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Oregon has thousands of trails and beautiful places to explore. From incredible waterfalls to breathtaking mountain tops, Oregon doesn’t disappoint. If you don’t have much time but you love the outdoor, here are 10 easy hikes in Oregon you can enjoy during your day off.
1. Silver Falls- The Trail of Ten Falls
Distance: 0.5-8.7 miles
How many trails contain so many waterfalls? In this State Park, you can find 10 different waterfalls! Only an hour drive from Portland, it is the perfect day trip for families and outdoor lovers. I have been there a few times and every time I’m amazed all over again. There are a few trails from easy to moderate, short (0.5 miles) to long (8.7 miles) depends on the waterfalls you want to see. The most beautiful falls are: South Falls, Lower South Falls, Middle North Falls, and North Falls. The south and north locate close to their parking and you can see them without hiking.
2. Starvation Creek Falls
Distance: 0.1 miles
Type: Out & Back
My favorite hidden gem! You can reach the falls without hiking (only 0.1 miles). It’s a great place to combine with biking/ running/ walking on the Columbia Gorge biking trail. The trail is 73 miles where you can run/ cycle and stop to see waterfalls or hike one of the trails. Read my Columbia River Gorge guide to plan the perfect day trip in the area!
I love the waterfall because you can climb all the way to the top and literally touch the waterfall. For me, it felt like I’m in a mystical place. There’s a nice place at the top where you can eat your snacks or simply enjoy the beauty of the place. They’re also a few picnic tables at the bottom which makes it the best place to stop while visiting the Columbia River Gorge.
3. Trillium Lake
Distance: Changes (read below)
Elevation: 26 feet
This is the first place I saw in Oregon. Trillium Lake is located in Mt. Hood National Forest and about an hour and a half driving from Portland. The view from the lake is amazing. The water is blue and pure, and you can see snowy Mt. Hood from everywhere you stand (and it’s a reflection on the water). We arrived during the fall (November), it was cold, but we enjoyed the view and walked near the lake. There are many picnic tables and it’s a beautiful spot to stop while traveling to Mt. Hood. In the summer it’s an amazing place to swim, have a picnic, and enjoy tubes and kayaks.
During the winter, the road to the parking area is close and you have to park in the Trillium Access Hill or Trillium Sno-Park. The hike is a 3.6 or 4.4 miles loop depending on the place you parked. During the summer, the hike is 2 miles from the Trillium Lake Campground.
4. Beaver Falls
Distance: 0.6 miles
Type: Out & Back
One of the easiest hikes near Portland and the most beautiful hidden gem in northwestern Oregon. The waterfall is so pretty and peaceful. My friend and I went on a weekday and had the whole place to ourselves which allowed us to enjoy the silence and the beauty of the place without the traffic. Apparently, the falls were popular when it was the main road from Portland to Astoria, when the highway moved, the falls became less touristic. If you’re visiting during the week, you’ll probably have the entire place to yourself. You can swim in the water and have a picnic.
5. Wahkeena Falls
Distance: 3.1 miles/ 4.7 miles
Type: Out & Back/ loop
Elevation: 915 ft/ 1591 ft
Beautiful waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge. There are two options for this trail. The first one is 3.1 miles out & back and the second is a 4.7 miles loop that contains 4 more waterfalls: Multnomah Falls, Weisendanger Falls, Ecola Falls, and Fairy Falls. Parts of the loop are currently closed (as for Dec-12th) and I recommend checking on “AllTrails” before you go. The shorter trail is still open, and I highly recommend going there if you’re visiting the Columbia Gorge. I have been there during the winter and it was stunning and snowy.
6. Tamanawas Falls
Distance: 3.8 miles
Type: Out & Back
Elevation: 570 ft
Tamanawas falls located 2 hours from Portland in Mt. Hood National Forest. The Indians of the northwest believed everyone has a Tamanawas- a friendly guardian spirit. When I looked for this place for the first time, its name seems so strange to me and I couldn’t understand it’s meaning. After reading about its history and stand beneath those falls I can relate to this. They’re so powerful and seem like the guardians of Mt. hood.
The hike is beautiful and easy, the landscape changes in the middle from the forest to the road full of giant rocks. When you arrive at the waterfalls you can go on the rocks and get closer to the falls and even go behind them. Pack your lunch and eat it on one of the rocks, it the perfect spot to relax and enjoy the moment. You can only hear the sound of the fall and enjoy the company of your friends or family.
Extra- if you’re visiting during the winter/ when there’s still snow, come with a slide and stop in one of the sno-parks to enjoy the snow. Mt. Hood is the perfect day trip from Portland and offers the best attractions for every season.
7. Proxy Falls
Distance: 1.6 miles
Elevation: 147 ft
One of my favorite waterfalls in Oregon! I explain more about this place in my blog, The Best 5 Waterfalls in Oregon. The hike was so unique because the landscape kept changing. You can see lava rocks, forest, and of course the waterfalls. The trail is a bit rocky at the beginning which can make it a bit difficult for some people, but after you pass the lava rocks it’s flat till the end of the trail. You can only visit when HWY 242 is open. The highway is a scenic road that opens only during the summer. It usually opens late-June but you have to check out their opening dates before you go.
8. Smith Rock
Definitely my favorite hike in Oregon! This is the most unique place I’ve ever seen and such a beautiful hike! Everyone can find a trail- they have easy, moderate, and hard trails (the most difficult trail is 7.3 miles loop). You can climb a mountain, run, bike, and even ride a horse. We choose the moderate trail- 3.7 miles name “Reverse misery ridge loop”.
Words can’t describe this beauty! We started from a tough 600-foot elevator gain. When we arrived at the top it was incredible, we saw the entire valley and state park. The park reminds the beautiful Arizona with a little twist, where you can see the snowy Cascade mountains. I’ve never seen a place that combines so many different views and geographic elements.
9. Angel’s Rest
Distance: 5 miles
Type: Out & Back
Elevation: 1500 feet
This hike takes you to one of the most beautiful views of the Columbia River Gorge. This is the most challenging trail on this list but definitely worth going. During the winter, the hike is icy and can be difficult if you don’t have the right equipment. I tried this trail in March and we had to go back because it was too slippery. Then, I came in September and reached all the way to the top. My friend and I ate our lunch at the top, looking at the breathtaking view.
10. Multnomah Falls
Difficulty: Longer trail- moderate, short trail- easy
Distance: 5.6 miles, 2 miles
Type: Loop. Out & back
The most famous waterfall in Oregon. You can simply watch the waterfalls, hike, or eat. The trails are currently closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. You can still see the waterfalls and grab something to drink or eat at the local restaurant. The short hike is easy and beautiful. You climb all the way to the top of the fall where you can see the incredible view of the Columbia River Gorge. If you keep going you can see more waterfalls includes the Wahkenna falls that I mentioned above.
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