Tag Archives: Columbia River Gorge

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

Government Cove Peninsula (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.

This is a nice quick hike with good views of the Gorge.

You can pretty much explore this area however you want. There is a paved path that takes you up to the top of the rock. You get nice views at the top and it would make a good place to eat lunch if you brought it.

   

There is also a trail that goes all the way around the base of the rock and takes you out to a point right along the Columbia.

   

We were here a bit too early for wildflowers but if you come late April through early June there will be a bunch of different types of flowers.

Distance: 2.25 miles (easy)

Elevation: 100 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Warnings: None

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.