Category Archives: Columbia River Gorge

Memaloose Hills (Autumn 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 to exit 69. Follow Highway 30 east and in 3 miles you will see the Memaloose Overlook sign with a gravel parking lot on the left.

This is a great hike to do in the fall but we were too late for fall colors. Even without the colors this is a great “off season” hike- make sure to come on a clear day so you can see the mountains.

From the parking area cross the road a pick up the trail. You will gradually wind your way uphill on a rocky dirt trail with lots of oak trees around you. Soon the trail levels off for a short distance before you head downhill towards a small stream. After crossing the stream take the trail to the right as you hike through grass and near bushes that run a long a swampy area, off to your left is a field.

     

     

The trail starts heading uphill again in trees before opening up and giving you a view of Chatfield Hill. You will head uphill more steeply now and see lots of dead Balsamroot and get views of Mt. Hood. Once you reach the top you will have a great view of the Gorge, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Adams. Head back out the way you came in.

     

Distance: 3.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 550 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most- there are some step sections on Chatfield Hill

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: During spring wildflower bloom

Warnings: Ticks, poison oak and snakes

Larch Mountain- Sherrard Point to Multnomah Falls (Autumn 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 East to the Corbett exit and take a left on the Old Highway. Take a right onto Larch Mountain Road (there is a big sign) and follow it for 14 miles to the trailhead. If you are doing this as a shuttle first drop a car off at the Multnomah Falls parking area (see explanation below)

This hike can be done as an out and back (14+ miles) or shuttle (just over 7 miles), leaving one car at Multnomah Falls and one at the Larch Mountain Trailhead. If you do decide to do this hike as an out and back please be prepared for over  4,000 feet of elevation gain and over 14 miles, it’s a hefty hike. We chose to start at the Larch Mountain Trailhead and hike downhill to Multnomah Falls.

From the Larch Mountain Trailhead the first part of this hike is going up to Sherrard Point. If it’s a clear day make sure not to skip this section, it’s one of the best viewpoints in the Gorge. It’s a short hike on a paved path with some stairs that take you to a fenced viewpoint. You will have views of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Jefferson. It’s seriously great.

     

Once you’re done at the viewpoint head back down to the trailhead and get on the Larch Mountain trail (behind the bathrom). From here it’s all downhill, you’ll be losing about 4,000 feet total so it’s hard on the legs and easy on the lungs 😆. The first part of the trail is in a forest of skinny trees and ferns. You will enter a more heavily forested area and come to some junctions- all of the trail junctions are marked so make sure you stay on the Larch Mountain trail.

     

Next, you will enter the burn area from the Eagle Creek fire. There are lots of burned trees and downed trees (all off trail) but the trail is still very visible and easy to follow. After getting through the burn you will enter the open shale rockslide area. From here switchback downhill once and cross a footbridge. Beyond this point you will pass some seasonal waterfalls across the creek and come to a large bridge- this was recently replaced after the fire and it looks great.

     

Beyond this point you will pass by Ecola and Wisendanger Falls. This is the point where the trail will probably become more busy and get even worse as you head down to the Multnomah Falls switchbacks. Follow the marked switchbacks (there’s 11) down to Benson Bridge and then down to the parking lot.

     

This trail is well maintained and every junction is marked which is great. It’s a mix of dirt/pine needles, typical rocky Gorge and shale. There are a few log foot bridges and one large wood and metal bridge. We love doing this hike and are so glad it’s back open and looking good after the fire!

Distance: 7.5 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 4,000 feet *loss*

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most- it’s longer and can be hard on your legs

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Free at Multnomah Falls & NW Forest Pass required at Larch Mountain

Seasons: Late Spring through Fall- check for gate closures

Popular: Yes when you are around Multnomah Falls

Warnings: Part of this hike is in a burn area please read and respect all posted signage.

Wahclella Falls (Summer 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 east to exit 40 (Bonneville Dam). Take a right at the stop sign and go right at the fork where you will see the parking area.

This hike recently reopened after the Eagle Creek Fire. Like many of the recently reopened trails there was a lot of burned trees and definite trail reworking. A section of this trail is still closed so for now it’s strictly and out and back hike.

From the parking area get on the wide trail as you pass along the creek and small dam, round a corner and quickly come to a footbridge and Munra Falls. Continuing on you will soon come to a set of steep stairs and then the trail levels out a bit.

