Photo of Middle Lewis River Falls located in Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Lewis River Lower Falls, A 5+ Star Campground!!

What Makes Lower Falls a 5 Star Campground?

Everything!!!  I’m a member of Campendium, a site where parks are reviewed and rated on a 1-5 star basis.  My goal is to eventually go full-time RVing, and I’ve found their site to be quite helpful.  A few posts back I lamented that my beach house doesn’t fit into the tent section at Millersylvania State Park. Lower Falls Campground is the answer!  The campground has everything I could have asked for!  Well, except for a lake to go kayaking on, but I’ll take this park any day.  It is a gorgeous, green, lush campground that RVs can fit into.  The sites are huge and spaced far apart giving families the privacy they seek in a camping experience.  Campers actually feel like they’re out in the woods.  Children have plenty of space to play and won’t be quite as tempted to cross into other’s sites.  The trails are easily accessible from the campground and hikers can be down at the river to view the beautiful waterfalls in a short time.

Trailer Access

The campground was easy to drive to, however, the National Forest Service website does warn that it might be difficult for trailers to get through a short section of gravel road and that you drive at your own risk.  I called the forest service the day before to confirm the warning was still in effect and to determine whether or not we should go.  The lady I spoke to said it should be okay if we drive slow.  The mile long section of road is passible, but slow going is definitely the key.  Fortunately I drove it very late at night and couldn’t see what I was driving over.  It didn’t look so bad then!  Driving out I put the truck in 4 wheel drive; probably didn’t need it, but it made me feel better.  The other obstacle while towing a trailer is dodging the overgrown trees, even on the paved roads.  I hit a few branches on the way in, but didn’t damage anything.  On the way out I drove down the center of the road as much as possible to avoid them.

The road doesn’t look so bad in the video, but Amber’s having a difficult time holding the camera still due to the road conditions.

Trails & Waterfalls

The crown jewels of this park are the waterfalls!  They are photographic heaven!!  The only thing I didn’t bring were the right shoes to stand in the middle of the river to photograph the lower falls.  It wasn’t possible to stand in the river at the middle falls, and I didn’t see a way, other than swimming, to get across the river to put myself at a better angle for those images.  There must be some other way across, but that will have to wait for another day.  Most of the trails we hiked were easily accessible with great views of the falls and several points to stop and enjoy the surrounding areas.

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Photo of Butte Creek Upper Falls in Oregon

Butte Creek Falls, Oregon

Road to the Falls

I’ve been wanting to get out and practice using the neutral density filters more so decided to visit Butte Creek Falls. Last year I purchased “Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon” written by Adam Sawyer at Costco.  It’s a great reference for finding falls within a reasonable distance for a day outing.  We checked the directions and other information in the book against some internet sites.  Obviously some directions were better than others, but it was easy to find and we were able to drive directly to the falls.  The last 4 to 5 miles is a gravel/washboard road, however most vehicles will make it just fine.  The washboard is fairly minor compared to others I’ve experienced.  There is a section of one lane road that feels more perilous than it actually is from the driver’s perspective as it winds around and overlooks the hill.

The Trail and Falls

The hike is on a beautiful .9 mile, easy loop trail, with a couple hills, and the lush green foliage and shade were much appreciated on a hot July day.  The straight part of the trail leads to the lower falls, but we weren’t able to get to its base.  We saw some people go down the side of the rocky hill to get there, but we chose not to do that with our camera equipment.  Another family came along and opted not to go down as well.  Those who are more adventurous have the falls and pool all to themselves!

Then we took the loop trail to the upper falls which were easily accessible, and several families were playing in the water.  It wasn’t as crowded as other falls tend to be, and we were able to get the photos we wanted.  On the way out of the loop trail I saw another view of the upper falls I didn’t see going in.  I’ll have to go back and photograph it with the neutral density filter.

 

Visiting Butte Creek Falls is well worth the scenic drive through farm country and the gravel roads.  It’s about an hour from Portland depending on your starting point.  On the way out we stopped at a farm stand and purchased fresh picked blackberries and strawberries and then finished our day with strawberry shortcake for desert!

Millersylvania State Park, WA

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RV Sites

The girls and I went camping at Millersylvania State Park near Olympia, Washington last weekend.  It’s a beautiful campground that hasn’t lost its charm due to modern updating.  The campsites in the tenting area look like they’re in the original condition; although I’m sure there have been changes over the years.  The sites are heavily wooded and the roads narrow, so RVs can’t get into that section.  There is an RV loop in an open field that is not very desirable.  However, there are two rows for RVs that are under the trees. The campground was very peaceful, and our trailer was squeezed in between the trees in site 205.   All the sites in these two rows are pull-throughs, although I would be cautious about taking my 5th wheel through some of them.

Misty-Jade make breakfast burritos for us on Saturday.  Then we had the most delicious steak covered with smoked blue cheese and grilled veggies along with freshly squeezed strawberry lemonade for dinner.

I’m envious of the tenters who were able to camp in the loop pictured below.  The park also has some glamping tents in this loop available for rent.

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Tent Sites

I discovered this trail early Saturday morning while the girls were still sleeping.  I loved the romantic bridge and boardwalk section of the trail.  The boardwalk would make a great background for a photo shoot.

While kayaking on Deep Lake we saw an eagle and a crane as well as a few other critters.  We were able to get up close to the crane, but unfortunately I only had an iPhone with me.  There were several people fishing off the dock near the boat launch.

We all loved the park and have put it on our list of go-to campgrounds when we need something at the last minute for a weekend get-away.