We began our morning at a relaxed pace. We woke up around 8am and had breakfast, packed up our camp site, and then headed off to find our first water fall of the day by 10am.
We had an easy time finding Ramona Falls. There are a lot more signs in this area of the Mount Hood National Forest. Once we got to the parking lot, we used the out houses, packed our bags full of plenty of water and snacks, and took a pre-hike photo by the trail head sign.
So far, today was off to a much better start than yesterday! But…of course we hit another road bump….
Once we got to the trail head, we read that we were supposed to have a pass. Yesterday, at Pup Creek Falls, we were able to pay five dollars and got the pass right there at the trail head. But not today. We ended up having to drive all the way back to town, about 20 minutes one way, to purchase a pass from the little corner store located right at the beginning of Lolo Road. Thankfully, we could buy one for today and one for tomorrow. We just added this to the list of things that we felt like we should have known ahead of time, but didn’t. Ohh well, we are sure learning a lot by doing on this trip!
Once we made it back with our pass, we began the 8-mile hike to Ramona Falls. Throughout the beginning, the trail followed the Sandy River. And at various times, we had great views of Mt. Hood.
We were a bit surprised at one point when instead of following alongside the river, the trail actually led us to some logs where we had to cross the river. I was the first one to attempt a crossing. I chose the higher log and scooted along it while sitting down. I was not brave enough to walk across it, nor did I want to cross the lower log that required stepping onto wet rocks and smaller logs. Once I was across, another hiker lent a hand to Nhakira and Kathy. We all made it across the logs without much trouble at all.
Next, we hiked, and snacked, and chatted, and photographed, and rehydrated, and hiked, and hiked, and hiked for what seemed like a really long time. The weather was pretty hot and we were all hoping that once we got to the falls we could splash some water on our arms to cool off. We were also pretty hungry and looking forward to eating our lunches while admiring the pretty falls.
After hiking up a hill for quite a while, we started to feel some cooler air blow towards us. And then we heard it. The sound of a rushing water fall! The closer we got, the more the temperature dropped. Once we finally arrived at the falls, we all had goose bumps! We highly recommend bringing a light layer to wear while in front of the falls. It was shockingly cool, but also very refreshing.
We ate our lunches alongside some curious squirrels and chatted with two fellow hikers. It turns out that they are from Australia! They are spending a few weeks exploring the Oregon Coast. I told them that I was preparing to leave for Australia in exactly one week. It was a very small world feeling. After chatting, we set to photographing. Due to the lighting when we arrived, it was quite challenging to get a photo of the falls where the water was not over exposed with the surrounding landscape totally blacked out. This fall is very different from Pup Creek. It is shorter, and wider with a very different geologic structure.
After capturing photos from a variety of angles, we headed down the return trail, which is not the same trail that we took to the falls. Actually, we much preferred the return trail. It followed a variety of cute little streams and was more interesting.
Once we got back to the logs, we were able to team work our way across together. It was much easier going this time, both because it was from the opposite direction and because we had already crossed it once before.
All in all, Ramona Falls was a beautiful site to see. Our biggest tip for visiting this fall is to for sure bring a layer to put on. It will make the falls much more enjoyable if you’re not shivering.
After we got back to the car, we were off to find Little Zig Zag Falls. This trail is only half a mile, so we thought it would be perfect to do it after the long 8-mile hike to Ramona Falls, since we were all pretty pooped out already. However, once again, despite having both GPS and printed instructions, we had trouble finding the proper trail head. We took a short “exploratory hike” but knew that we must be on the wrong path after hiking for 20 minutes without any falls in sight. I wasn’t too bummed though, because while driving I saw a sign for Mirror Lake. I have heard about Mirror Lake but had no idea that we were going to be driving right past its trail head. After convincing, or maybe it was more like begging, Nhakira and Kathy to hike the three-mile trail with me, we were making an impromptu, but in my opinion necessary, change in our itinerary.
The Mirror Lake trail had more elevation gain in a shorter distance than any of our other hikes. It had steep switch backs, but they were well worth it in the end. The trail led us around the edge of the lake, past tents that people had pitched along the trail in the spots that had all of the best views. Finally, we circled around the lake to the most iconic view of Mount Hood behind Mirror Lake. It was more stunning than I imagined, and I am so glad that we were able to see it in the evening with the sun shining on it. Our one tip for hiking Mirror Lake is to drench yourself in bug spray before hitting the trail, because the end of the loop around the lake is across a boardwalk over a marshy area that was thick with swarms of bugs flying in the air.
By now, we had all hiked upwards of 11 miles today and we were very ready to get to our second camp ground to relax for the evening. Lost Creek Camp Ground was back near Ramona Falls, so our driving had some overlap, but we didn’t mind having to sit for a bit. This camp ground was much larger than the one we stayed at last night and it had many families camping in it. We got camp set up even faster than we did the first night and enjoyed our burgers and s’mores once again before gladly tucking into our tent for the night.
While we once again only found one of our planned falls today, we still had a great time and I am very glad we put Little Zig Zag Falls on hold so that we could see Mirror Lake.