Thursday, September 17, 2015

Ramona Falls

Easing myself back into hiking, I tried to choose moderate trails for my weekend rambles.  But on a hot, early August Sunday, I needed to go someplace with shade and water.  Lovely Ramona Falls Trail, at the foot of Mt. Hood, fit the bill perfectly.

Mighty Sandy River

My long-lost hiking buddy Katie joined me for this latest adventure.  Illness and trips (Katie) and a recovering foot (me) had kept us from hiking together for nearly a year.  A long day on the trail made for a great opportunity to catch up.

Last of the fireweed

Last summer, I'd hiked this same trail on a very rainy day.  Although the weather had been uncooperative, overcast skies had made for stunning photos of the falls and drippy green forests - not to mention the lovely pink blooming rhododendrons.

However, by August of a very dry summer, things were quite different.  No more rhodies - they'd bloomed and dried up nearly two months ago.

Where to cross?

Katie and I set out from the trailhead, following the Sandy River's steep bank.  About a mile and half down the trail, we came to the designated river crossing.  Last year, the Forest Service had installed a rickety bridge here to aid hikers.  But after the bridge was washed away in a freak rainstorm (sadly killing one unlucky person who happened to be on it) it never was replaced. 

Katie finds the crossing log

So now where did hikers cross?  Katie and I walked up and down the bank, scoping out the many bleached logs laying across the river.  Our options didn't look great.  But then I spied a large amount of footprints in the sandy soil, all leading to one large tree trunk.  It appeared that was what everyone was using to cross.  Slowly edging my way on top, I realized the tree was stable and getting across was a snap.  As I always say, river crossings always look much worse than they really are.

Rocks define the trail

Safely on the opposite shore, I headed off to find the trail continuation.  But Katie and I must've took a wrong turn, because it was nowhere to be found.  After crashing around in the brush for several anxious minutes, I noticed a line of rocks outlining what appeared to be a path.  Guess what?  That was our trail!  In no time at all, we were back in business.

Thick, green forest

Beyond the Sandy River Crossing, hikers reach a junction with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).  Here one has a choice - either to follow the PCT along the Sandy River to Ramona Falls, or take the scenic Ramona Falls trail to the same destination.  Or you can explore both trails in a loop.  Katie and I chose to follow the PCT first.

Ultra runners at the falls

The PCT climbs ever so slightly the entire 2 mile distance to Ramona Falls.  Usually not an issue, but on a hot day, even a gentle climb turns into a sweatfest.  My friend and I trudged along, wiping our brows, until the sign for Ramona Falls came into view.

Ramona Falls in all  her glory

The best thing about waterfall hikes on a hot day is that the temperature is always about ten degrees cooler at the falls themselves.  Approaching Ramona Falls, the chilly air felt heavenly.  And the waterfall wasn't too shabby either!

Katie gets goofy (can you guess her favorite color?)

Just before we reached the falls proper, Katie and I ran into a large group of trail runners.  A couple of the group members told us they were part of an ultrarunning "camp" which had started from Timberline Lodge that morning and run all the way down to here (which is quite a long distance, and elevation loss!)

Lots of gorgeous tiers

There was probably about twenty folks in the group gathered at the waterfall's base.  A spirited bunch of ultra-fit people, when they lined up on the adjacent bridge for pictures, I offered to snap the shutter.  I got handed about six cell phones!  But I love taking pics of people and was happy to oblige.

One large tree!

After bidding our new runner friends goodbye, I got out my tripod and prowled around Ramona Falls for a good fifteen minutes, trying for that money shot.  Katie ate a snack, and shivered in the cool air, dropping hints that she was ready to move on.

Magical cedar forest

So move on we did, choosing the delightful Ramona Falls Trail for our return.  This path follows lovely little Ramona Creek through a fantastic old growth forest of firs, hemlocks, and cedar trees.  Ferns and mossy creek banks add a magical feel to the woods.

Cute little Ramona Creek

Lots to photograph - I had to make my images quick, and hustle to keep up with Katie.

Rocky cliffs

We passed by an area of the forest where the trees parted to reveal a tall cliff of light colored rock.

The PCT!

After nearly two magical miles,our trail again intersected with the PCT.

Heading back along the PCT

Which we followed back to the Sandy River crossing.

Mt. Hood comes out for a visit
But not before crossing through the confusing trail area again.  This time we didn't get lost though!  The forest parted enough that we could see Mt. Hood peeking out from behind the cloudy skies.  The hot summer has taken a toll on the mountain, as she was looking mighty gray and barren.  Not much snow left up there.

Back across the Sandy River

By the return trip, we were pros at crossing the mighty Sandy River, and Katie practically galloped across the big log.

Riverbank colors

But the best part of the day for Katie was yet to come.  A horse enthusiast since her childhood, we came upon a young lady riding a gorgeous brown horse.  Katie just had to stop and meet her!  She spent nearly fifteen minutes petting and talking to her new equestrian friend.

