Directions: Drive I-84 East to exit 25 and follow the road into Rooster Rock State Park.
If you are from the Portland area chances are that when you hear “Rooster Rock State Park” you automatically think “nude beach.” Turns out there is a lot more to it.
This hike starts at the East end of the parking area, across the field from the bathrooms. You will see an old wood sign and faint path to the left of it. The first hundred feet or so are covered in berry briars and other bushes, but it soon opens up to a more well maintained trail. Stay on this path until it winds down and meets with the trail that takes you to the beach.
Stay right at the junction and continue on through the marshy area until you reach the Sand Island Viewpoint. The viewpoint is a good area for lunch and bird watching (watch out for hunters though).
Continuing East along the Columbia you’ll come to a semi-steep sandy switchback about a 1/4 mile past the viewpoint. This takes you up to a grassy hill with great views of the Gorge. At the top of the hill you reenter the forest. Lots of trees are covered with ferns and the ground is covered with Horsetail Ferns. Keep your eyes peeled for Northern Pygmy Owls (we were able to spot one today).
Not too far down the trail you will come to a fork. Head right, up the hill and follow the trail back to the parking area. When you get back to your car, take an extra few minutes and head to the West end of the parking area to view Rooster Rock.
Distance: 3 miles
Elevation: 250 feet
Pet Friendly: Yes
Good For: With the nude beach so close we’re going to say this isn’t the best for kids.
Bathrooms: Yes but they are seasonal
Parking Fee: $5 entrance fee
Seasons: All but keep in mind that the nude beach is much more active during warmer months.
Overall: Lots of noise from I-84 but all of the wildlife is nice.