#7 Hiking Beacon Rock in Washington State

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While vacationing in Portland, Oregon we planned a day for hiking of course. How can you go to Oregon and not enjoy the outdoors?

Just so happened my hiking buddy Maribel was with me and we also had our families going out to enjoy the trails too.

We actually came to Beacon Rock by chance. I had not even heard of this place before. But what a great find!! Thanks to Maribel’s husband who talks to everyone- including all the volunteer guides hanging out at our first stop, Multnomah Falls.

Multnomah Falls: That view never gets old

I had to make the first stop at Multnomah because I wanted to recreate my family portrait from the last time we were here as a family. I had also planned to hike to the top of the mountain to reach the top of the waterfall. We made our way around and happily took pictures and started our hike up to the top only to be stopped by a fence. I was shocked and thought Great! What are we going to do now? I was really disappointed 😔 Traveling so far and dreaming about the views from the top…

At the end of the access area

But Fernando had the whole scoop and it seemed the area was closed for restoration and construction. He had the map of all the main trails along the Columbia River Highway. I guess I should have paid better attention!

Crossing the Bridge
Views from the Bridge of Gods

Beacon Rock is just about 10 minutes down the road from Multnomah Falls, you cross The Bridge of Gods which goes across the river that separates Oregon and Washington states. That cost is $2 each way. Once across the bridge turn to the left and a few miles down there is a dirt parking lot off the side of the highway to the left. To park you pay $10 unless you have a Discover Parks Pass. We obviously do not since we are from California. But maybe look into it if you plan to go to a lot if Washington State Parks.

We had to walk and sort of hunt for the trailhead, there is a lot going on in this one small piece of highway. So Ill save you some time and let you know its on the same side as the parking area and there is a sign next to a big pine tree. The trail starts like any other; rocks, dirt and tree roots this section is shaded by pine trees. The trail moves onto a wooden bridge and it seems to be a sectioned path from there and you walk on wooden planks, pavement and dirt. It reminded me of a line at Disneyland with all of the switchbacks and metal hand rails. At a mile worth of switchbacks with the elevation gain it makes for a pretty difficult hike.

Wooden plank pathways and switchbacks
Happy Kids!

There is not a lot of shade climbing up the rock and it gets hot. But the views are amazing. There is no where else you would be able to take in the full picture of the landscape.

Starting the uphill climb

Stopped for a family pic

Views about halfway up

We finally made it to the top! Hallelujah! Straight ahead there are is a rail with a pretty flat area to rest in the shade. If you do a little climb up some rocks you can see the views for days. On our trip there were a bunch of people just hanging out with their dogs, that made it a little crowded. We got our pictures and headed down the mountain. It took us about 50 minutes to go up and back down.

Views on the way up

It was a really cool place to go! I never had known it even existed so that made it an adventure 😉

Beacon Rock! We just climbed that ✅

I say: GO!

Warning ⚠️

I would not feel comfortable bringing little kids there is a lot of chances to fall or get hurt. Disabled persons with walkers or wheelchairs or even strollers I do see how that would work either. Its some tight spaces.

What to bring:

Water

Hat/Sunscreen

$ for parking

Camera

#4 Bluff Trail at Montana de Oro

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Earlier this month I took a family girl trip to Morro Bay, California. We all take a trip annually to celebrate my grandma’s birthday and this year she chose Morro Bay. The town does have some family significance. If you haven’t heard of this place before, Morro Bay is a small seaside town on the central coast of California. It’s close to San Luis Obispo and Cambria.

While I have many childhood memories of hanging out here, sightseeing and walking the beach, and who could miss the giant round rock that is the town icon, we never really spent more than a couple of days here. I never realized the parks and beaches around the area before. I guess its true the older you get the more you appreciate.

