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Columbia River Gorge

Level Contributor
311 posts
28 reviews
Columbia River Gorge

My husband and I (upper 60s) will be spending Weds. & Thurs. in the gorge(staying in Sandy OR Tues, night and Hood River Weds. night and Enterprise Thurs. night.). I am having a hard time planning our days because, unlike a National Park, I have not been able to understand which trails would suit us. We like scenic drives and hikes of up to 5 or 6 miles that are easy or moderate. We are very happy to do trails of just a mile or two also. I am wondering which side of the gorge we should drive on(WA or OR) and thinking the WA because more trails are open there, or so I’ve been told by fellow travelers. I also do not do well on a hike that forces me close to a steep precipice or drop off.

Can anyone recommend which side we should drive on and which trails for both days? Or should we do some of each side?

I will be posting this on the OR forum as well.

Thank you for your advice.

2 replies to this topic
Seattle, Washington
Destination Expert
for Seattle
Level Contributor
7,633 posts
1. Re: Columbia River Gorge

The situation is complicated by the impact of last year's terrible fires in the Gorge. Part of the "historic" highway, which runs along the top of the gorge between Troutdale and around Cascade Locks, is closed. However, the part that's still open - about as far east as Bridal Veil Falls - has plenty of appeal. You can visit the wonderful Portland Women's Forum viewpoint - gardyloo.us/wp-content/…20100509_5a.jpg - and to the Vista House, and also to Latourell Falls, which is a superb waterfall with some decent trails nearby. gardyloo.us/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/latou…

To travel east from Latourell you'll have to "double back" around five miles on the historic highway to Corbett, where there's an on ramp to I-84 eastbound. From there it's probably 45 minutes or so to Hood River, but you can stop at Multnomah Falls (accessed for the time being from the freeway rather than the historic highway) and I'd also make sure you stop at the Bonneville fish hatchery for a visit to Herman the Sturgeon.

While fire damage has closed some hiking trails in the area, there are still plenty, on both sides of the Columbia. Use this site to see what appeals - https://gorgefriends.org/hike-the-gorge/colu…

I'd also suggest you look at hiking opportunities in the Hood River Valley, and also north of the Columbia in the Trout Lake area. And finally, if you're not already planning it, a couple of hours in Maryhill, 40 min. or so east of Hood River, will pay real dividends - visit the Maryhill Museum and nearby Stonehenge replica, strange and marvelous things out in the sagebrush.

My own preference is to stay on the Oregon side as far as Cascade Locks, then the Washington side east from there, for better views across the river at Mount Hood. But it's all good.

Map showing the locations of various places - https://goo.gl/maps/DsFvXY1rQgs

Edited: 12 June 2018, 05:38
Destination Expert
for Portland, Sunriver
Level Contributor
11,861 posts
102 reviews
2. Re: Columbia River Gorge

I agree about the places gardyloo recommends to see. However you do NOT need to double back to get back into I-84. For a while now one of the exits has reopened so after those sights you can easily hop back on 84.

The big problem with the gorge and the type of hikes you like is that there are not many. Most of the hikes to see anything has a lot of elevation due to the gorge itself.

Do take a look at Rowena which is just past Hood River. There is a short plateau hike that is very scenic that sounds like what you are looking for. Do take care to watch for rattlesnakes though. We have had them cross the trail on us here.

I’ll give more suggestions later as I’m on my phone now.

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