     

     

Soon you will come to what was a trail junction but the upper trail is now closed forcing you to go to the right and down a switchback to a bridge over the creek. You’re now in the rocky slide area and will start to see the waterfall off in the distance. Continue hiking through this slide area and come to another bridge and just a short distance later you will end the hike at Wahclella Falls. Head back out the way you came in.

     

     

There have already been reports of rock fall which is a normal hazard in a burn area. Please use caution while enjoying this hike.

Distance: 2 miles (easy)

Elevation: 300 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: Rock fall and slides are common for years after a wildfire.

Wahkeena Falls (Summer 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 East to exit 28. Take a left onto the Old Highway and drive for about 2.5 miles to the trailhead on your right.

This is a nice quick hike that would be good for kids or if you want to quickly show off the Gorge to out of town visitors.

From the parking area head up the few steps to a small viewpoint area of Wahkeena Creek/Lower Wahkeena Falls. After you have seen the creek get on the paved trail that takes you up one really long switchback and then flattens out for a short distance. That last part of this trail has a little damage but nothing that’s considered unsafe to hike on. The trail ends at a bridge that’s right in front of Wahkeena Falls. Head back out the way you came in.

     

The trail does continue on up 12 paved switchbacks to Lemmon’s Viewpoint. You gain a lot of elevation quickly, and add a little less than a mile to your hike. About a half mile or so past the viewpoint is Fairy Falls, both of these are great additions if you are feeling up to the challenge.

     

Distance: .5 mile (easy)

Elevation: 400 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes but they are seasonal

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

Latourell Falls (Summer 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 east to Exit 28 (Bridal Veil). Get onto the Old Highway heading right for about 2.5 miles until you reach the Latourell Falls parking area.

We decided to try this hike starting in the opposite direction doing a counterclockwise loop. Head down the paved path that quickly takes you to the lower (main) section of Latourell Falls. After taking in the waterfall continue over the footbridge and down the still paved trail that takes you into a park. Go through the park and up some stone steps where you will reach the Old Highway, carefully cross the road and pickup the trail on the other side. From here you will be heading uphill and it gets pretty steep in sections. Once at the top you will come to a small lookout with a partially obstructed view of the Columbia River. Continuing on you will briefly head downhill and then level out for a bit before coming to a switchback that takes you up to a more level section of trail. A short distance later you will reach Upper Latourell Falls.

     

To finish the loop cross the footbridge and follow the trail that is now on the other side of the creek. It’s mostly downhill,  you will cross two bridges and pass a bench with a nice view of the main waterfall. The trail ends at a viewing platform where you head down a short paved path to the parking area.

     

After doing this hike both ways we decided we definitely prefer to do it clockwise. We like saving the best waterfall for last and it’s a little easier on the legs 😉

     

Distance: 2.25 miles (easy)

Elevation: 520 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes in the parking area

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Fairy Falls (Spring 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 East to exit 28. Go left on the Historic Highway to the Wahkeena Falls Trailhead.

From the trailhead take in the lower portion of Wahkeen Falls and then head off to your right crossing a small bridge over the water and getting on a paved path that does one long switchback up to the main section of Wahkeen Falls. Continuing on you will still be on a paved trail that soon come to a series of 12 switchbacks (most are pretty short).

     

     

The switchbacks take you up to a junction, go right a short distance to Lemmon’s Viewpoint. Back at the junction go left to continue on to the waterfall, this is where the paved section of trail ends and you are on a typical dirt/rock Gorge trail. You will pass over a low footbridge and then head uphill somewhat steeply following along closely to the creek. Cross a second bridge and the trail again switchesback a few more times before you arrive at Fairy Falls. There’s a bench right at the waterfall that makes a nice place to sit and have a little rest or lunch. Head back out the way you came in.

     

This is the second time we’ve done this hike since the Eagle Creek Fire and it’s so much more green this time. We love this trail and it’s so great to see it rebounding nicely!

     

Distance: 2.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 800 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Dry Creek Falls (Spring 2019)

Directions: From I-84, take the first exit for Cascade Locks.  To avoid the parking fee at the Bridge of Gods Trailhead, go past that turnoff, and turn right onto Wasco St.  From here, go up to Moody St., and take another right.  Moody St. goes under an overpass, and you can park anywhere along here.  The trailhead is the first one on the left, as you walk up the gravel road.

