Tag Archives: Columbia River Gorge

Deschutes River Trail (Spring 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 east to exit 97 and take a right, and then a left to get on Highway 206E. From here you will see signs for Deschutes River Park, it’s less than a mile away. Go all the way through the park to the very end where you will see the trailhead.

Walk through the grassy field where you will have two options, going left will take you to the top and middle trail (the top trail is for hikers and bikers, middle just hikers) and going right will take you to the lower trail. We chose to go right and take the lower trail that follows along the river.

   

The trail is maintained, easy to follow, and follows right next to the Deschutes River. There are many geese in this area so there is poop everywhere and you will be hearing geese the whole time. This area was burned in the Substation Fire July of 2018, there is a lot of burned ground, trees and shrubs. We could already see new growth which was encouraging!

   

Follow along the river and pass a pump house and a cable that crosses the river. There will be a split in the trail go left uphill to get on the middle trail. Staying on the lower trail will eventually take you to a rock slide area and you have to scramble around to keep up with the trail, we did this and don’t recommend it. Back on the middle trail you will be above the river now and get nice views of the surrounding hills. You will soon come to a big bend in the river as it hooks left and you can see the rock slide below and a natural arch formation. We hiked about another half mile down the trail from the arch where you get past the bend and the river straightens out again. We made this our turn around area, head back out the way you came in. The Deschutes River Trail is a little over 11 miles one way so you could definitely extend your hike if you have the time. Stopping where we did would give you a 5 mile hike.

   

Distance: 5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 300 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the trailhead and about 1-1.5 miles in on the trail

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: On nice weekends

Warnings: Ticks and snakes

Larch Mountain Road- Snowshoe (Winter 2019)

Directions: 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 until you run into snow.

We decided with all the snow the Gorge had been getting to take a break from Hood and visit the Larch Mountain area for a snowshoe. The snow gate on Larch Mountain Road is at MP 10.2 but the road was only plowed until MP 7. So we decided to snowshoe to the gate. There was about 3 feet of snow where we parked and it was up to about 4 feet at the gate.

This wont be a very long post because not much detail needs to go into a snowshoe up a road 😜. That being said this was a very pretty snowshoe with snow covered trees and lots of peace and quiet- we only came across a few people the whole time we were out there.

   

You’ll pass a Mt. Hood National Forest sign, a few gates off to your left and right, and some road signs. It was crazy seeing the seasonal gate covered by the snow and people snowshoeing right over the top of it!

   

You can go all the way up to the top if you have the time and energy, but most people were turning around at the gate. Head back out the way you came in.

   

Distance: 6.5 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 550 feet (easy/moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Winter

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Swale Canyon- Harms Road Trailhead (Winter 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 east to exit 64, cross the Hood River Bridge ($2 toll) and take a right onto Highway 14. Drive to the town of Lyle (little over 11 miles from the bridge) where you will take a left onto the Centerville Highway. Follow the highway for about 15 miles where you will take a left onto Harms Road, follow the road a short distance to the trailhead and a small pullout for parking.

This hike is part of the Klickitat Trail- we have done a few sections already (find those posts here and here.). This time we decided to check out the Swale Canyon section.

The Harms Road section is fairly long so we just did half of it for this visit.

The hike starts out heading west as you quickly cross a bridge and get on the gravel trail. You’ll pass a small marshy area and then quickly start to see the creek off to your right. We saw a great blue heron in this area as well as many juncos.

      

Off to your left will be a large grassy area, we saw western meadowlarks and a couple northern shrikes in the trees. The trail gradually heads downhill as the basalt cliffs start to rise up around you. We noticed quite a few bones along the way as well.

      

You will cross a few bridges and the creek switches sides as you cross over another trestle bridge. In this area we saw a couple rock wrens and a red-tailed hawk. Keep going for a bit past the trestle, the trail will curve a few times- this area is about the halfway point (roughly 3 miles from the trailhead). We decided to make this our turn around for the day.

