Sun breaks through the fog at Mount Talbert on a cold December morning.

The Salmon River and a tributary during a low-snow winter.

Hiking in Silver Falls State Park in three inches of fresh snow, January 2017. Silver Falls in the snow is one of the great experiences a hiker can have.

  1. Cape Disappointment

  2. Fort Stevens State Park

  3. Gnat Creek

  4. Triple C Loop

  5. Powell Butte

  6. Mount Talbert

  7. Scouters Mountain

  8. Salmon River Trail

  9. Shellburg Falls

  10. Silver Falls State Park

December is always a chaotic time. The holidays are approaching, and with it holiday shopping, travel plans and even finals. Sometimes it’s hard to find the time to get outside. That’s why so many of the hikes presented here are located close to Portland. The three hikes in the Metro area presented here are fantastic escapes from the holiday rush, and are great when you only have a couple hours to get outside. I cherish these quick getaways, and you will too.

Speaking of escapes, there are also two hikes along the Coast near Astoria. They are here for three reasons very specific to December: First of all, US 30 to Astoria stays lower than every other highway to the Coast, and snow and ice are rare on the highway; second of all, I love visiting Astoria in December, when all the tourists are gone and I just need to get away from it all; and last but not least, December was when Lewis and Clark arrived in this area back in 1805. Both hikes near Astoria presented here have connections to the journey and winter of Lewis and Clark, and history buffs will appreciate walking in the footsteps of the Corps of Discovery. Plan a weekend trip out here around the holidays; for the best experience, reserve one of the yurts available at both Cape Disappointment and Fort Stevens State Parks.

December also features some of the worst weather of the year, and some of the shortest days. Snow is a threat almost everywhere outside the Portland metro area, and the long nights and cold mornings make it hard to get out of bed and go hiking. While you can set your watch by the predictability of the rain, we are sometimes blessed with seven to ten
days of cold, crisp and clear weather in December - these are some of my favorite times to get out and go hiking. I love packing a thermos of coffee, my camera and my down jacket, and just getting outside. It’s the best!

When traveling in December, you should always remember to keep your car packed with extra blankets, extra food and anything else you might need in case of snow, ice or car trouble. While all of the hikes offered here stay close to well-maintained highways, you should always assume nobody will come to your rescue. And if the weather outside is
truly frightful, well you should stay inside and dream of where to go hiking when the weather warms up.