The majority of our days spent in Portland was rainy or drizzly (not a surprise), so on the only day that clouds were the only things overhead we jumped on the motorcycle out towards Mount Hood. On the west side of the peak there is a loop that takes you through the forest, across a glacial river and on to Ramona Falls. We went there having just seen the pictures and didn’t actually know anything about the hike until we were at the trailhead, straining to read the information board that was so sun bleached and almost rotted away with rain we could barely make out the direction of the trail. It turned out to be a 7 mile loop and apparently there is a seasonal bridge put up sometime in May, and taken down in October. The bridge wasn’t up yet, but the river was low enough to hop from tree stump to rock to the opposite bank. I guess they only require hikers to pay permit fees when the bridge is up, since the fee box was locked up when we got there. We also saw only one other person on the trail, so it was obviously not yet prime hiking season.
The minute we got off the main highway and onto smaller semi-paved wilderness roads, the forest surrounding us got so much thicker and denser! While hiking there was a constant dampness in the air; instead of grass that much moisture made an inch thick carpet of moss throughout the forest. The trail was rocky, but the ground on either side was the most ‘alive’, almost luminescent green moss! Lichen grew on all the rocks and trees – it was amazing.
Walking up the mostly dry riverbed we could see mt Hood above us, snow capping that whole part of the summit visible to us. Even though the trail climbed a bit in elevation we never saw any snow other than that on the mountain… which I was grateful for since it was already quite chilly on the trail and outright cold up by the waterfall. The trail itself is really easy, if a bit longer than the usual ‘afternoon hike’; the rise in elevation is gradual, and the scenery we walked through was so captivating (beautifully captivating) that I hardly noticed how long it took to get to the falls!
From what I could make out on the trail map, there are a number of different little paths that follow the trail, including some equestrian paths; the one we took followed a little creek upstream for most of the way, with little pools and smaller falls every now and again, and a 60 foot tall cliff side about a quarter-mile before the falls. We never got any rain in the forest, though the moisture in the air made condensation in Kiernan’s magical fairy beard and both our eyelashes. 🙂
And then the trail opened up to Ramona falls… gorgeous! Mist from the falling water settled all around the last bridge, and in the clearing in front of the immense wall of water all the rocks were slick & wet. The bottom of the multi storied falls has large mound of rounded stones in various falls that deafen the falls. And rather than a central pillar of crashing water it hits the numerous boulders creating a menagerie of mini falls and trickles like a thousand water slides that all together create a web like effect where its the individual parts that really create the whole. Quite an unusual waterfalls but so gorgeous with the moss-covered stones, surrounds, and milky mist surrounding the impact area. We shuffled around until we found our respective cozy spots and just relaxed for a while – the sound of crashing water was very mellowing. With wet bums and the threat of a chilly afternoon we finally collected ourselves and did the outside of the trail loop heading back to town.