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