First up, Denny Creek!
Denny Creek is a trail up in Snoqualmie Pass, Washington. We were part of a large hiking crew organized as a party hike for my friend's wedding. As a large obnoxious group we did a relatively mild, medium length hike up to a waterfall on Denny Creek.
The area was beautiful, and the hike was mostly a slow upward climb along Denny Creek. We had to hop the creek at one point and I detoured upstream to grab some waterfall photos.
After climbing through a rocky landslide area, we hit our destination on top of a large waterfall, where a nice rocky cliff patio offered us plenty of room to spread out and explore. After heading back home, it ended up being roughly 5 miles.
Four County Point
Four County Point is a very short trail directly off US-26 westbound heading towards the coast. As part of a longer day I finally made a stop to check out this short trail. It is about a mile long trek into the woods to a plaque that is laid down at the exact spot where 4 counties meet, a much smaller scale version of 4 corners in the American southwest. The northwestern counties of Oregon meet at this point and you can stand in all 4 at once.
I wasn't expecting much out of the trail outside a cute detour to a neat spot and it managed to be even more disappointing than that. The trail immediately plunges towards coal creek and then follows along to the west. For the first half mile you can hear the highway loudly above you. You can also hear gunshots from the nearby redneck gun range, loudly blasting assault rifle sounds, because this country is gross.
The trail has occasional little diversions to the creek, which is cute enough. Finally, after 15 minutes of flat walking through the woods worrying I'd be hit by a stray bullet, I came across a laughably small clearing maybe big enough for a small tent, with a small log bench next to a little rectangular plaque on the ground indicating the spot. It's so honestly pathetic that such a neat little marker is just tucked into nowhere.
It was about 2 miles total walking and almost no elevation gain. You can skip this hike unless you have an hour to kill and are a completionist.
One of the first hikes I ever did on the coast was this little gem from Ecola State Park. From Ecola, through Indian Beach, you can climb up the trail to an old WWII bunker, campsite, and overlook towards the island lighthouse. It's an easy must-do if you end up in the park and want something fun.
There is also another way to reach the bunker/overlook, and that is the harder, longer way, coming from the north at Seaside.
From Seaside beach Tillamook Head looks very dramatic and perfectly frames the southern coast. If you take the coastal road all the way to the terminus right next to some rich people beach homes, there is a small parking lot and the northern entrance to the Tillamook Head trail.
The trail starts off easy enough, climbing gently through the woods to a neat overlook on an old log that juts over a cliff. After that, the second half of the first mile then proceeds into switchback hell, switchbacking 16 times to the top. Luckily the switchbacks are a reasonable grade and some of them are merely 10 yards apart. If you can make it up this hill, the rest is smooth sailing.
The trail actually gradually descends from this point, which I wasn't happy about since I'd have to climb back up. It mostly follows the top of the cliff and occasionally offers views into the wild blue yonder. I saw very few other hikers and there is something about being a thousand feet above the coastline, looking out into the vast void of the pacific that gives me real existential dread. It reminds you of how insignificant you are. The sheer scope of the ocean doesn't hit you from beach-level. When you are alone, looking out from high above? The reality is palpable. We are nothing.
|Pictured: existential dread|
Honestly, as much as it gives you an existential crisis, it's nice to break from the bubble of yourself once in a while and put everything into perspective. It's one of the reasons I enjoy being alone on the coast, and being alone in the woods in general. There's a certain freedom of self when you know you are meaningless.
The trail is pretty muddy even in late dry August, and has a lot of wooden steps built into it to make things easier. The trail is honestly a very nice walk once you are done with the climbing, and I had a very nice time. After a short but steep switchback descent down a hill, I arrived at the camp and the overlook. I took in the views and headed home.
Overall it was a bit less than 8 miles, and maybe 1700ft of elevation gain. Most of that comes in the first mile, and the rest is slow rolling hills and the gentle climb back. It wasn't that hard at all, and offered a very nice alternative to the crowded and busy Ecola version.