Michael GrawExplorer

I'm a landscape and adventure photographer based out of Corvallis, Oregon. Backpacker, triathlete, and skiier - always with a camera in hand. Look for me in the mountains or online @WanderingSolePhotography.

Explorer

Explorer

about 5 years ago

Beautiful hiking and trail running!

Smith Rock is a tremendous area to hike around, even for non-climbers. It's hard to go wrong when picking a trail, since they all lead to unique views of the Crooked River or Smith Rock itself. Misery Ridge is especially awesome because of the views it provides out to the Cascades (but it is a steep trip!). All of the trails are also great for trail running, although you will want to be prepared for some steep sections getting down to the river. If you're up for a serious challenge, you can also run over Misery Ridge - just be careful on the way down since the trail is steep and covered in loose gravel. Another tip - camp for free at nearby Skull Hollow! It's a BLM area and while there is a fee campground, the main road continues into the grassland and there are tons of free campsites all along the road. You can access the area off Lone Pine Road, a couple miles from Smith Rock (and you can find it easily on Google Maps).

Explorer

Explorer

over 5 years ago

Crowded Sno-Park in Winter

I visited Trillium Lake in mid-winter, and boy was it crowded! Of course, I brought that upon myself by going on a sunny Saturday. But keep in mind that even in winter, you'll want to get to the Sno-Park early in order to get a parking space. While snow conditions are likely to change, the trail was packed down enough that snowshoes and skis weren't even necessary (but of course, they don't hurt). There is also tons of signage guiding snowshoers/skiiers on the loop trail around the lake (~5 miles total, mostly flat), so this was a very family-friendly route as far as snow adventures go.

Explorer

Explorer

over 5 years ago

Tough trail!

Everything I'd read about this hike going in made me think the road would be the worst of it. The road wasn't great, but there was only a short (~0.1 mile) section of it that was really horrendous. Any small SUV could easily take the road, although having a spare tire and a pump on hand is definitely advised. The trail itself was wild. Basically a near-vertical wall of mud and loose rocks. I fell once, thankfully not badly, but it could easily have been a very dangerous situation. I sent more than a few rock flying downhill, so definitely watch out if there is anyone below you. I also had a dog with me, which I would not advise...he made it down safely, but that was as much luck as anything else. Getting back up was not as bad, but still could have easily resulted in a dangerous slide. Be VERY careful. All that said, the falls were quite beautiful (and probably worth the effort/risk). This time in late January and early Feburary, the sun aligns just over the falls so there are some amazing light rays that shine through the trees.

Explorer

Explorer

over 5 years ago

Well worth the effort

In my opinion, this is one of the best hikes in the Three Sisters Wilderness - the summit crater is beautiful and on clear days the view from the surrounding ridgelines allows unbounded views of the entire Oregon Cascade crest. Another option for access is from the Tam MacArthur Rim trail at Three Creeks Lake Trailhead (which you can access from Sisters), although it's more like a 10-mile roundtrip hike in that case. There is a sign at the top of Tam MacArthur Rim (which also has tremendous views) indicating where the established trail ends, but the use-trail to the summit crater is much easier to follow than the route from Todd Lake.

Explorer

Explorer

over 5 years ago

Great short snowshoe!

Went over to Salt Creek Falls this past weekend in the snow! The falls look even better with snow blanketing the plunge basin, although it does make it more difficult to get down the trail to the bottom of the falls. Be sure to bring a pair of snowshoes - even on the short walk in from the Sno-Park we had to help someone who postholed up to their waist!

Explorer

Explorer

over 5 years ago

Great place for a picnic

This is really a fun hike, with great views of the Three Sisters and the entire central Oregon Cascades. Instead of a lookout tower at the summit, there a patio-like platform that makes a great spot to relax after the climb up and enjoy a picnic in the summer sunshine while taking in the view.

Explorer

Explorer

over 5 years ago

Go in winter

If you're looking to capture the Painted Hills a bit differently, try going in winter. The low-angle light and colder temperatures provide a slightly different effect, and very occasionally the hills will actually get a soft covering of snow. Also, there's less people around in winter (although it is still a popular destination).

Explorer

Explorer

over 5 years ago

One of my favorite in the gorge!

I absolutely love Latourell Falls - between its easy access, the numerous vantage points, and the colorful moss-covered basalt columns that it flows over, it's easily one of my favorite falls in the Columbia River Gorge. Only downside is that because it is so easily accessed (it's right off I-84 and only 500 feet from the parking lot) it can get very crowded on weekends.

Explorer

Explorer

over 5 years ago

Great day hike, maybe not for first-timers

This is an awesome hike with up-close views of Mount Hood. Although I haven't camped in the meadow, I plan to return (possibly as a snowshoe + winter camp) since it would be tremendous to watch the sun set over the mountain and set up a camera to shoot some star trails. The only caveat to this hike is that the Newton Creek crossing really can be a turn-off for people who aren't used to hiking. The first time I checked out this trail, I went with non-outdoorsy family members and we actually turned around at the creek (and that was when the water levels were relatively low!).

Explorer

Explorer

over 5 years ago

Awesome Eastern Gorge Viewpoint

I LOVE this viewpoint - it's probably the best in the gorge for viewing the basaltic cliffs that dominate the eastern half of the gorge. For the more intense out there, this is also the turnaround point for the Columbia River Gorge Marathon!

Explorer

Explorer

over 5 years ago

Amazing Backpack

Indian Heaven Wilderness makes for one of the best one- to two-night trips of the summer! It's almost impossible to spend as much time at every lake as each of them deserves, but on a hot day there's certainly no lack of swimming and fishing holes and places to pitch your tent and stargaze. The terrain is fairly mild as well, so it could make a good destination for a family trip or a first-time backpacker. The only thing to watch out for is mosquitoes - definitely plan your trip for early or late in the summer to avoid the worst of mosquito season!

Explorer

Explorer

over 5 years ago

Great hike for a rainy day!

If you're looking for the perfect hike for a rainy day (and there are plenty of those in the Northwest!), this is one to put on your radar! During a big rain the waterfalls are running at full capacity, so you get to see them at their most spectacular. And the opaque light of a rainy day brings out the greens in the mosses that cover everything in the park!