Washington Park Urban Hike

I am so happy my brother David gifted me this book for Christmas: Portland Hill Walks by Laura Foster. I’ve never tried an urban hike before and it turns out they’re pretty cool. You learn new things about a city you’ve lived in your whole life and¬†get a great workout. My mom joined me on walk #7 in Laura’s book- Washington Park and Arlington Heights Loop for a total of 4.7 miles. We started at 24th and Burnside.


I was worried that the book would be hard to follow, but there is so much detail you never question your path. The book reads like a long narrative with the directions and history entwined so I’m glad I read ahead and marked all the specific directions with a pencil. It made it easier to follow on the go. This particular walk had a lot of stairs.



We climbed the first set of stairs to Washington Way. This lead to the Holocaust Memorial I never knew existed. It was extremely moving to read the various quotes from survivors and see the scattered statues of left behind items.




From there the walk took us through the Arlington Heights neighborhood past beautiful old homes. The roads climbed steep and we saw amazing views of the city. Kingston Avenue took us up to the Rose Gardens and to one of the citys’ reservoirs.

We looped through more neighborhoods and crossed the Vista Bridge to Vista Avenue where my Grandma Joy grew up. My mom told me my Grandpa John used to take two street cars to see her when they were dating. ūüôā

The end of our walk took us back through Washington Park. We found a statue of Sacajawea built in 1905 by Alice Cooper. I loved what the book told about this statue. It was paid for by women, built by a woman, and when it was unveiled Susan B. Anthony was there.


In the same area as the statue was Cupid’s Fountain which used to be a watering hole for horses after pulling buggies up the hill; built in 1891.


This was our last stop before we meandered back through the forest to the car.


Can’t wait to try another Urban hike!!




Vernonia Lake and Old Mill

My cousin Bethany and I originally wanted to visit the Banks-Vernonia trail, but it was closed due to bad weather and cougar sightings… no thanks. So instead we drove through Vernonia to walk around the lake and check out the old mill.


It’s a mile¬†walk around the lake and there is a dock for fishing.


This fuel bunker is the last remnant of the Old Mill of the Oregon-American Lumber Company which operated from 1924 to the mid 1950’s. It’s quiet and peaceful on the inside and there is a lot of colorful graffiti.


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How to get there:

From Portland, travel on Hwy 26 west for 25 or so miles. Turn right on Hwy 47 North towards Vernonia 14 miles away. Turn right on bridge street and drive through Vernonia for 1.1 miles. Turn right to the parking lot at Vernonia lake. The old mill is off to the right and easy to find from the trail.



Witch’s House – Forest Park

What better way to spend Christmas Eve morning than exploring the supposedly haunted witch’s house in forest park.¬†ūüėȬ†This was the perfect 3 mile jaunt and slightly spooky since we set out just before sunrise.

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We started at the Lower Macleay trailhead on NW 30th and Upshur. It took three quarters of a mile to reach the witch house where the lower macleay trail connects with the wildwood trail.



The History:

In 1850 Danford Balch owned the land here and lived in a house with his wife Mary Jane and 9 children. He hired Mortimer Stump to help him clear the land and live with his family. After some time Mortimer fell in love with Danford’s 15 year old daughter Anna¬†and proposed marriage. The parents disapproved, so the couple ran off to elope. When Danford saw Mortimer next he shot and killed him. Danford was arrested and hanged; which was the first legal hanging in the Oregon territory.

In 1897 Donald Macleay gave the land to the City of Portland.

The original Balch house is no longer there, but the stone structure known as the Witch House or Witch’s Castle was built in the 1950’s as a public restroom and ranger station. It has since been abandoned.

witch house

The recent wind storms in Portland did some damage.

hammy at witch house

Hamilton peeked in for a closer look.

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We continued down the Wildwood trail to Holman Lane and came upon a meadow. Any hike that leads to a meadow is fine by me.


Then we made our way back to the trailhead.

structure on trail

Beaver Falls


For as many times as I’ve driven through Clatskanie on Highway 30, I’ve never known there was a waterfall near there. So I enlisted my friend Erin and we set out to find it. Beaver Falls is a 48-foot falls on Beaver Creek.¬†The trail is not marked so finding this place was half the fun. If you’d like to check it out here are the directions:

About 4 miles past Rainier on Highway 30, turn right on beaver falls road. Follow the road for about 3 miles and there will be a small pull-off on the left side of the road with a gap in between the fences (pictured below). That is where the trail starts. Follow the trail to the falls, which is only about 500 feet.

**Beaver Falls Road actually used to be the old Highway 30.**

entry to falls

Since it’s been raining so heavily the last month the creek was raging, which made the falls spectacular. Unfortunately it also made it impossible to cross the creek to see the lower view and get some pictures at different angles.top of falls

Be very careful walking up to the falls as it’s a little slippery and you may experience vertigo.

bottom of falls

Hamilton decided to keep a safe distance

hammy in tree


As we were driving back towards highway 30 we noticed another falls off to the right about a mile away.

upper beaver falls

I would definitely love to return to Beaver Falls in the summer- it would be a great swimming hole!