiful and I could stay here for a long time.  The falls area is also where the Mt. Defiance trail begins, but just remember this is one of the toughest hikes, only surpassed by mountain climbing.  In fact, mountain climbers use this trail to prepare for summitting  Mt. Hood, as it climbs almost 5000 feet in about 5 miles!

Stub Stewart State Park Area Hike

Hike Distance: 7.2 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 1561.0 miles

Elevation Gain: 1487 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 204584 feet

We had some business to take care of in Beaverton, OR, and so decided on a hike nearby in Tillamook State Forest.  LL Stub Stewart State Park has plenty of trails within it’s boundaries, and is also adjacent to the Banks-Vernonia Rails-to-Trails trail.

My only goal was to complete some trails in the area that I didn’t finish on previous hikes.  The path we took was very odd, and I’d probably not recommend that to a first time visitor to the area.  We parked at the Welcome Center, where there was plenty of parking.  We then hiked down the Timber Beast Trail and intersected the Banks-Vernonia Trail.  We headed north on the Banks-Vernonia Trail and intersected the Bumping Knots Loop Trail.

We didn’t realize just how extensive the Bumping Knots Loop Trail was and were pleasantly surprised.  This is most likely used by mountain bikers, but today the trail was empty.  The trail has the shape of the eye-of-a-needle, and is a total 5 miles long!!!  A beautiful trail,  that was almost completely leaf covered and a pleasure to walk upon.

We returned to the parking area along the Timber Beast Trail (another mountain bike like trail, but multi-use designated).  We strolled along an interpretive trail when close to the car, as an addition to the hike.

A better day couldn’t be asked for.  It was cooler, windy and had plenty of sun.  We only saw a few bikers on the Banks-Vernonia trail, and the other trails were devoid of people. 🙂

Battleground Lake and Chelatchie Prairie Railroad Trail Hike

Hike Distance: 6.7 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 1553.8 miles

Elevation Gain: 916 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 203097 feet

A cloudy cool day that turned to rain, and then the sky cleared at the end of the hike.  Such a nice Fall day and enjoying all the leaves on the ground.  The park was practically empty, except for some people fishing on the shoreline and in some boats.  I think they’re logging part of the large private lot north of Battleground Lake State Park as I heard heavy equipment, that sounds like logging machines, but didn’t see trees falling…yet? Just depressing how much is being developed in this county, and land being converted from farms/forest to asphalt and homes. 😦

I talked with a state park volunteer about the Ivy he was pulling down from some trees.  He said that the battle was lost, as this invasive vine was just too widespread throughout the park.  He also mentioned that the Holly was everywhere.  Still, the need exists to remove as much as possible!