PLEASE READ THE FULL DESCRIPTION BELOW!!!
Tired of the spring gloom and drizzle in Portland? Let's head to the east side of the Cascades where it should be drier and sunnier! This TWO-DAY weekend outing will take in two of central Oregon's best state parks: Cove Palisades (at Lake Billy Chinook) and Smith Rock. We'll do a nice day hike at each park (a gentler one on Saturday and a more challenging one on Sunday), and will car camp at Smith Rock on Saturday night between the two hikes, giving us the opportunity to enjoy the dramatic scenery at sunset and sunrise as well. If you love desert scenery and spectacular rock formations, this event is for you!
SATURDAY Hike (Cove Palisades)
Rating: Gentle to Moderate
Elevation gain: 650 feet
Hike distance: 7.2 miles
Hiking time: 3-4 hours
The 7.2-mile Tam-a-lau Trail is Cove Palisades State Park's only significant trail, but once we climb the bluff on top of which most of the trail lies, there should be some great views of the cliffs and canyons which surround Lake Billy Chinook. Most of the hike won't be too strenuous (aside from getting up the 600-foot bluff) and should be a good warm-up for the slightly longer and more demanding hike on Sunday at Smith Rock. I've not been to Cove Palisades myself, so we'll discover the area together. Here's more information about the trail: http://www.oregonstateparks.org/images/pdf/palisades_hiking.pdf
After this hike, if there's time we can make a quick stop at Peter Skene Ogden State Scenic Viewpoint (http://www.oregonstateparks.org/park_50.php) to see the impressive Crooked River Canyon, then head to nearby Smith Rock State Park to camp for the night. The campsites are a short walk from the parking lot, and also just a short walk from the river and the rocks themselves. If it's a clear day, sunset and sunrise could be really nice here. You have the option tonight to bring your own dinner food and eat in camp, or drive to nearby Terrebonne where there's an excellent little food/drink spot.
SUNDAY Hike (Smith Rock)
Rating: Moderate to Difficult, with a little steep off-trail scrambling
Elevation gain: about 1,000 feet from lowest to highest point, but with ups and downs it will be more like 3,000 feet in total
Hike distance: 9 miles
Hiking time: 5-6 hours
If you haven't been to Smith Rock State Park before, you're in for a visual treat...it's like a little slice of Utah in our own back yard, with stunning 300-foot cliffs and pinnacles lining the aptly-named Crooked River. While the park is better-known for its rock climbing (which can be fascinating to watch even though we won't be joining in), it offers enough hiking trails to make the long drive from Portland and back well worthwhile.
This hike is graded as Moderate to Difficult. While significant stretches along the river at the base of the cliffs are fairly flat, there are also some very steep and slippery sections on the ascents to Misery and Staender Ridges, including a steep off-trail scramble shortcut between two of the trails. Please contact the organizer (Matt T) if you have concerns about whether the hike is appropriate for you. For more information, as well as a downloadable park map/brochure, visit http://www.oregonstateparks.org/park_51.php
We should be finished with our exploration by mid to late afternoon. We'll stop either in Terrebonne or back closer to Portland (Zigzag maybe) for a well-deserved dinner on the way back. We should be back to Portland no later than 8pm on Sunday, but as always I can never guarantee it. If you really need to be back by a specific time, please don't sign up!
MORE DETAILS (please read them!)
My hiking style: I'm a pretty tireless hiker, but I like pausing for photos, viewpoints, and/or snack breaks whenever the scenery demands it. To me outings are more about enjoying your surroundings than reaching the 'finish line' at any set time or pace, although I do in general keep a moderate to quick pace (2-2.5 mph) when we're on the move. (With that said, if you're wanting full-speed-ahead hikes without pauses, this isn't your event.) I like keeping the group somewhat 'together' on the trail and not leaving anyone behind. Most of all, I want it to be an enjoyable day out for everyone!
Total driving distance for the weekend: roughly 300 miles
Costs: Suggested $25 per person to driver for gas (may vary depending on each car's gas mileage), $5 camping fee per person and $10 in parking fees for each car.
What to bring: enough layers for 2 mild days and 1 cold night; sunscreen; hat (for shade; there aren't a lot of trees); gaiters (could be handy at Smith Rock to keep rocks out of your shoes); tent, a warm sleeping bag (it can get quite cold in the desert at night, especially in early April), sleeping mat for padding, trekking poles; headlamp and spare batteries; sunglasses; camera; enough water and food for 2 lunches, 1 breakfast, & 1 dinner, plus snacks for the trail; sturdy hiking boots or shoes. Always bring a waterproof layer just in case. Leave the cotton at home. (If some people prefer to eat Saturday's dinner in a restaurant rather than in camp, that option exists: there's an excellent place about 10 minutes drive away in Terrebonne.) Once we know who's going we can discuss details further, but if you have a portable stove or a water filter/purifier, please bring them along.
NOTE: This is the desert, and rattlesnakes live here as well. No need to be paranoid about it; just be aware and alert. I've seen snakes--including rattlers--at Smith Rock before, and we may well see them again. Give them space and respect and there should be plenty of room for all of us!
Sorry, no dogs...
THE FINE PRINT:
- There's a manual waiting list for this event, meaning that when someone on the YES list drops out, everyone waitlisted gets an email noting that there's a spot open. First one to the open spot gets it.
- As a Meetup organizer, I'm an unpaid volunteer. While I always try to ensure a safe and enjoyable outing for everyone, by signing up for this event you assume full responsibility for your own health, safety, and well-being for its entire duration, including while traveling to and from both the meeting place and destination.
- I absolutely welcome and encourage other NW Wilderness Organizers to sign up for and join my events; it's always great to have you guys along. I do, however, reserve the right to move you to the Waiting List if I decide to move qualified and Waitlisted non-organizers to the YES list.