Big Slide Lake


View from the forest service road…not too bad

So this past weekend Steve, the pups and I went on our first backpacking trip of the season. We usually get started with our backpacking season earlier in the year, but this spring we went on a trip to Nicaragua and then we had the moms in town. Needless to say we were pretty pumped to be taking the weekend off to head up to the Bull of the Woods Wilderness. I think this is only the second hike I have ever done in Bull of the Woods, so it was nice to explore it a bit more. We took the Dickey Creek trail all the way up to Big Slide Lake where we camped for the night.

Quick Stats

Distance: 12 miles

Time: 4 hours each way

Difficulty: difficult, pretty steep in parts with loose rock, many logs to climb over, and a fun creek crossing

Permit: Yes, NW Wilderness Pass, get it ahead of time because there isn’t a pay station at the trailhead

Dog friendly: Yes, plenty of shade and creeks for cooling off in…and of course there is the lake too

Pros: Beautiful mossy forest, pretty lake and creek, trail wasn’t busy, wildflowers and rhododendrons,

Cons: steep and loose trail in spots, all uphill on day one and all downhill on day two, crowded weekend camping at the lake, people didn’t bury their poo


Our destination for the night…wasn’t quite warm enough for swimming.

It took us about three hours to drive to the Dickey Creek Trailhead from Bend. Our google directions had us take about an hours worth of gravel roads, which we didn’t really need to do, but it added to the sense of adventure, so why not? It took us the same amount of time to get home when we took mostly paved roads.


Steve…trying to look outdoorsy..or contemplative… I’m not sure

The Dickey Creek trail begins harmlessly enough as it follows an old forest road, but don’t be fooled. You will have multiple opportunities to fall on your ass as the trail steeply descends into the valley. Have fun with it! I didn’t! It took me 20 minutes to get down the first steep section because I was being stubborn and didn’t want to get out my trekking poles…. I ended up borrowing Steve’s for this section. Advice: Pack your poles and use them. Other people camping at the lake commented multiple times that they wish they had brought theirs.

Thankfully, after the trail makes its initial descent into the valley via slippery slopes and some massive steps it becomes a beautiful hike through moss covered forest as it gently meanders by massive trees and over a few logs.


Where’s Waldo? I mean Steve?

Dickey Creek is absolutely gorgeous at the creek crossing. Make sure to cross on the logs, it’s way easier than crossing on the mostly slippery rocks. I tried both… because I’m a glutton for punishment. I had my Tevas with me so I kicked off my boots and slipped into my Tevas for the first creek crossing and just walked straight across. I thought the water felt amazing, Steve thought it was frigid.


Dickey Creek at the Creek Crossing.

After the creek crossing the trail climbs up and up and up with no relief. I happen to enjoy uphill way more than the downhill slip and slide, but when you go up you must go down too. Eventually the trail splits (at a Y); veer right at the Y and head downhill to the lake and another easy creek crossing.

Blue skies

Blue skies

The lake is beautiful. It’s supposedly a great place for fishing, although we didn’t see any trout. We did see a ton of Salamanders swimming around though.


Good morning!!!

I bet the water in the lake gets pretty warm during the summer. It looked pretty shallow all around….next time I’m packing a pool floaty.


June wildflowers along the trail.

And the wildflowers. I love all the wildflowers this time of year. I’m not a flower buff and I don’t know the official names, but I do appreciate the beautiful color.


Sal hunting for salamanders….

So that’s Sal in picture above. He is our SUPER hyper-active pup, who’s not actually a pup anymore. He’s always game to play, whether it’s frisbee, ball, fetch, hunt for salamanders, jumping, climbing, acrobats, or rolling in nasty things. He has more energy than any other dog I’ve ever met.

Like I said in the Cons for this trail, most of the sites were already taken when we arrived at the lake. The only two sites that were still available were wedged between a group with two “dog aggressive” dogs and a group with a little girl, aged about 7, the type that Sal likes to eat for dinner. SO needless to say our sites were perfect (note sarcasm)!!!!

The first site was slightly more private, but as we were unpacking our backpacks Wonder Dog (Sal) found a lovely pile of unburied human feces and anointed himself with human shit; all over his face, neck, back, collar and harness. So we packed up and moved over to the tiniest site I’ve ever camped in…. but atleast it was further away from Sal’s poo fest. People please bury your feces…and don’t poo 15 feet outside of camp. I mean really???? I do not like having to bury other people’s poo and I’m pretty sure Steve didn’t enjoy washing someone else’s shit off of Sal.


indian paintbrush…. that’s probably not its real name

After cleaning up and setting up our micro-site we rewarded ourselves with some cabernet, thank god we packed it…. and it was well deserved. Neither of us lost our tempers… and we had a good laugh after the fact. I really wanted to call this hike Fecal Matters, but Steve vetoed it.


Wild rhododendrons blooming.

After Sal went for his morning swim we hit the trail. The morning air was nice and crisp and it was the perfect hiking temperature. Parts of the trail reminded me of the hike up to Snow Lake on the way into the Enchantments, but obviously on a much smaller scale.


Many big slides…. I wonder how the lake got its name.


Parts of this trail reminded me of the Enchantments in Washington. (I think Sal is mean mugging me)

Sal loves to hike right on our heels, while Jedi is off in Jedi land with rainbows, glitter, and unicorns…. that’s why you don’t see any pics of him here.


Deep green forest.

The trail in the woods was really lovely, super soft for walking, not too many roots/rocks, BUT you do have to climb over probably 20 down trees along the trail…it’s a fantastic core workout!!!


Day on the trail.

We will definitely head back to the Bull of the Woods Wilderness. It was really pretty and felt incredibly remote. I kept hoping to see a bear or other wildlife, but no luck.


