Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hikes I Like

As I mentioned in my last blog, I love to hike! In fact, my idea of the perfect date is a hike with my beloved husband (and my spazzy little dog, Scout). We'll pack a light picnic--usually crackers and fruit, red wine and aged cheese--and head for the hills. Or the beach. Or the Gorge.

That's the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. There are so many wonderful trails to choose from!

I think, if pressed to pick my favorite hike, I would have to go with the Mirror Lake/Tom, Dick and Harry Ridge trail up on Mt. Hood. It's a moderate 5.2 mile round trip hike, but there are so many things I love about this trek! For one thing, you reach Mirror Lake after 1 1/2 miles of lovely switchbacks, and on a clear day, you have a stunning view of Mt. Hood. Hike around the lake, and you get a visual double-whammy--the majestic peak mirrored in the alpine lake. You can fish, swim, camp or just catch your breath at the lake. It gets a little steeper going up the ridge, but the payoff at the top is worth it. On a clear day you can see five different mountains from the ridge: Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Ranier, Mt. Adams and Mt. Jefferson.

We usually save our picnic for the ridge--it motivates us to push on through the more rigorous part of the trek!

Greg and I hiked this trail a few weeks ago, and there's a patch about halfway between the lake and the ridge that was so strewn with wildflowers it took my breath away. We were came around a bend and Mt. Hood sprang into view, glorious as always. But it was the extravagant array of color that stopped me in my tracks. I felt like God had rolled out the red carpet for us that day! Lupine and Indian Paintbrush, bluebells and trillum, arnica and wild roses--and there were so many I can't even name!

Another plus--there are oodles of huckleberries to pick in the fall. And you can snowshoe up to Mirror Lake in the winter. Mt. Hood doesn't look too shabby with its winter coat :)

For trail in the Gorge, I'd have to say Angel's Rest is my top pick. It's just 4.6 miles long and deemed "moderate" in my hiking book. There are some fairly steep spots--you get a workout--but there are lots of scenic places to stop along the way. Again, I love the payoff at the top--there's an amazing outcropping of rock where you can sit and picnic and enjoy a panoramic view of the Columbia River gorge. And when you get back down to the parking area, Multnomah Falls Lodge is just a few miles down the road. I've developed a real addiction to their soft-serve ice cream!

This week I hiked another favorite--the Silver Falls loop (not far from Salem). The only drawback to this trail is the fact that dogs aren't allowed in the lower Canyon--which is where most of the waterfalls are. You can do either a 5 or 7 mile loop and enjoy waterfalls, wildlife and rainforesty flora. Our big adventure on this hike was watching a small garter snake drag a very large mouse up the side of a steep hill.

If you live in the area and like to hike, I lead an "Extreme Women" hiking/fishing/snowshoeing group you might be interested in. We usually meet on the first Saturday of the month and enjoy the great outdoors together. I keep a blog fairly updated about upcoming events. (it's listed as Extreme Womens Events under my links). You'll probably find pictures and links to the hikes mentioned above.

If you have a favorite hike I've not mentioned, I'd love to hear about it! Leave me a comment if you'd like!

(Pictured are Danielle, Candyce and me at the Silver Falls trail)