Cottonwood Canyon exploratory hike


I'm still tired of waiting for snow, so this weekend seems like a good time to explore Oregon's newest state park, Cottonwood Canyon (SE of The Dalles).  The park, along the lower John Day River, is still under development (plus I've never been there before myself), so this will be a bit of an exploratory outing.  There are a few riverside trails now built, and I'd like to do a few miles of those, but I also want to venture off trail to see if we can get some views from some of the surrounding hills and bluffs.  I don't see this as being an incredibly difficult outing, and even the off-trail stuff will likely be optional for those who'd rather just take it easy along the river, but we'll be able to make a full day out of it without any problem, and can probably make it as challenging as we (as a group) want.  I'm guessing we'll log 12 or 13 miles total, but it could be more, could be less, depending on what we find and on how everyone feels.


Rating: Moderate (most of the official trails are along the river, but I'm planning to go off trail a bit too to get some views--and some exercise)

Elevation gain: unknown…depends on what we decide to do

Hike distance: I'm guessing 12 or 13 miles, but it could be a bit more or less

Hiking time: We'll make the most of our daylight, and I'd expect we'll be on the go for 6 or 7 hours

These links will give you more information about the park:

We'll meet at Gateway and carpool roughly 2 hours to the park, with most of the drive on I-84.  We should be on the trail around 10am.  I'm guessing we'll be out exploring 'til 4 or 5pm, then we'll head back to Portland, probably stopping for food/drink in Hood River on the way back.  We should be back in Portland by 8 or 9pm, but as always I can't 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 do pause for photos, viewpoints, and/or snack breaks whenever the scenery demands it.  My outings tend to be more about enjoying your surroundings than reaching the 'finish line' at an aggressive pace, although I tend to 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: roughly 250 miles round-trip

Costs: Suggested $20 per person to driver for gas (may vary depending on each car's gas mileage).

What to bring: a good attitude and a sense of adventure, sunscreen, 2 liters of water, snacks (and lunch) for the trail, camera, cash for your driver, and a headlamp in case dusk overtakes us before we finish.  Dress in layers (bring a waterproof layer just in case), and leave the cotton at home.  I always encourage you to have the 'ten essentials' along (see The Fine Print below). 

Sorry, no dogs…



- The 'ten essentials' to always have in your pack generally include: Map/compass (and advance understanding of where you're going!), sun protection, extra clothes, extra food, extra water, headlamp/flashlight (and spare batteries), first aid kit, matches/firestarter, knife/tools, and a whistle if you need to signal for help.  You should always be prepared in case you get separated from the rest of the group and/or have to spend a night on your own in the wilderness. 

- 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 welcome 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.

- I also reserve the right to remove anyone from my events if I'm concerned that their ability or fitness level will slow down the rest of the group.  If there is a waiting list, I may remove anyone with multiple past 'no-shows' to the 'no' list to make room for those who may be more reliable.

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  • Matt T

    And yes, after ordering that huge pizza and saving 5 slices for the future, I forgot and drove away without it... :'-(

    January 27, 2014

  • Juergen

    A welcomed change in scenery. Thanks Matt for organizing and everyone for the nice conversations.

    January 27, 2014

  • Matt T

    Thanks guys for a fun day out. Sorry about the lack of sun, but I still enjoyed meeting everyone and seeing a new corner of Oregon.

    January 26, 2014

  • Janice A.

    Sorry to bail on this one. Something is telling me my body is not up for it tomorrow :( Have fun everyone.

    January 25, 2014

    • KRIS

      Boo! Im bummed out you are not here to gossip with :(

      January 26, 2014

    • Janice A.

      I'm bummed too. I had 2 things against me and one is i kind of hurt my ankle last week again and then went running Thursday and now it hurts again. I just thought it was better to stay home and rest. I think Craig is putting something up for next weekend so lets try to get on that together.

      1 · January 26, 2014

  • KRIS

    Anxiously keeping an eye for any openings! I would really like to join this hike! :)

    January 22, 2014

    • Juergen

      Be patient, Kris. There will be dropouts tomorrow evening...

      1 · January 24, 2014

  • Matt T

    pick your forecast! looks like it will be dry, which is the most important part...

    January 23, 2014

  • Susan

    You always pick the best places Matt. Sigh, I have a class Sunday. Post lots of pics!

    1 · January 22, 2014

    • Matt T

      just always trying to do something new and different!

      January 22, 2014

  • Craig G

    I like the "Fine Print" Matt!

    January 21, 2014

    • Matt T

      so i noticed...

      2 · January 21, 2014

  • Chatchay Ramone de la M.

    I will be out on the Oregon Coast. Going solo hiking and watching the sunset over the ocean. Be safe and have fun.

    1 · January 21, 2014

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