60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland: Including the Coast, Mount Hood, St. Helens, and the Santiam River

Summit Post

Portland Hikers


White River Snowshoe

white river west sno-park mt hood

Mt. Hood from the White River West Sno-Park

Instead of baking all Christmas Eve day, Steve, our friend Angie and I decided to head up to the mountain for some winter fun and I was only minimally harassed when I showed up to Christmas Eve dinner without pumpkin cheesecake. We were on a bit of a time crunch, so we decided on the White River trail because of it’s accessibility, shortness of the hike, and killer views of Mt. Hood. Apparently everyone else had the same idea because the Sno-Park was packed with families and their furry friends sledding, snowshoeing and cross country skiing. There was also a mountain rescue going on the same day because three people had gotten lost while snowshoeing to a cabin two days prior. The group was thankfully found before the day was over.

Quick Stats

Distance: 3 miles roundtrip to the power lines; longer options abound (we hiked about a 1/2 mile passed the power lines and had a beautiful view of Mt. Hood and the Meadows chair lift)

Time: 2 hours

Difficulty: Easy-moderate to the power lines (beginning elevation ~4200 feet) on ungroomed trails

Season: December-March

Dog Friendly: yes, in fact our dogs got spoiled with attention and were complimented for being so well behaved :)

Pros: great views of Mt. Hood; relatively easy; tons of sledding hills

Cons: busy, busy, busy

white river mt hood

The view from the parking lot was beautiful too

From the parking lot you follow the masses along a road/path along the river and passed several sledding hills, one of which you actually hike up…and would be a total pain on cross country skis. This sledding hill is really the most difficult part of the snowshoe and you probably won’t even notice yourself huffing and puffing as you watch all of the tubers flying by.

white river sledding

The sledding hill and most challenging part of the snowshoe.

Continue along, either on the trail or off, if you prefer, until you reach the power lines that power Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort. If you turn around at the power lines you will have completed about a 3 mile roundtrip. For more fun, continue further up the hill toward the mountain…you will be rewarded with amazing views of Mount Hood.

white river autumn and steve

Stopping for a break and a photo.

On the way down Angie decided to give Sal a great big hug…so we took another picture.

white river angie and sal


The parking lot was still very full with families out having Christmas Eve fun and with the volunteers, medical teams, and sheriffs department that were out looking for the lost snowshoers. Just makes you realize how important it is to be prepared and to pack the 10 Essentials.

white river rescue

Portland Mountain Rescue, new trucks and the “entire” Hood River Sheriffs department were all still on the mountain when we were heading out.

We really can’t wait till we get to go snowshoeing again…hopefully it will be sooner rather than later.

A note about snowshoes: Steve and I have both been using the MSR Evo Snow Shoes
and they rock. They get awesome traction and just the right amount of “float” and they even have “tails” that you can add on if you need some extra lift. Bottom line…they rock and they aren’t nearly as expensive as some of the others. We also added a couple extra strap bindings to ours, so now they are super secure and never come undone. If you just want to try out snowshoeing rentals are usually super cheap…usually about ten bucks a day.

Don’t forget your Sno-Park pass!!!


Directions and Sno Park info


Five Mile Butte Fire Lookout Snowshoe

five mile butte lookout

The lookout was super cozy and we loved having a wood stove….

Activity: Snowshoe or cross country ski

Distance: 6 miles roundtrip

Time: couple of hours each way

Difficulty: moderate

Season: December to April (booking season is a little longer)

Dog Friendly: Yes, the fire lookout is exposed and the stairs are steep…Jedi cried the first couple of times going up and down the stairs…so we had to drag and/or carry him. Eventually he got it.

Pros: You’re out in the middle of nowhere, snowshoeing, sledding, wood stove, 1 bed + 1 cot, some utensils provided, firewood provided, easy to navigate to

Cons: No electricity, no running water, going out to the vault toilet when it’s below freezing, shorter season due to lower elevation

mountains peeking through the clouds

A couple mountains peaking through the clouds on the road up to Five Mile Butte fire lookout.

To get to the fire lookout it’s a 3 mile hike along a road that begins across from the Billy Bob Sno-Park. The lookout sits at 4,627 feet and when it’s not cloudy there are some great mountain and forest views along the way.

five mile butte break

Taking a break on the road up to the fire lookout.

As the hike is a solid three mile uphill trek we stopped for a couple of breaks along the way. In early December, when we went, there wasn’t a ton of snow, but it was definitely icy and we were happy we brought our Black Diamond Trekking Poles and MSR Snowshoes.

five mile butte access road

View of the access road from the lookout.

We made it!!! The lookout sits about 40 feet off the ground and has some pretty steep and narrow stairs. We were happy to have the wood stove because the temperature was dropping fast and we wanted to melt some snow to make warm drinks. My Sorel Pac Boots boots were super comfy and warm….no cold toes for me.

frozen tree at five mile butte lookout

Pretty frozen tree reminds me of the holidays

We spent most of the evening reading over the old guestbooks, chatting, and drinking spiked apple cider and hot cocoa. The lookout stayed toasty all night long and we all slept great.

five mile butte sledding

We found a beat up plastic sled in the wood shelter and took advantage of the icy conditions.

We found a sled in the wood shed and had to get a couple of good runs in before we headed out for the day. The dogs were a little freaked out by it…but we had a great time!!!

five mile butte sledding steve

Super slick sledding….thank goodness for the sports setting on my camera!!!


Jedi rocking his ice beard after our hike back down from the lookout.

Back at the Sno-Park we finished off the last of our hot chocolate…that was still piping hot after all of our sledding and the hike out. The dogs stayed toasty with their packs layered over their winter jackets and were rewarded for all of their hard work with some treats when we got back to the car.