Day Hiking Columbia River Gorge  by Craig Romano

Day Hiking Columbia River Gorge Guide Book

by Craig Romano (The Mountaineers Books)
Day Hiking Columbia River Gorge  by Craig Romano
Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2011, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is a one-of-a-kind natural treasure—and much of it is within easy driving distance for Oregon and Washington residents. The mighty Columbia forms a border between the two states and each side offers splendid experiences, from sparkling waterfalls, lush canyons, and windswept desert bluffs to Native American vision quest sites and Lewis and Clark landmarks.

© 2011 Craig Romano/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Day Hiking Columbia River Gorge" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 100.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 100.

The views from aldrich are good. So good that the U.S. Military constructed a defense post here during World War ii to watch over the Bonneville Dam below. A foundation and remnants of a gun mount are all that remains—and of course those fine views too. Survey Table Mountain, Hamilton Mountain, Tanner Butte, the greenleaf Slough, and Hamilton island from this oft-overlooked landmark in the heart of the gorge.
North Bonneville, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.6
If a celestial being were to pick a perch, this precipitous point high above the Columbia would be the perfect place. Heavenly views await all who make the trek to this weathered and fractured outcropping at the western gate of the Columbia gorge. But be forewarned—just like the gates of heaven, this post is coveted by scads of folks. At this very popular trail within the scenic area, you won’t want for company.
Multnomah Falls, OR - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.6
Perhaps the loneliest mountain accessible by trail on the Washington side of the gorge—ironic too, due to its easy access right off State Route 14 and its close proximity to Dog Mountain, one of the most popular peaks in the gorge. The views from augspurger are also sprawling and plentiful— some of the best in the gorge. Likewise for wildflowers. And you’ll get it all to yourself. So what’s the scoop? The way is long, with a lot of elevation and a section of encroaching greenery that scares people away. But the brush is ephemeral and the trail is in excellent shape—what are you waiting for?
Carson, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 13.8
The battle never occurred, but the name stuck after residents of nearby Fort Vancouver were sure a skirmish would break out between several indians who escaped from the compound and the army soldiers. This little lake was nevertheless born during an upheaval: a collapsed volcanic cone, Battle ground Lake is in essence a miniature Crater Lake. The spring-fed caldera is a popular place for local anglers, but hikers will find much to their liking in the forested trails that ring the lake.
Battleground, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.1
Follow a twisting trail of ramps and stairways to the top of the largest basaltic monolith in the northwest. Then take in breathtaking views of the Columbia River and its striking gorge from this 848-foot core of an ancient volcano. Named by Lewis and Clark in 1805, the rock was bought by wealthy engineer and amateur botanist Henry J. Biddle in 1915, and he constructed this marvel of a trail. After his death, his children gave the rock to the state for a new park in 1932.
North Bonneville, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.8
Set in a remote basin beneath the talus-sloped summit of Mount Defiance, the highest summit in the gorge, Bear Lake is one of the prettiest alpine lakes in the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness. This is an easy hike ideal for children and solitude seekers short on time or energy—bring along a book or a fishing rod to while away the afternoon.
Dee, OR - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.4
Perhaps the loneliest trail on the Oregon side of the Columbia River gorge national Scenic area, Bell Creek is an excellent choice for quiet contemplation and for admiring a forest several centuries old. Some of the biggest and oldest trees, including massive western redcedars, grace this gentle path. How they survived the ax is nothing short of remarkable— and now protected within the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness, they're free to continue their life cycles the way nature intended.
Multnomah Falls, OR - Hiking - Trail Length: 15.3
Not many hikers chime in on the virtues of Bells Mountain, namely because they’ve yet to strike out for it. But after taking this wellbuilt trail through pretty forest to a series of excellent viewpoints, they’ll soon be ringing in the virtues of this trail, one of the best kept secrets in Clark County.
Yacolt, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.5
A geographical oddity, this nearly flat, broad hulking summit is the remnant of an ancient giant lava flow. The agents of erosion have done a wonderful job over the millennia carving out its steep fluted ridges and making it appear like a giant citadel seated at the center of the gorge. Getting to Benson’s expansive flat top requires a bit of storming the castle. Several trails lead to this fortress—all of them steep. The Pacific Crest offers the easiest route—but also the longest.
Stevenson, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 16
