#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

Time to Step It Up

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For the past seven years I have done a run/walk with family or friends, whoever I could drag along with me. Signing up for an event has become a tradition for me. I use it as a motivator for myself, you know, like I have to get in shape and not embarrass myself, but also it was a way I could help motivate others. Getting everyone together and trying to make a training plan and holding each other accountable, its an awesome feeling and its honestly fun.  Its hard to believe its been so many years since my first race.

But this year I felt like I needed to step it up! Since Ive been hiking so much recently I thought it would only be fitting to do a trail run. I am starting small and only doing a 9k. But I am so excited to finally be doing a trail run!!! Its one thing that has been in the back of my mind but I always thought… nah I should just stick to what I know.

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#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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