Morro Rock from Morro Strand Beach

A Few Hours to Spare

We had a few hours one day to go off on our own and my aunt, who seems like a local expert, two of my cousins and myself went off to explore. We drove south of Morro Rock and passed the Morro Bay State Park and through the town of Los Osos on our way to the Montana de Oro State Park.

As we drove up the hill looking for a place to pull over and take a quick hike I noticed how the terrain changed from marsh to forest to seaside cliffs. There is so much to do! You can camp, walk, bike, hike, surf, kayak, play at the beach, I even saw some sand dunes. If you’re a bird watcher this is one place to see all kinds of birds. The weather was amazing!

The Hike

We found a good place to park and got out to look around and hopefully find a trail. I got some cell service since we were towards the top of the mountain and out in the open on the coastline, so I looked up the park on my All Trails app. There was a trail close to us called Bluff Trail. It was listed as easy, and about 4 miles. Since we had a range of abilities and short time that seemed like a good choice.

First we crossed the street and saw a little garden featuring native plants. Then walked back across the street to the trail head. The trail was dirt and gravelly.

The views were really beautiful. The ocean was so clear and blue green. We saw a lot of people out walking around and some biking. I would be a little nervous to bring small kids here without them being in a backpack or holding them because of the sides of the cliff being accessible and its a very long way down. There were a lot of black lizards, they were scurrying all around under your feet. I almost fell because I tried not to step on one in my path. Sunscreen is a must and sunglasses too. It was only in the 70’s but the sun was hot and there was no shade.

We took lots of pictures and enjoyed the views. At the end of our loop we only did about 2.5 miles. I realized that there was a small loop and a big loop after going on the trail a ways but that was okay. Everyone wanted to head back down the hill to check out some other scenery.

I say: GO!

Altogether, this was an easy hike with beautiful ocean views and a cool beach vibe, like only the central coast has. I would recommend going later morning or afternoon so the fog has time to lift and you can see everything around you. Bring little kids only if you have them within reach of you. Bring water and a hat or sunglasses and sunscreen. It was amazing to me to be able to see all the way out to Morro Rock and see the coastline. I definitely recommend this quick jaunt if you’re in the area.

One of the Beaches

A few peanuts:

  • Montana de Oro means “Mountain of Gold” in Spanish. Named for the golden flowers all over the park in the Spring
  • The Park is over 8,000 acres
  • There is primitive camping in the park
  • There is a Visitors Center that was the Old Spooner Ranch House… looks like it hosts a couple of Peacocks
  • Park is open from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm
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Peacock at the Visitor Center

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Map of the Park

#3: Hiking at Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve

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For this hike my hiking buddy, Maribel, and I headed north just for a change of pace and a lot less traffic. We left at 6:15 on Sunday morning, grabbed some coffee at our local Starbucks and hit the road at 6:30 a.m. It had been raining the night before and it was in the 30s. Pretty chilly in my book. I was hoping at least when the sun came out it would warm up!

On our way up the 101 freeway towards Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve in Ukiah, California we talked and lost track of when to turn on the GPS. Oops! So Maribel got the map going and it seemed like we were almost there. To get to the park it takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Before we knew it the map said we arrived but we were still on the freeway. That’s not right. We kept driving and then we started seeing snow on the mountain tops and then it was on the side of the road. So much for warmer weather!

We ended up in Willits and had to turn around, we went too far. Maribel had got the address from the All Trails app. ⚠️ Warning: don’t use that address. It’s pretty easy to get to if you just follow the directions straight from the website Montgomery Woods. Getting lost seems to be our new trick 😁.

There is a hot springs place a few miles before you reach the parking lot for the trail. So you can tell when you’re almost to the park by the smell of sulphur.

We found the parking lot and parked. It’s a very small dirt lot. It does have a bathroom and you can see the creek just in the front.

The trail was still wet and muddy. There was a cute bridge to cross to start the hike. There was a steep little hill and then it flattened out to a meadow landscape with Redwoods everywhere’s. It was amazing!! I felt like I was in a fairy land. I even felt like a fairy, the trees were sooo tall. The grove of Redwood trees has this creek running through it with moss and ferns growing all around. All the colors were so beautiful and bright from the rain water.

