Columbia River Gorge Hiking Tour
* 6/30-7/5 (JUST ADDED!)
Assembly Point: Portland
|Tour Cost: $2,300
(includes all lodging, all meals, Timberline van shuttles, leaders, trail maps & narratives)
The historical role of the Columbia River Gorge in the westward expansion of our country was profound. Early explorers probed the mouth of the Columbia near present-day Astoria where the mighty river poured into the Pacific. Dreams of a water passage across the mountains to the Pacific lingered into the early years of the 19th century—a dream still cherished by Thomas Jefferson as he commissioned Lewis and Clark to explore the newly-acquired Louisiana Country.
The Columbia Gorge was the corridor through which Lewis and Clark traveled to reach the Pacific, and the avenue by which they began their long journey home. Even though the Expedition finally ended hopes of an all-water route across the continent, the information they gathered and documented, along with their reports and illustrations of the vast resources of the Pacific Northwest provided the inspiration for the tide of western expansion and settlement thatfollowed. By the mid-19th century, almost 12,000 pioneers had migrated to the Oregon Territory.
The Columbia Gorge also is a geologic wonder and its landscape truly reflects the power of nature. For millions of years, hundreds of erupting volcanoes frequently altered the course of the Columbia, ultimately creating one of the few canyons in the world oriented in an east-west direction. Near the end of the last Ice Age, the massive Missoula Floods swept across eastern Washington, scouring cliffs high above the river bed, creating one of the world’s greatest concentrations of waterfalls from tributaries left hanging above the river. No less than 77 of these falls can be found in the relatively short span between Troutdale and The Dalles.
Our Hiking Trip assembles early morning of Day 1 in Portland and we’ll van shuttle the short distance through the western portal of the Gorge. We’re headed to Beacon Rock State Park, named for the massive rock promontory identified by Lewis and Clark as they passed along this section of the river as winter approached in 1805. We’ll hike the Hamilton Mountain Trail, an 8-mile loop that includes a visit to stunning Rodney and Hardy Falls before cresting Hamilton’s summit for its breathtaking views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams and Table Rock. We’ll then head to Cascade Locks for our first of three evenings at the Columbia River Inn.
On Day 2, we’ll set out hiking along Eagle Creek, though quickly climbing well above the creek to 100-foot Metlako Falls and Punchbowl Falls. We’ll continue to High Bridge, a metal footbridge spanning an incredible slot-like chasm, before reaching Skooknichuck Falls. Our ultimate destination is awesome Tunnel Falls before returning to our trailhead (12 miles).
So many falls, so little time but we’ll bag a bunch as we dedicate Day 3 to the falls of the Columbia Gorge. Before day’s end, we will have hiked to Latourell, Wahkeena, Horsetail and magnificent 620-foot Multnomah Falls (7 miles). And for those who want more, we teased you with a glimpse of Beacon Rock on Day 1; late afternoon of Day 3, we’ll climb the astounding trail with its 47 switchbacks to the rock’s summit (2.5 miles).
On Day 4, it’s off to Dog Mountain and what well may be the Gorge’s premier hike. Without a doubt, Dog Mountain is a challenge with a 2,900-foot ascent in the context of a 7-mile loop. But the trail’s spectacular wildflower display and the incredible views of the Gorge are well worth the effort. This is a highlight of the Columbia River Gorge Hiking Tour.
From Dog Mountain, we’ll shuttle across the river to the slopes of Mt. Hood, where we’ll spend our final two overnights at the grand, historic Timberline Lodge. We’ve planned our spring Columbia Gorge hikes relatively early in the season with an ulterior motive in mind. Both the Gorge, and particularly the Hamilton Mountain and Dog Mountain trails, and the Mt. Hood area well may offer the most spectacular wildflower displays that we experience throughout our entire program. On Day 5, we’ll climb to the summit of Tom, Dick & Harry Mountain in the shadow of Hood’s southwestern flank through an unbelievable rhododendron forest in full bloom (7 miles).
Following our final evening at Timberline, we’ll visit beautiful Tamanawas Falls, named by Native American inhabitants of the region who regarded this 100-foot curtain as a “friendly guardian spirit” protecting Hood’s eastern flank (5 miles). Following lunch in Hood River, we’ll return to Portland where our Columbia River Gorge Hiking Tour concludes.
|Day 1||Group assembles in Portland; Beacon Rock State Park—hike Hamilton Mountain||8 miles|
|Day 2||Eagle Creek- Metlaka Falls-Punchbowl Falls- High Bridge- Skooknichuck Falls – Tunnel Falls.||12 miles|
|Day 3||The Falls of the Columbia Gorge: Latourell, Wahkeena, Horsetail, Multnomah; Beacon Rock (47 switchbacks)||10 miles|
|Day 4||Dog Mountain (2900 ft. ascent)||7 miles|
|Day 5||Tom, Dick & Harry Mountain||7 miles|
|Day 6||Tamanawas Falls; van shuttle to Portland||4 miles|
Total Hiking Mileage - 48 miles