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Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area






Description of Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

Location: Washington, Oregon   Map

Depth: 4,000 feet (1,200 m) deep

Length: 80 miles (130 km)

The Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area: Tel. (541) 386 2333

Headquarters: 902 Wasco Ave, Suite 200, Hood River, OR 97031


Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is a nature reserve that protects Columbia River Gorge that reaches maximum depth of 4,000 feet (1,200 m) deep and stretches for over 80 miles (130 km) in Washington and Oregon states of USA. Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is famous for its lush virgin forest that covers the picturesque valley. First human presence in the region date back over 13,000 years ago when the Folsom and Marmes cultures first settled in the region shortly after crossing the Bering Land Bridge Between Siberia and North America. Archaeological digs indicates that these people lived largely from fishing salmon that are abundant in the region. Later Native American tribes used Columbia River Gorge as a highway for travel, hunting and trading among each other.
In 1805 the Lewis and Clack Expedition used the Columbia river to reach the Pacific Ocean thus finishing their journey. In 1840's Columbia River was used as a conduit for Oregon Trail settlers who shipped their wagons on a simpler and safer water route. Another parallel overland segment of the Oregon Trail that became known as the Barlow Road (also known as Mount Hood Road)is preserved along the Columbia river. It was built in 1846 by Sam Barlow and Philip Foster with the authorization of the Provisional legislature of Oregon. The original path of the Old Oregon Trail is still preserved and it is on a list of the National Register of Historic Places, incorporated (since 2005) into the Mount Hood Scenic Byway. Growth of popular tourism forces state government to construct Oregon's Historic Columbia Gorge Highway in the 1910's. Parts of the original road serves as a scenic byway.
Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is probably best viewed from the river itself. It offers a great view of surrounding mountains and forests. However the region also contains over 30 hiking trails. Additionally there are several sites open for overnight backpacking. Do some research and keep and eye for weather when you travel to the region. Heavy rains might create quiet significant hurdles to anyone caught in the region. Unfortuantely Columbia Gorge trailheads have a widely spread reputation for car break ins. Be sure to lock your car and hide all valuable in well hidden places. Summer and fall are usually the best time to hike. Bring an extra pair of shoes since keeping your feet dry is vital.




Eagle Creek Trail (Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area)

Duration: 6 hours to 2 days
Distance: 12 miles (19.3 km)
Difficulty: medium to medium- hard
Nearest town: Cascade Locks
Public transport: none
The most popular hiking trail in the area of Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is an Eagle Creek Trail that can take up to 2 days to complete. This historical trail is located on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. It takes tourists along 11 picturesque waterfalls along a narrow canyon. Depending on your personal wishes you can take shorter route for several hours or turn it into a multiday hiking trip.
Eagle Creek Trail in the Columbia River Gorge was created in 1910's during engineering work on road construction of the Columbia Gorge Highway. Parts of the hiking trail have no rails and thus they can be dangerous to children and animals. The end point is a beautiful Tunnel Falls that ends in the swimmable pool at the foot of the cliff. An overnight 7 1/2 Mile Camp is a backcountry camping site is located 1.5 miles pass the Tunnel Falls. Additionally there are seven designated campsites along the distance of the trail.
Additionally some hikers make shorter day trips. This include trails to Punchbowl Falls (about 4.2 roundtrip) or High Bridge Trail (about 7 mi roundtrip). However the trail to the Tunnel Falls doesn't end there. You can explore Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area further by taking longer backcountry loops to viewpoints at Wahtum lake and Benson Plateau by connecting via the Pacific Crest Trail, Wy'East Trail No 434 and Ruckel Creek Trail No 405.



How to get here

By car
From downtown Portland, simply take I-84 east toward The Dalles. From I-5 from outside the Portland metro area, take the I-205 exit at either Tualatin, Oregon (exit 288 from I-5 north) or Vancouver, Washington (exit 7 from I-5 south), and follow signs to I-84 east toward The Dalles.

On foot
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a well known trail that extends along the West coast of the United States, from Mexico to Canada. It passes through California, Oregon, and Washington State.


Get around

Interstate 84 is a great way to get around the gorge. Be sure to meander on the side roads like the "Old Columbia Highway" (Route 30), by taking exit 18 toward Lewis and Clark State Park/ Oxbow Regional Park. Take a left onto Crown Point Highway. Then take a right onto East Columbia River Highway. This road passes by multiple scenic locations such as Multnomah Falls, Punchbowl Falls, Eagle Creek and more.





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