Sunday, March 4, 2018

A Much Less Terrifying Visit to Warrior Point

Last time we went to Warrior Point it was a crappy cloudy day that got legitimately scary when a wind storm rolled in on the way back and started knocking trees over next to the trail. We had to run most of the way back because branches were falling down. We didn't have much chance to enjoy it.

Yet for the next few years I kept forgetting about this place when thinking of a hike to go back to.

Well I finally remembered it. We needed something easy and close but I didn't want to go back into Forest Park. Well Warrior Point is about 20-30 minutes from our new home and the day was nice so off we went!

Warrior Point is the far northern tip of Sauvie Island. It has a lighthouse. The trailhead is at the very end of Reeder rd, past where the pavement ends, past the "clothing optional" beach. You need a 7 dollar parking permit to park at any of the recreational spots. I wouldn't chance parking without it, this is the kind of place probably eager to get whatever money they can from tourists so they'll tow you.

The trail is exceptionally flat. You won't gain or lose more than 10 feet on any "hill". The only challenge is distance, but with a trail this flat 8 miles is easy. It won't even be 8 miles, it'll be closer to 7 unless you explore a bit like we did.

The trail follows an old dirt roadbed along the beach for 3 miles. Occasional detours offer themselves off to the side, but they likely just go to little ponds or beaches. There are several beach access points where you can wander down and stick a toe in the water and admire the Columbia. If you get lucky, you might see a big tanker float by. We saw 2.

It's not terribly remarkable till you hit the lighthouse. The lone, closed, short little lighthouse sits on Warrior Rock, an outcropping of basalt thrust off the side of the soft beach. It has a nice little cove of water next to it and offers a decent view across the river. This is redneck camping territory at its finest.

Little frog we found on a tree

Little cove next to Warrior Rock

We trudged up the beach a ways trying to reach the actual Warrior Point tip, but some downed trees prevented progress. We did find a thing on a small bluff, an old foundation of some sort. Neat.

Standing on the weird foundation

We walked back to the trail then cut up the other access road through the big meadow. This road is much less trafficked. At the end, through some neat woods, is Warrior Point itself. You can see the town of St. Helens across the river. You can see the top 4th of the actual Mt. St. Helens peeking out over the eastern ridge.

Columbia Tugboat

St. Helens (The Town)

A mountain and Mt. St. Helens

St Helens

Other St. Helens


Cool clouds

3 miles of wandering straight back brought us home. We hit up Occidental Brewing and had big burgers and brews. Then we watched The Ritual on Netflix, which is a movie about hikers getting lost in the woods of Sweden with something hunting them and it was amazing and exactly the kind of horror movie I would make if I made movies.

8.35 miles
3 hours
410 feet of elevation gain

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Forest Park still has secrets

So I've had probably the most stressful 4 month stretch I've had maybe ever. Got the flu around Thanksgiving, had to deal with the passing of my Father at Christmas.Then something I'm not allowed to talk about yet happened at my day job, I had to keep up with playoff football demands, and on top of it all, we had to move. After 6 years in our cozy old building in NW Portland, we moved to the far more remote tip of the city: St. Johns. A much quieter, homey place.

After so long I finally had a chance to go exploring the new neighborhood. 15 minutes of walking takes me to Pier Park, a wonderful woodsy park full of towering fir trees and a disc golf course that makes no sense. There is also a nice bridge and a good biking path. I can tell I'll be passing through here all summer long.

But what I was most excited about is living within walking distance of the St. Johns Bridge and Cathedral Park, possibly the prettiest park in the city underneath the prettiest bridge in the city. A mile and a half from home and I'm on the other side at the base of the Ridge trail, an old Forest Park nemesis.

The Ridge Trail has one of the few good viewpoints in FP, so I went up and within a 10th of a mile found the spot, beautifully framed in the fresh snow.

The trail also climbs up a bit further then splits. The left climbs back up to the top and Firelane 7, but the right just goes back down to a different side of the bridge road. I'd never actually taken this little 10th of a mile of trail, and wouldn't you know it, it has a secret.

It also has a good view!

But at a sharp corner near the bottom, a small user path wanders off towards the gully below. But it twists around a corner and BAM, right in plain sight just off trail is a fantastic little amphitheater complete with a trickle waterfall in the middle. It's a beautiful space. The trail steeply scrambles to the bottom and then again to the top of the waterfall zone. I stood on top the falls and admired this little grotto, which I had all to myself in the snow. It was the kind of small moment you go into the woods for in the first place.

Soon we will be getting back out to real hikes, but in the meantime it's wonderful to explore a whole new area and I also predict I'll be taking all the pictures of the St. Johns Bridge.