The trail was not marked very well so it was really hard to gauge where we were once we got into the forest. It was so quiet, all you could hear was the sounds of the water in the creek and dripping off the trees, once in a while birds chirping. This was such a peaceful relaxing walk in the woods. It was needed after a hectic week. We took lots of pictures and explored. On the way back we stopped to enjoy a snack on a fallen tree. It was so awesome!

The trail is easy and I think it’s perfect for families and anyone who wants to just relax and enjoy nature. The water all around in pools and running in the creek is so clear and beautiful. It definitely needs to be respected and taken care of.

I hope to go back and explore more in this hobbit village 😂.

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Ready, Set, Go!

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If you remember from my last post I decided to do a 9k trail run in May of this year. I have made up an exercise plan for myself and my readers. I hope you all subscribe I don’t want you to miss the workouts! We can do it together 😉

Please remember to ask the advice of a doctor before you start a new exercise or nutrition plan, everyone has different needs and I certainly don’t want to be the reason for an injury.

I am currently working out or being active 4 days a week and I am going to move to 6 days. Only things you need are running shoes and dumbbells. If you can I highly recommend a fitness tracker like a FitBit you can find it at Amazon for a good price. I have this one FitBit Charge 2. I started with 5lbs and now I’m at 10lbs weights. Like these: Neoprene 10 lb weights.

The first 2 weeks are here in the workout plan below. I’m cutting way back on carbs and trying to eat sugar free. Its so hard because I have to admit I have a sweet tooth. I want to aim for an hour of activity a day. I get bored so I’m trying to add in variety and make the strength training exercises somewhat my choice. Also I feel like I need to focus on my lower body strength and abs. Running in itself is a full body exercise.

You can look up plenty of different exercises but a few I recommend are:

  • Planks
  • Straight Leg Deadlifts
  • Jump Squats
  • 🐸 Jumps
  • Donkey Kicks
  • Walking Lunges
  • Weighted Bridges
  • Single Leg Bridges
  • Skaters
  • Leg Raises
  • Alternate Heel Touches
  • Russian Twist

The Weekly Plan-Weeks 1 and 2

I will start the week with “interval training”. Interval training gets your heart and lungs conditioned. You move at a max pace for 2 minutes and then bring the heart rate down for 8 minutes. Then repeat 3 times. Before you know it you’re at 30 minutes. Big cardio day.

Tuesday is an easy day! Pop onto YouTube and find a yoga video. Gaia usually has good ones just search Gaia Yoga, I recommend Rodney Yee and Tara Stiles. Try different people I sometimes jump around to find a person that I like that day. Or mix it up and grab weights and do strength training then relax with yoga stretches.

Wednesday and Thursday are the same. Run at a good pace for 30 minutes. Then 30 minutes of strength exercises. Start with 10 reps of 3 different exercises and then repeat till you get to 30 minutes.

Drum roll please!…. FRIDAY FREE DAY! You need a day of rest.

Saturday and Sunday are my favorite days to go hiking. So whether I go for a hike or a trail run I will be training. At the minimum a 2 mile run. I plan to do interval work for the first mile then steady pace the second mile. I want to do this plan for two weeks. Then move up depending how I feel. I have to listen to my body. At the same time if I don’t push myself I wont make the goal I have.

I welcome any feedback or tips on how you got ready for your first trail race😅

Don’t forget to subscribe! 📧

#1: Cataract Trail- Mount Tamalpais

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Waking up at 5:30 am is not what I want to do on a Saturday. I am just being honest. I work full time just like everyone else and I like my weekends. But my hiking buddy wanted to go on a hike for her birthday and she also had a soccer game to watch at 1 pm. Sometimes you just want to go on a hike, no matter what time you have to wake up…

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