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I'm Shay Gibson: a full-time nurse, traveler and photographer living in California. Modern Gibson Girl is a travel and lifestyle journal for modern women that want to experience the joyful things in life, and are always on the hunt for that sweet spot between quality and style.

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  • Writer's pictureModern Gibson Girl

A Perfect Day Trip from Portland

A trip to Portland is not complete without a full day of exploring the nearby nature. But there are so many amazing waterfalls and hiking trails within driving distance that it can be difficult to decide which to visit (especially if you only have one day!). So we researched and planned the absolute best itinerary for a day trip from Portland. If you are looking for a one day itinerary that includes mountains, lakes, waterfalls, hiking, flower fields, breweries, rivers, and the best photography spots near Portland, you are in the right place!!

(Outfit details linked at bottom of page.)

Trillium Lake
Trillium Lake at Sunrise



- Trillium Lake at Sunrise

- Tamanawas Falls

- Lavendar Valley

- Hood River

- Rowena Crest

- Columbia River Gorge


Trillium Lake at Sunrise

Trillium Lake

Trillium Lake

Trillium Lake
Trillium Lake at Sunrise

Visiting Trillium Lake was the highlight of our trip to Portland. It is known for it's mirror-like water, with a magnificent reflection of Mt Hood. Campsites are available, but if you're just planning a day visit, you'll want to get there at sunrise for the best views. Which means leaving Portland at least an hour and a half before. Yes, it's early; yes it's worth it. No big crowds, no noisy boats, just quiet, awe inspiring beauty. Plan to spend at least two hours here (the walk around the lake is 3.6 miles).

Travel Tip: Parking at the day use area costs $10 per vehicle. There is no attendant - you place the $10 in an envelope and rip off the receipt for you dash, so make sure to bring exact cash.

Photo Tip: To capture the perfect reflection (like the last photo), you need a longer exposure (slower shutter speed). When you use a longer exposure, you need a tripod to stabilize the camera to reduce blur. I snagged this tripod on sale an amazon and LOVE it. But any tripod will do.


Tamanawas Falls - 10am

Tamanawas Falls
Tamanawas Falls

Hiking Behind Tamanawas Falls
Hiking Behind Tamanawas Falls

Tamanawas Falls
Sitting Behind Tamanawas Falls

This is the PERFECT waterfall hike for beginners. The 3.5 mile out-and-back trail is rated moderate (mostly level with a few rock scrambles), and leads to a gorgeous 100 foot waterfall. There is no official path that leads to behind the waterfall, but you can always find a way.

Travel Tip: Parking at the trailhead requires a National Forrest Recreation Pass. you cannot buy one on site, so make sure to get it in advance! You can buy one on-line and print at home/receive via mail, or buy one at a local vendor. Find a list of local vendors by location here.

Photo Tip: To blur the water for that smooth silky look, you need a longer exposure, so the tripod comes in handy again.


Lavender Valley

Thought you had to go to France for lavender fields? Think again! This beautiful lavender field is located near the base of Mt. Hood and is just as dreamy as it looks. You can wander the fields, pay to cut your own lavender bundle, and of course take tons of dreamy photos.

Travel Tip: Entrance is only $3, and they take cash and card.


Hood River

By now you have probably worked up quite an appetite, so head to Hood River for a bite to eat. Check out pFreim Family Brewers for some food and good beer, and then cool off at Hood River Waterfront Park (perfect for kids)!


Rowena Crest

Rowena Crest Modern Gibson Girl
The View from Rowena Crest Viewpoint

Next take a quick detour to Rowena Crest Viewpoint for the most photographed road in Oregon. It's a quick 15 minute drive from Hood River, and the sharp winding road is great photography spot. You also get great views of the gorge.


Columbia River Gorge

Multanomah Falls Modern Gibson Girl
Multanomah Falls

Next, start your return to Portland along the Columbia River Gorge. Always check before your trip to determine which trails are open, but you really can't go wrong with any of the stops.

Elowah Falls is an easy 1.4 mile hike that starts at the John B Yeon Trailhead. Wahkeena Falls and Fairy Falls are both reachable from the Wahkeena Falls trailhead for a 2 mile round trip hike.

But if you're tired and don't want to hike anymore, head to Multanomah Falls. It's right off the highway and is always a favorite. The viewing bridge is beautiful (closed currently to promote social distancing), just know it may be a little underwhelming after Tamanawas Falls.


Outfit Links:

Hiking Boots - Danner Jag

White Dress - Reformation Imogen Dress (discontinued) - similar here

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