I figured for my first post here (which is a totally other exciting thing on its own!!) I would talk about my most recent trip to Oregon. This trip was the most representative of my adventure style and I think it’s great for those of you who are wondering if I ever work. Of course I do! I got very lucky with this trip because not only was it a week-long summer break from work, but it also happened to fall on some very important family time. I am all about fitting the adventures in when I can — a.k.a killing two birds with one stone, so to speak. Sometimes I run myself ragged, but for me, it’s all worth it in the end.
First and foremost for this trip was booking flights. I try to do this at least a month in advance. Normally I love driving to my destinations, but I was on time constraints and needed to be in Bend the morning after a full day of work (and this is how my trips usually happen.) When I book flights I use Google Flights. It seriously has the most user-friendly interface when it comes to finding affordable flights because there is absolutely no B.S. This time around I had to book two separate one-way flights: LAX→RDM and then PDX→LAX.
The second part of my planning was getting out an old-fashioned paper map and tracing a highway I wanted to take. I decided to take McKenzie Pass from Bend to Salem. This offered several cool hiking and camping options.
Hike #1: Smith Rocks State Park
As far as Oregon goes, I’m not used to the desert in a place that’s deemed as rainy, but it sure is beautiful. I started at the Homestead trail and took it to River trail and ended it a bit early. The outside of the park isn’t nearly as beautiful as along the river. Here is the trail map I marked to show you all my route:
At the bottom of the hill from Homestead trail.
Here is the spot that the otter was sighted, although I wasn’t fast enough to snap a picture because I was too distracted by how adorable he was.
These last two pictures were snapped along the River trail.
And finally, I couldn’t leave without a good picture in my hammock.
At the end of the hike, I took the Chute trail back up to the road. It’s definitely necessary for the iconic view of Smith Rocks.
Hike #2: Steelhead Falls
I have to say, I thought I’d find it tough to love Central Oregon as much as Western Oregon, but this hike really tipped me over. The trail begins down a very rough dirt road, so if you have a little car with low clearance I would consider taking something that won’t get beat up as easily. Luckily I was in a truck.
The trail to the falls itself is very short, however you can continue past the falls to a few little river coves to go swimming. I’m a huge baby about water temperature and I thought it was pretty chilly, but there were lots of cliff jumpers!
I was lucky this time around and was joined by my dad and my uncle.
There are signs all over the trail warning you to stay on the correct trail, except there are lots of created trails and some that lead down to the river. We decided to take some of the trails that led along the river which seemed to be a great choice.
Finally, we reached the falls.
Again, I had to find another perfect hammock spot.
After I snapped my comfy picture, my dad and I kept on hiking down the trail along the river.
At this point we spotted something odd floating across the river, and after pulling out a set of binoculars, realized it was an otter carrying a reed on its belly. It was the cutest thing I’d seen since the otter at Smith Rocks.
We hiked back after spotting the otter, because it was reaching the lower 90’s and, like I said, I’m a baby about temperature. This hike offered little shade, but the beauty was worth it.
After this hike, I made my way to Tumalo Falls before heading to McKenzie Pass. (In case you weren’t aware, Oregon is waterfalls galore.)
Hike #3: Tumalo Falls
This hike took several surprising turns. I had done some research earlier on where the trailhead was exactly. It turns out you can practically drive right up to it just as a scenic stop or you can start at another trailhead and create your own series or loop. I just did the scenic stop which made the trail about 1.5 miles or so. According to the map at the trailhead, you can turn it into a 6 mile loop or more if you have the time to do so. There are also some great mountain biking trails along this series for you avid bikers. Either way you decide to see it, you should definitely make it a stop. I found a secret trail that leads right under the falls itself. Trailblazin’ Tamara at your service. Keep reading to find out more about the secret trail!
The first viewpoint you walk to gives you a nice distant view of the falls and is just before the secret side trail up to the bottom of the falls. After this point you will continue up a hill and just as the corner bends to the right you will see a small worn path heading in the direction of the falls.
Disclosure: this part of the hike is not easy. The trail is technically not a trail. It is very narrow, and at times a bit rocky. I had to clamber down some tree roots and rocks in a few spots, but if you are okay with that then keep going until you get to the falls!
I couldn’t help but snap a picture of this insanely lucky side trail find.
Tumalo Falls is way more gorgeous when it’s closer up without a handrail blocking the view.
I needed to get right up under the falls. Cliché.
Of course I ran underneath. Who wouldn’t?
After cooling off in this surprisingly freezing water, I hiked back to the normal trail and continued to the top of the falls. The top offers an extremely nice view of the river through the valley.
After the top, I hiked back down and headed on to McKenzie Pass.
Keep an eye out for Oregon: Part 2
To be continued…