Spring is one of my favorite times to take to the trail. The snow starts to melt and rain and sunshine bring promise of new growth. Late April and early May kick off the season of wildflowers across the Pacific Northwest. In the fall issue I mentioned Dog Mountain, which is famous for its blooms. Below are three other trails within an hours drive of Portland that feature some of the best wildflowers.
Saddle Mountain State National Area – Saddle Mountain Trail
Saddle Mountain is located near Seaside and Cannon Beach, in the Tillamook forest. The hike is quite steep, note the saddle (down a canyon and then back up), but with beautiful vegetation along the way and a view at the top of the Cascade Mountain range, the beach and forest.
Location: Saddle Mountain State National Area. Parking can be a crowded sometimes so leave early. Some of the wildflowers on the trail are Tiger Lily, Daisy and Harsh Red Paintbrush.
Distance: 4.5 miles
Type: Out and back
Elevation: 1,791 ft
Notes: One of the best songs to listen to on the drive over is “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye. I would also recommend packing a yummy lunch to eat at the top of the mountain while enjoying the view.
Tryon Creek – Middle Creek, Cedar and Old Main Trial
Tryon Creek has several hikes throughout the park. Some of the specific wildflowers you may see are Trilliums, single flowers that often come in white but also grow as pink, red, yellow, purple or green. Tryon Creek is also reasonably close to Portland making it a great half day trip opportunity.
Location: Lake Oswego. The trail is moderately trafficked so it is best to head out early on weekends or on a day that there isn’t school to avoid crowds.
Distance: 2 miles
Elevation: 291 ft
Notes: “Ask” is an upbeat song by The Smiths that I would recommend listening to on the drive down.
Columbia River Gorge – Coyote Wall Trail
Coyote Wall is on the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge and is home to many camas flowers. Camas flowers emerge in early spring and range in color from light purple, white to deep blue. Also, there is a great view of the Columbia River and the Oregon side of the gorge.
Location: The Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge. Exit 64 on I-84 and then a right onto WA-14E takes you to the trail.
Distance: 6.4 miles
Elevation: 1,801 ft
Season: Fall, spring, summer
Notes: Coyote Wall allows mountain biking so be aware of that out on the trail. Two great songs to jam to through the gorge are “Roadhouse Blues” by The Doors and “Train in Vain” by The Clash.