A bulky, imposing, and nearly level peak in the heart of the Columbia River gorge, the Benson Plateau is the closest thing in western Oregon to a bona fide mesa. While views are slim from the thickly forested summit of this flat-topped peak, there are some decent vistas along the way. Find flowers, too, and native american vision quest pits. And a whole lot of elevation gain makes this hike among the gorge’s most challenging.
North Bonneville, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 11.2
A quiet and lonely trail through the heart of the 4540-acre Bourbon Roadless area, a de facto wilderness of primeval forest and clear rushing streams. The way is tough, hastily climbing a steep ridge dividing the Bourbon and Big Hollow Creek watersheds. An alternative approach to Observation Peak, this route helps you appreciate the deeply-cut valleys and formidable ridges of this wild corner of the Cascade Mountains.
Carson, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 9.2
A hidden, often overlooked waterfall, Bridal Veil Falls is the perfect destination for young hikers and, of course, cataract connoisseurs. The trail is short, making it the ideal add-on to your day after doing one of the many longer nearby hikes. And while the falls is the prime attraction here in this small state park, be sure not to skip a trip out to the interpretive loop trail perched on the bluff for good views and, in late spring, flowering camas.
Multnomah Falls, OR - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.2
There’s nothing revolutionary about this Bunker Hill, and you won’t need to battle for it either— it’ll all be yours. Named by two settlers for the famous site in Boston, this little peak stands watch above the Wind River valley and once served as a fire lookout. The tower is long gone and the trees are big, obstructing any viewing. But a little snooping around just below the summit will lead you to some ledges with a nice view south out to the gorge.
Stevenson, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.4
Soak up stunning nonstop views of river, mountain, and valley from one of the most prominent landmarks in the Columbia gorge. Thanks to a new mostly volunteerbuilt loop trail you can now round Cape Horn—gingerly strolling along precipitous ledges, languidly lolling across hilltop pastures, weaving up and over oak-cloaked basalt cliffs, and frequently pausing to admire one of the finest natural landscapes in the american West.
Multnomah Falls, OR - Hiking - Trail Length: 7
A touch of Utah in the northwest! Follow an old ranch road to a weathered corral set in a grove of oaks beneath an impressive natural arch. Then wander through pine groves and fields, returning along an open ledge that bursts with blossoms in the springtime. A Catherine Creek classic— and there’s plenty more to explore in this area if your wanderlust gets the best of you.
Mosier, OR - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.3
A spectacular area of sunny skies, legendary flower fields, and outstanding rock formations, the Catherine Creek area is one of the crown jewels of the Columbia gorge. And the Labyrinth is one of Catherine Creek’s most stunning places. As the name suggests, you’ll follow a path through a maze of basaltic rock formations. But there’s more—waterfalls, a high open grassy slope granting striking views of the Columbia, placid oak woodlands, and mysterious native american talus pits. Spring is best with its blossoms, but the area is gorgeous any time of year.
Mosier, OR - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.3
There’s no dramatic gorge here in the far-eastern reaches of the Columbia’s Oregon-Washington border flow. Between the great bend at Wallula gap and the canyon housing the John Day River, the Columbia languidly (thanks to dams) drifts through a monotonous landscape of sun-parched low-lying hills of sage, wheat, and grapevines. But this section of river is also ecologically important (and threatened), providing habitat for scores of species. Hikers need to get to know it, and thanks to this new trail they can now explore a much-overlooked region. Watch for rattle snakes.
Irrigon, OR - Hiking - Trail Length: 4
Situated north of the gorge on a high plateau above the White Salmon and klickitat Rivers at the southern base of Washington’s second-highest summit, Conboy Lake is a fascinating and little-known locale.
Laurel, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3
Follow this nearly flat trail for more than 3 miles along the Columbia River from the old river town of Washougal to the wildlife saturated sloughs of Steigerwald Lake national Wildlife Refuge. Transition from the eastern edge of Clark County’s urban sprawl to the emerald gates of the Columbia River gorge national Scenic area. En route pass historical relics and sites and through pastures granting spectacular vistas of snowy Mount Hood hovering over verdant Reed island.
Camas, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 7
A dramatic fold of sheer basalt cliffs, stately oak forests, and rolling open meadows that radiate with wildflower brilliance in the spring, the Coyote Wall howls to be hiked. Roam along the edge of the lofty wall, watching for thermal-riding raptors and nesting swallows. Amble across fields of dreamy blossoms. And scan the gorge spread out below from the golden Columbia Hills in the east to the lofty cloud-catching emerald peaks in the west.
Mosier, OR - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 6