Fantastic Columbia Gorge Hikes
The Columbia River Gorge is home to a plethora of amazing recreational activities. However one stands out beyond all the others and that is simply the hike.The Columbia River Gorge has some of the most beautiful wonders of the world and 60% of them are at the end of a trail.
While staying in the Columbia River Gorge it is important to know exactly what you cannot afford to miss. These Scenic gorge areas are our home and we are proud to share them with the exploring tourists of the world.
We want to tell you a few of our absolute top five favorite hikes that are available nearly all year round.
#5 on our list of must do hikes is located about 12 miles west of Carson Ridge. Now I want you to keep in mind these top five are based on the amazing natural wonders that lie at the end of the trail.
Strawberry Island is located in North Bonneville Wa and although it would not seem like much from the entrance point of view the exquisite trails around this now landlocked island lead to some amazing views. Once Hamilton Island, Strawberry Island received its name from Lewis & Clark who traveled through in 1805, stating that the island was “Covered with grass interspersed with Strawberry vines”.
The Island itself has trails made out of the natural grass and wild flowers. Your choices range from a short quarter mile jaunt straight for the river or a 3-mile radius option walking you through timbers and bush. The highlight of course is when you land right above the waters of the Gorge. Taking a seat on a bench looking onto a very nostalgic setting almost like a painting. To the South you have the cascades so close it is as if you can reach out and touch them and to the north you have views of Beacon Rock and Hamilton Mountain.
This hike is especially great for a family and or pets. It is a quiet relaxing trail and depending on the path you take it is easy to moderate in its inclines. The Sunsets at this location is my main reason for making it # 5 on my list of Fantastic Hikes as they are beyond reality.
#4 is a historical must do when spending time in the Columbia River Gorge. Beacon Rock is the second largest monolith in the world, and it is the eroded core of an old volcanic neck. The 848-foot high spire is composed of light colored vesicular Andesite, and is steeply featured on all sides. The trail itself is more of a cement walkway crossing 27 bridges and contains 47 switchbacks in its mile distance. Like Strawberry Island, which can be viewed from the summit your views are spectacular as this hike ends with a360 degree view of the west end of the Columbia River Gorge.
Beacon Rock is located in the Beacon Rock state park so is extremely outfitted with everything you would need for a perfect picnic afternoon. The park in itself also contains various hikes up and down the river as well as biking and fishing options. This is a great hike for any level as the grounds are extremely functional and you can go at your own pace. I have seen couples in there 80’s and families with multiple children and strollers taking this Columbia Gorge adventure.
#3 on my list is a very unique experience, which ends with a 360 degree view of “The Ring of Fire”.That’s right a ring of 5 volcanoes (Rainier, Adams, St Helens, Hood and Jefferson) that make their home here in the Pacific Northwest.Now there are two methods that will take you to this ultimately jaw dropping location.
The Difficult path is the complete Larch Mountain Trail, which heads off at Multnomah Falls Lodge. This trail is a five hour, 4000 foot exhausting climb through old growth forests, past multiple waterfalls and various viewpoints of the Gorge. It is a total of 14.4 miles round trip with your most crowded area being at Multnomah Falls itself.
Personally the highlight of this trail is the summit that leads you to Sherrard Point (viewing the Ring of Fire). For the hiker looking for a nice brisk walk or hike through the old growth and natural settings without the grueling 14 miles this is the perfect option. From Corbett Oregon you would simply drive up Larch Mountain Rd and Park in the designated parking area and hike the 0.3 miles to the view.
#2 is a path to a canyon full of waterfalls and forest settings. This is one of the most exquisite paths, passing half a dozen waterfalls. At the end of the 4.3 mile hike you reach a 30 foot Punchbowl Falls.
Due to the fact the trail was blasted out of basalt Cliffs I would not suggest children as there are some extremely rigid areas that do not accommodate railings for the hikers convenience.
#1 and one of the most amazing natural wonders, this trail ends at a waterfall you think only could be imagined. During the Summer months the area around this waterfall has colors so green you have to see it to believe it. The mist meets you as you walk to the ledge to see the massive amounts of water plummeting to the creek base.
This trail can be taken two ways as there is a lower falls and an upper falls. Of course the upper falls trail leads you to the summit of the falls and allows you to look over as the massive water races to the bottom. This trail is moderate in difficulty and is a total of 4 miles through massive old growth. This trail progressively gets steeper as you reach for the top of the falls however there is a lot of history along which is clearly defined by the Gifford Pinchot’s information stations.
The other choice to this trail is the lighter 1.7 mile hike to the base of the falls. This does incline as you reach the falls however 70% of the trail runs along the creek and also sets you in magnificent old growth and historical spots not seen by the other trail to the summit.
These scenic wonders are just the tip of the barrel of the beauty available here in the Columbia River Gorge. Most of these hikes can also be biked on and in some cases horse back riding. Complementing the fantastic beauty is the expansive history that each location gives you. From ancient Indians to Lewis & Clark your not just getting a workout, you are getting an unforgettable experience.
For more stunning images, please visit Jim Lundgren’s website.