      

This trail is very quiet and it’s a great place to bird watch if you’re into that sort of thing. The Klickitat Trail is well known for ticks (in fact one of us picked up a tick on a different section of this trail) so be extra cautious and do a good tick check before you get in your car and when you get home (for more info about ticks click here).

      

Distance: 6 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 300 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: This section of the Klickitat trail closes in the summer due to high fire danger. We would recommend calling the nearest ranger station in the summer to check for specific closure dates.

Popular: No

Warnings: Ticks

Frozen Gorge (2019)

The Columbia River Gorge recently got quite a dose of winter with most places seeing at least a half foot of snow and below freezing temperatures. That means all the waterfalls get frosty and look extra beautiful. We took a drive and stopped at a few of our favorite places!

Multnomah Falls…

      

      

Latourell Falls and the Vista House…

      

We hope everyone got a chance to get out and enjoy the brief snowstorm! Winter has finally arrived ❄️

Fairy Falls (Winter 2018)

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

We were really anxious to get back up to this waterfall after the Eagle Creek Fire. It’s one of our favorite hikes in the Gorge and we really missed it.

Obviously there is fire damage visible throughout this whole hike but it’s really apparent after you get up above all the switchbacks.

First, you’ll start out on the paved path and cross over Wahkeena Creek as you switchback once to get up to Wahkeena Falls. From here the trail is still paved as you head straight up 12 switchbacks, they are fairly short but you’re definitely still feeling all the quick elevation gain. Through this section you are mainly seeing partially burned trees and more open views.

      

      

The switchbacks end at an signed intersection. It’s worth the short trip off to the right to Lemmon’s Viewpoint. When finished head back the other direction where the paved path turns into a typical dirt and rock Gorge trail. You’ll head over a footbridge and start heading uphill somewhat steeply on a very loose rocky trail, staying right next to the creek for a short distance. Normally there are a few fallen trees in this section, but since the wildfire there are a TON of downed trees and they are mostly hanging over the creek. A lot of the moss is burned in this section as well.

      

      

Cross over a second bridge and head up some more switchbacks that take you right to Fairy Falls. As you head up these last switchbacks you really get a good view back down into the creek where you can see a lot of the damage. We are happy to report that the waterfall still looks great and the bench survived the fire. Head back out the way you came in.

      

      

*Please read all the posted warning signs carefully before heading out on any of the recently reopened hikes. Trails impacted by wildfires are at higher risk for falling rocks and trees, as well as slides.*

Distance: 2.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 800 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most- there is quite a bit of elevation gain for such a short hike.

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: This trail was hit by a wildfire so please read all posted warning signs.

Wahkeena Falls (Winter 2018)

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.

Here’s another hike that has recently reopened since the Eagle Creek Fire.

There is definite noticeable fire damage on trees and it looks a lot more open in many areas. You can see a lot more of the upper tiers of the waterfall from the parking lot.

      

The trail itself is in good shape and is paved from the parking lot all the way to the upper tier. You will switchback once and there is a small area right before the waterfall that has been washed out but is still easily passable.

This is a great short hike for families with young kids, or older folks.

      

If you want to extend your hike we strongly recommend Fairy Falls. It’s a pretty little waterfall and beautiful trail.

*This trail has recently reopened after a significant wildfire. There will be posted warning and closure signs at the trailhead and along the trail itself. Please read them and follow them. Entering a closed area is not only a danger to yourself but to the people who would be coming to your aid if something went wrong.*

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: Please follow all posted warning signs.

Ponytail Falls (Autumn 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 East to the Ainsworth State Park (exit 35) and follow the Old Highway left towards Horsetail Falls.

This hike is partially open, you can hike from Horsetail Falls up to Ponytail Falls. There is a large fence blocking the trail just past Ponytail Falls.

      

As you start out on the trail just to the left of Horsetail Falls you will immediately notice fire damage. There are large rocks that have fallen, a lot of trees have been removed and limbs are across the trail. It’s definitely passable but use caution for falling debris especially if it’s been rainy and windy recently.

