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High Peaks

Day Hike: Hiking Ramona Falls

Day Hike: Hiking Ramona Falls

By Dennis McNabb, Contributing Writer

Hiking is a favorite pastime for many of us here in the Northwest. Not only is it a chance to enjoy this beautiful region of the country we live in, to commune with nature, but it’s also a fantastic way to sneak in some exercise without feeling like it’s a chore. And because trails come in all shapes and sizes, it’s something most of us can do. Certainly, there are considerations to be made. Mood, availability, and level of fitness/ability all come into play, but relatively speaking, hiking is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get the blood flowing. For those looking for the perfect day hike (late spring through early fall), one that requires a decent chunk of time and at least a moderate skill level, there are few trails in the area that are more enjoyable, diverse and rewarding than Ramona Falls.

Tucked into the west side of Mount Hood along the Upper Sandy River near Rhododendron, Ramona Falls Trail is a 7.1 mile loop that cuts through the forest, wanders past the titular falls, and at one point, even connects to the famed Pacific Crest Trail. For the average hiker, it takes a little over three hours to complete the loop. So make sure to wear appropriate footwear and take some water and snacks. In fact, like any hike, it never hurts to go prepared with emergency essentials. At the outset, you will be crossing the Sandy River over a “footbridge” made of logs. Depending on how high and fast the river is flowing, this crossing can be dangerous. Be smart, use caution, and don’t cross after a heavy rain.

But once you get past that, the rest of the trail is only moderately difficult (more due to the length than the terrain), and the diversity of the terrain alone is worth the trip. The parking area and trailhead are located in The Old Maid Sand Pit, an eerily barren, rocky, alien landscape. It’s an odd start, to be sure, but as you progress you will find other areas of the hike that are so lush and green, carpeted with moss and toadstools in such a whimsical manner, that you’ll think you wandered into the Hobbit’s shire. The crowning jewel, the falls themselves, are also a sight to behold: 120 feet tall, and almost as wide, rivulets of water spreading out and cascading over multiple crags and shelves of rock like marbles in a giant Pachinko machine.

This is a popular hike with a lot of foot traffic. It’s highly unlikely that you will be alone on the trail but it’s well worth the trip regardless. There is plenty of room under the canopy of trees for everyone to sit and enjoy the falls, but as always, be respectful of others and don’t forget to pack out everything you pack in. At the end of this one, you will likely feel it in your muscles, but you will also feel refreshed and revitalized, ready to take on the world. Bring your dogs too, provided they are on a leash!

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