The trail starts out flat for a bit and then transitions into mostly uphill, it gets somewhat steep in sections but there are flat areas along the way. Spring is a great time to hike this trail because there are a lot of flowers blooming all along the trail. This trail is easy to follow and after a little over a mile you will come to a power line clearing with a small view out to the Columbia.

     

     

Continue on and the trail becomes a lot more rocky (typical Gorge trail) as you wind your way back towards the waterfall. You will eventually come to a trail junction, go right and follow the old service road uphill as it follows along a creek. It’s just a short distance until you reach the waterfall. Head back out the way you came in.

     

Our last visit here was right after it opened back up following the Eagle Creek Fire. We’re happy to report that it’s looking a lot better- there’s a lot of new growth, flowers and things are looking green again!

     

Distance: 4.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 650 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Mosier Plateau (Spring 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 to exit 69 (Mosier). Follow the old highway into Mosier and parking in the gravel parking lot just past the totem pole on the left side of the road.

From the parking area cross the bridge and find the trail on the right side of the road near a bench. The trail starts uphill and takes you to an old pioneer cemetery. Continue on the trail where it stays mostly evenly graded and you will come to Mosier Creek Falls down in the canyon off to the right.

   

   

Continuing on you will go up a number of fairly long switchbacks and a few sets of steps. Along the switchbacks we saw bachelors button, poppy’s, balsamroot, and wild cucumber.

   

   

Once you get to the top you will have a great view of the Gorge and it’s covered in balsamroot and lupine. Head back out the way you came in.

   

Distance: 3.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 600 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: There is an outhouse by the totem pole

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes during spring wildflower season

Warnings: Ticks, poison oak, and snakes

Memaloose Hills (Spring 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 to exit 69. Follow Highway 30 east and in 3 miles you will see the Memaloose Overlook sign with a gravel parking lot on the left.

This spring has been amazing for Gorge wildflowers the blooms are the best we’ve probably ever seen!

From the parking area carefully cross the road and pick up the trail. It heads gradually uphill passing by a few homes off to the right. You will start seeing wildflowers immediately but it gets better as you go. The trail eventually levels out for a while as you wind your way back towards the hills.

   

Soon you will head down a short hill and come to a small stream that’s easy to cross. Just a short distance later the trail forks, going left/straight takes you to Marsh Hill. This hill is the less steep of the two, you get a nice view of Mt. Hood and it’s covered in wildflowers. When you are done head back down to the split in the trail. Heading off the other way takes you to Chatfield Hill. You will walk through a grassy area filled with buttercups and a bunch of cows off to the left. Soon you will start to head uphill through oak trees and just a short distance later you will come out of the trees and see Chatfild Hill. It was COVERED in balsamroot and lupine when we were here- it was amazing.

   

   

Continue following the trail as it heads up Chatfiled Hill- it does get pretty steep in areas. Once at the top of the hill you will have great views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams and the Columbia River. It’s the best out of the two hills but they are both beautiful. Head back out the way you came in.

   

Some of the many flowers you will see are balsamroot, lupine, paintbrush, buttercups, wild cucumber, and chocolate lilies.

   

Distance: 3.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 550 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most- there are some steep sections heading up each hill.

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: During spring wildflower bloom

Warnings: Ticks, poison oak and snakes

Government Cove Peninsula- Kayak (Spring 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 East to the exit just past Cascade Locks that’s marked for a weigh station. Get on Frontage Rd and continue on and cross the tracks. Park near the gate.

We’ve always just hiked around this area but decided to kayak around the coves this time.

We put the kayak in just to the left of the gate off the large rocks that line the edge of the water. We paddled out and around and passed the sailboat that is anchored near the grass. There is a large eagles nest up in the trees here which was great to see.

   

The two coves don’t connect so you will have to go out into the Columbia briefly. So continue out towards the river and go left where you can get into the second cove. It was windy and the river was pretty choppy while we were here, it was a little rough getting into the second cove but definitely doable.

   

After exploring the second cove paddle back out the way you came in. If you hike to the top of the rock on Government Cove you can see the coves where you’ll be kayaking.

There were a lot of birds (so bring binoculars!) and good views of the Gorge. It was a unique kayak and we’ll definitely be back.

Distance: 1-2 miles (easy)

Paddle: Easy (the river may be a bit choppy)

Pet Friendly: Sure if they are good in a kayak 🙂

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Warnings: None