Friday, December 25, 2015

The Ornament Trail Revisited

Two years ago, I discovered a wonderful surprise hidden deep in the forests of the Columbia River Gorge.

Hidden surprise

There's a short trail where colorful Christmas ornaments dangle from tree branches.  Bright seasonal decorations blend in with moss and ferns.  My friends and I did a bit of detective work and successfully located this place of year-round Christmas cheer.  I shared photos and stories from this trip on my blog and it became a wildly popular post (which has been getting a huge amount of hits lately.  Not sure if there's a resurgence in interest, or the Russian spammers are at it again....)

Snowy path

After our first visit to the Ornament Trail, my friends and I agreed a trek to this place should become a yearly tradition.  However, last December I was laid up with a bum foot, and hiking anywhere was out of the question.

Holiday cheer in the forest

But this December, foot now healed, I was raring to revisit this magical place (and hang a few shiny baubles of my own!)

Glittering bells

Sadly, my friends bailed on the hike - they wanted to wait until there was snow on the ground.  And rain was forecast for the entire weekend I was planning to go.

Candy cane

I came close to staying home.  Mulling around the house until late morning, my hubby finally noted the clearing skies and encouraged me to just hop in the car and go.  He said I'd be much happier if I did.

Ornament-laden branch

So, with hubby's urging, I grabbed camera and hiking boots, deciding to take advantage of the afternoon weather window.  Although a few brief showers speckled my car on the drive, by the time I pulled into Multnomah Falls parking lot, things had dried up.

A nutcracker in the moss

It was 11:30.  With sundown around 4, I knew I had only a few short hours to hike the 8 miles to the Ornament trail and back.  No photo stops for me - the big camera got packed away in my fanny pack and I told myself it couldn't come out until I'd arrived.

Ornament selfie

I practically galloped along the paved path leading up Multnomah Falls.  Dodging crowds of tourists, I reached the top in record time.  Transitioning to the dirt of the Larch Mountain trail, I left this sea of humanity behind.  The higher I climbed, the quieter the woods became.  Which was just fine with me.

Cookie cutters add a splash of whimsy

Although the day was wet and cold, I was met with an unexpected surprise - snow and ice on the trail!  Although slippery, it was kind of fun to walk through.  Really set the mood for this holiday-inspired hike.

Red bell

Although slightly worried I wouldn't remember the exact location, an old gps waypoint led me right to the spot.  The entrance marked only by a couple of small ornaments, I was happy for the guidance.  To the untrained eye, it would've been easy to miss.

More surprises!

But once I started down this trail, the magic began!  Only a few yards from it's beginning, the forest opened up to several trees brimming with colorful Christmas decor.  Such a wonderful surprise, hidden deep in the forest!  I had a jolly time snapping photos of all the lovely decorations.

Old, weather-beaten ornament still hanging on

The Ornament Trail is located near the Trails Club Lodge.  I'm not sure the origin of this wonderful path, but I suspect it was created by club members.  The exact location is kept a secret.  Discovery is part of the fun of visiting this place.  And, as far as I know, anyone can add an ornament to the collection.

Forest jingle

Which was part of today's mission.  I carried a box of tiny colorful Christmas balls to leave dangling in the forest.  It was fun finding places to hang this new batch of decorations.  Hopefully, they'll still be attached to the trees when I visit next year.

Silver bell

After a half hour of decorating and photographing, it was time to head back.  I didn't want to be stuck in the forest after dark.  Luckily, the return trip is all downhill.  I put the pedal to the metal and made record time, arriving back at my car by 3:30.  Not only did I beat the darkness, I also barely escaped the next round of rainstorms, which hit as I drove home.

Adding a few ornaments of my own!

So glad I got out for a return visit to this wonderful trail.  I had the place to myself (unusual this time of year) and even enjoyed a bonus snowy winter landscape.

Driving home, humming Christmas carols, I realized a trip to the Ornament Trail had made me much happier. My hubby, like always, was right!

Merry Christmas to all my readers!

Sharing with:  Photo Friday


  1. Beautiful, Linda! Merry Christmas to you and yours! :)

  2. Ci love this story. One for me to keep in mind sometime when I visit the area. I was hoping you took an ornament too and glad when I read you did.

  3. PERFECT post for today! What luck to have a dusting of snow AND solitude!

    Merry Christmas to you and Roger!

  4. How perfectly special. Good job Roger.
    I wonder if they are replaced each year. Your photos make them so bright and shiny.
    Such joy to find them and it must be equally so to place them.
    Happy Christmas

  5. What a magical place! I am so glad you went! I loved seeing all the shiny ornaments! Your photos are wonderful! :)

  6. This is so cool. I'd love to do something like this around here, but I'm afraid it would be vandalized. Thanks for the photos. Merry Christmas Linda.

  7. Merry Christmas and a great new year in 2016 for you and your family, many beautiful motives and stories
    greetings Frank

  8. Merry Christmas Linda. I enjoyed this post very much. Glad you had a safe trip. Take care my friend!!

  9. Me, too... so glad you decided to go. I can see the magic through your great captures and love your contributions!
    Your images made me smile, esp the selfie.
    Hope you had a great Christmas
    and all the very best for 2016!

  10. Hello, Linda, thank God for the opening of the weather window. Russian Spammers? I love seeing the decorations along the trail, it looks magical. I am so glad you went, your photos are awesome. Belated Merry Christmas wishes for you and your family. Happy weekend!

  11. How wonderful! Someone (or maybe more than one someone) has a great idea for a way to liven up the bare trees for the holidays! :-)

  12. An interesting find!!! I wonder how it got started?

  13. What a wonderful Christmas find! Glad you shared this.

  14. Linda, I remember this hike from a couple years ago. Loved it then, and love it now! How fun that you got to add to the magic by leaving ornaments. I think this is such a magical place!

  15. I remember this trail from a couple years ago too Linda--as you know it served as inspiration for me :) SO wish it was easier to get too, but I LOVE your photos of it:) Awesome, ornament selfie by the way! Hope you had a very Merry Christmas!

  16. Always nice to find places like that and in a semi secret location.

  17. Lindo e belas fotografias.
    Um abraço e continuação de BOAS FESTAS.

  18. What a great trail. I hope you had a great Christmas!

  19. What a fun place to discover, especially on Christmas Day. I hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas!

  20. How cool! What a great tradition. I'm so glad you were able to find it again.

  21. I'm glad Roger encouraged you to go!

  22. What a fun discovery! It makes me wish I could find a trail like this in Colorado. I'd definitely add a few decorations of my own;)

  23. I love this. I live by some woods. Maybe I should start a trail like this!

  24. Oh how beautiful! I would love to have something like that here, and I love that you got to have it all to yourself.

    Thank you for sharing this with us at Photo Friday!

  25. what a wonderful find! thanks so much for sharing.
    i hope you had a great christmas.
    wish you all the best in 2016! :)

  26. what a neat place. everything looked so beautiful rain drenched.

  27. What a wonderful idea for a hiking trail in winter!

    Mersad Donko Photography


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