Katie makes a friend

Another great hike in the books for summer 2015.  And good to catch up with one of my hiking buddies.

Stats:  7 miles, 1000 feet elevation gain

Note to my readers:  I'm leaving tomorrow for a fun adventure and won't have access to a computer for several days, so I won't be able to visit your blogs.  But no worries, I'll be back - and I can't wait to share my photos and stories with you.


  1. Fun looking hike and trees to climb over as well. Must have been some flash flood to leave that lot behind

  2. Looks like it was a fun, though warm, hike. Glad you found a way to cross the river, and find the trail again on the other side. Loved the falls!
    Great post, with wonderful images.

  3. Another beautiful walk. I imagine the falls are really impressive with melt water or heavy rain. They are good in a dry spell.

  4. I remember that rainy post. At least the waterfall looked more spectacular after the rain.

  5. Hello Linda, this was a great hike and a beautiful waterfalls. I am not too sure I would want to walk across that tree, I really am a chicken. I love the gorgeous views of the forest, moss, creek and Mt Hood! Awesome photos. Thanks for sharing your hike! I hope you enjoy your adventure! Happy weekend!

  6. Linda, looks a little risky to me. I'm not a hiker, but definitely admire those who can get back in the woods for those wonderful pictures!

  7. Another wonderful hike and waterfall!

  8. Those waterfall pictures are stunners! Have a good trip and we'll see you when you get back. :-)

  9. I really love hiking trails like these. And the waterfalls are a wonderful surprise in the middle of the forest.

    Mersad Donko Photography

  10. looks like a nice hike and you seem to have enjoyed it

  11. Gorgeous! I'm looking forward to my own visit to Mt. Hood. Also: I approve of Katie's outfit. Purple is the best.

  12. What a lovely walk, Linda! I am late today, wasn't feeling very well earlier today. Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful photos!

  13. I don't know what the opposite of an ultra runner is, but I'm it!!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  14. Nice photos. As you mention the PCT, one of the many things I didn't like about the film "Wild" was the complete lack of decent scenery throughout. I was looking forward to it as two of my friends have completed the PCT so I've seen some truly spectacular photos of the route and even your day out here eclipses any shots in the film. Didn't see much natural beauty in that film at all and it seemed to be either flashbacks of domestic issues or a film made purely for people that have not much experience outdoors as she made every single basic error possible that you can make. :o) Would you fling your boots away in the middle of nowhere if you dropped one? Didn't think so.

  15. I'm looking forward to hiking this pct section, but have been dreading that river crossing. I guess in Sept it isn't as bad. Nice waterfall.

  16. Great hike, I enjoyed your waterfall photos! How in the world does your friend hair stay so neat! Have fun on your adventure! :)

  17. Hi! It's nice hiking with your friend. Your waterfalls's photos are always very beautiful. The cedar forest's photos are also very cool. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Wow! Linda, these shots are fantastic. You captured the magical woods and falls beautifully, and lucky Katie - getting to have you photograph her in so many cool action shots and great scenery! I understand the taking photos quick and hurrying to keep/catch up part! That's how I roll.
    Enjoy your adventure! Can't wait to see where it takes you.

  19. Ramona falls hike was beautiful. Lovely falls. I like the photo with the rocky cliff photo. Have a great time away. Hurry back, okay? Take care and be safe and well, my friend!

  20. I think OR has a monopoly on pretty waterfalls and lush forest trails! It really didn't even look like a dry summer in your photos!

  21. The forest areas are beautiful, but the waterfalls are just breathtaking!

  22. thanks for taking me on a wonderful and breathtaking hike..And tell Katie that's my favorite color too and it's okay to be goofy once in a while..wink!

  23. Beautiful hike...hope your adventure over the next few days is good! Happy Trails to You!

  24. Walking over those tree trunks doesn't look easy to me. I'm a scaredy cat, but I do love these photos.

  25. I love little Ramona Creek and those falls are wonderful, but I'm not liking the river crossing! Such ancient trees and mossy banks plus the mountain views - what a great hike (if someone would take my hand across Sandy River...)!

  26. You sure have some mighty tall trees out there!

  27. You have a lot of money shots there and what a fun hike to take! You girls have too much fun!

  28. What a great hike - I absolutely love those waterfall shots!

  29. Hope you are having a great time on your adventure! LOVE the cedar forest, the waterfall and the "goofy" photo of your friend:)
    Blessings, Aimee

  30. I love your adventures...especially the rock lined path, how cool is that!

  31. What beautiful falls! I suppose our ancestors crossed rivers in much the same way.

  32. What a beautiful hike and the falls are gorgeous! Glad that you and Katie were able to be hiking buddies again. The horse is beautiful and it's easy to see how happy he made her!


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