Washington State's Table Mountain in the famous Columbia River Gorge area is only 30 miles from Portland, Oregon and four miles north of Bonneville Dam. This remarkable natural feature with a 2,400 foot drop from its south cliff is said to have been created by the famous Bonneville Landslide possibly sometime between the 1200s and the 1700s. The peak's flat and triangular top rises on the north side of the Columbia River and is shouldered by Hamilton Mountain and Greenleaf Peak.
According to an article by Richard L. Hill of the Oregonian, the Bonneville Landslide that slid south from Washington's Table Mountain covered more than five and a half square miles and created a 200 foot-high dam across the Columbia River. This dam may have enabled local tribes to cross from Oregon to Washington and are most likely what native legends mean when they speak of the "Bridge of the Gods."
There are several hiking trails in the area that gain more than 3,000 feet and will lead you to the summit of Table Mountain. It is recommended that hikers first stop at the Bonneville Dam Visitor Center for up-to-date trail conditions. The best months of the year to hike to Table Mountain are from late May to late September. Most trails follow the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) for some time before reaching the summit.
A Forest Pass is necessary if you will be parking at the Bonneville Trailhead to hike. These are generally $5 in 2009. There is no overnight parking at the trailhead.
The rock of Table Mountain is predominantly basalt resting on hundreds of feet of soft, clay-like sediments from Eagle Creek. This combination sets up the mountain for likely slides like the one that sheared off its famous cliff. Slides are still likely to occur today, and in 1996 slides in the area ruined nearby homes.
Article Written By Naomi Judd
Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.