      

      

The trail switchbacks taking you above Horsetail Falls. There are definitely “new” views with all the tree removal but for the most part it’s pretty straight forward. Once you’re at the top you’ll round a corner and see Ponytail Falls. The trail heads downhill slightly and continues on behind the waterfall. This is where the trail ends for now at a fence. Head back out the way you came in.

      

Please respect the trail closures they are put in place for everyones safety. We saw a couple people go up and around the fence and you risk your safety, the peoples safety that would have to help you if something happens, and being ticketed.

      

Distance: .8 miles (easy)

Elevation: 400 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: This hike goes through a burn area, read all the posted warning signs before heading out.

 

Horsetail Falls (Autumn 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 East to the Ainsworth State Park (exit 35) and follow the Old Highway left towards Horsetail Falls.

Horsetail Falls is another area that recently opened up after the Eagle Creek closures.

This isn’t a hike but we thought people might be interested to see how the waterfall is doing.

There is definite visible fire damage to the trees and undergrowth around the waterfall and it’s a lot more open. Many trees have been removed and things look less green. Overall though it doesn’t look too terrible.

        

 

Angels Rest (Autumn 2018)

Directions: Take the Bridal Veil exit on I-84 East, the parking area is right when you get on the Old Highway.

By now hopefully everyone has heard that more trails have opened in the Gorge! We did this hike the day after it reopened and it was so great seeing this place again!

We got here early thinking that it would be a very popular destination and we weren’t wrong, there was one spot left in the lower parking lot at 7:30am!

Cross the highway and get on the trail, you will immediately start seeing some burned trees. We quickly noticed how much moss and vines had already grown on the trail, nature really does quickly take over! You will see lots of healthy ferns and undergrowth but there have been a lot of trees removed as well so it’s got more of an open feel in areas.

      

As you head uphill you will pass a small slide area with views of the river and come Coopey Falls off to the left. Continuing on, the trail briefly follows a creek and you cross a bridge over it. The trail steadily climbs the whole way and soon you will round a corner and see Angels Rest off in the distance. About here is where you will notice more severe burn. There are a lot of black trees, some standing and some that have fallen. It’s a lot more open and is just noticeably different.

      

Continue up the switchbacks and cross the large shale slide area. There are numerous views of the Gorge along the way. Once you are almost at the very top you will have to climb up a short narrow rocky area and it dumps you out at the top. You can really see all the burned trees from the top and you still have the absolute amazing views up and down the Gorge.

      

Yes, this trail has been badly burned, but that in no way means that there is no greenery or new growth. It looks different but is still a great hike with simply amazing views.

      

*Please read and follow all the posted warning signs.* This trail gets a lot of visitors and we always strongly urge everyone to follow the 7 Leave No Trace principles.

      

Distance: 4.6 miles (easy)

Elevation: 1,460 feet (hard)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: There is a good amount of elevation gain so this may not be best for younger kids and older folks.

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: VERY

Warnings: This area will be prone to rock fall, slides, and falling trees for some time.

Gillette Lake (Autumn 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 to Exit 44. Cross Bridge of the Gods ($2 toll). Take a left onto Highway 14 and follow it for a little over a mile. The trailhead is near Bonneville Dam on your right.

This hike starts out by climbing briefly and then it flattens out as you hike along a ridge before heading downhill again to an intersection. Go left here and continue on as the trail rollercoasters through a partially clearcut area and comes to an access road.

      

Cross the road and pick up the trail as you head down into a more wooded area for a while. Next, you’ll pop out into a large clearcut area and can see large powerlines ahead. As you hike through the clearcut you will head to the top of a hill and come to another access road. Cross this road and you will see Gillette Lake below. Depending on how the weather is (sunny, cloudy, etc) the lake will either be bright green or a darker green/blue. It was pretty cloudy and very windy so we were seeing the dark colors.

      

Follow the trail downhill and reenter the woods, take the side trail to the left where you can get right down to the lake.

Head back out the way you came in.

 

Distance: 5.8 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 650 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: There are seasonal vault toilets at the trailhead.

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes on nice weekends

Warnings: None