Friends of the Gorge host hikes

Want to whet your appetite for waterfalls in the Gorge this spring??

Friends of the Columbia Gorge’s 2012 Spring Hiking Program offers 59 educational outings for hikers of all levels. The hiking season kicked off March 15, offering a multitude of hikes, stewardship work parties, tours and one bike ride spread over a four-month season.

Offered on weekends and weekdays, these hikes follow the wildflower blooms from the eastern end of the Gorge westward.

In addition, Friends launched a hiking challenge on March 1 titled “Waterfall Wanderlust.” A list of 25 beautiful, semi-obscured waterfalls has been compiled to celebrate that the Gorge is home to more waterfalls than anywhere else in North America.

To view the list of waterfalls and to register visit Hikers can join Friends on 12 guided hikes to visit these waterfalls or head out on their own.

“Putting together this waterfall list was so much fun,” said Maegan Jossy, outdoor programs coordinator for Friends of the Columbia Gorge. “There’s something magical about watching water cascade off a cliff and the spray dance around you.

“There is so much to think about — the epic Ice Age floods that carved out this dramatic landscape to create the plethora of waterfalls, the allure of waterfalls and the conservation of water. I look forward to seeing how this challenge speaks to others.”

The Friends Hiking Program is a long-lasting Northwest tradition. Since 1980, Friends volunteers and staff have been leading hikes to the public to inspire and educate them about the beloved Columbia Gorge. Offering nearly 100 outings annually, more than 1,000 people join Friends on the trail.

The organization was founded more than 30 years ago and works to vigorously protect the scenic, natural, cultural and recreational resources within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. It is supported by more than 5,000 members in Oregon and Washington.

Here are three upcoming hikes and sign-up information:

n Saturday, May 5: Dalles Mountain Ranch, Wash.

Moderate/strenuous: 7 miles, 800-foot elevation gain

Brilliant yellow balsamroot carpets the eastern Gorge hillsides on this hike with leader Jim Denton. This moderate hike involves one difficult rocky scramble.

n Sunday, May 6: Fisher Hill to Pitt, Wash.

Moderate: 8 miles, 100-foot elevation gain

Join Klickitat Trail Conservancy leaders at the peak of flower season on a level but rocky trail leading from the Fisher Hill bridge to the town of Pitt. One-way hike with shuttle return.

n Thursday, May 10: PCT to Greenleaf Overlook, Wash.

Moderate: 8.0 miles, 800-foot elevation gain

Pacific Crest Trail Association staff member Dana Hendricks will lead this hike through both forested and logged areas to Gillette Lake, sharing the history, status and new plans for the PCT where it crosses private lands.

n Friday, May 11: Petroglyphs & Dancing Rock, Wash.

Two Walks: easy, 4 miles, little elevation gain

State Park guides will lead hikers to ancient petroglyphs and rock images, including “She Who Watches.” Hike with Outdoor Programs Coordinator Maegan Jossy to nearby Dancing Rock to see traces of the ice age floods and enjoy abundant wildflowers.

n Saturday, May 12: Cascade Locks Bird Walk, Ore.

Easy: 1-2 miles, little elevation gain

Join bird enthusiast Delores Porch for several short hikes between Cascade Locks and Hood River. Listen, identify, and increase your knowledge and awareness of birds that live in the Gorge.

n Saturday, May 12: Coyote Wall Loop, Wash.

Strenuous: 8.2 miles, 1,950-foot elevation gain

Leader Hal White will guide hikers through oak woodlands at the base of Coyote Wall, before hiking up to see stunning eastern Gorge views and then descending along the rim through flower-filled meadows.

n Sunday, May 13: Dry Creek Falls and Herman Creek Pinnacles, Ore.

Moderate: 6 miles, 950-foot elevation gain

Join Leader Billie Anger for a hike through lush forests to these fabled rock spires and enjoy the mid-season wildflowers along Herman Creek.

n Tuesday, May 15: Lower Falls Creek Falls, Wash.

Moderate: 3.4 miles, 650-foot elevation gain

Follow leader Jane Garbisch on this gentle trail, crossing a short suspension bridge over a cascading creek on the way to the 220-foot, three-tiered waterfall plunging into the bowl below.

n Thursday, May 17: Lend-a-Hand Stewardship at Dancing Rock, Wash.

Help remove skeleton weed, knapweed and St. John’s wort at this beautiful Land Trust property. Check out a vernal pond and traces of the ice age floods, surrounded by incredible Gorge vistas.

n Saturday, May 19: Nick Eaton Ridge Loop, Ore.

Rugged: 14 miles, 4,000-foot elevation gain

Climb along Herman Creek with Field Representative Peter Cornelison and Conservation Organizer Sam Lockhart to the crest of Nick Eaton Ridge, to a hanging meadow with breathtaking Gorge views.

n Sunday, May 20: Cape Horn, Wash.

Moderate: 4 miles, 1,900-foot elevation gain

Gorge Towns to Trails Project Manager Renee Tkach and partners from the Cape Horn Conservancy will share trail history as participants hike through leafy forests up to panoramic views at the Nancy Russell Overlook.

n Wednesday, May 23: Multnomah Falls and Wahkeena Falls Loop, Ore.

Moderate: 4.8 miles, 1,540-foot elevation gain

Follow leader Billie Anger on flower-lined trails past seven waterfall cascades as you hike this well-loved loop along Wahkeena Creek.

n Sunday, May 27: Klickitat River Bird Walk, Wash.

Easy: 1-2 miles, little elevation gain

Welcome the sunrise on an early morning bird walk with wildlife biologist and bird guide Tim Pitz. Learn bird species and their songs as you hike along the Klickitat River.

n Friday, June 1: Remember, Restore, Reconnect: Historic Columbia River Highway, Ore.

Driving Tour with 3 mile hiking,700-foot elevation gain

Kristen Stallman from ODOT leads this “behind the scenes” tour of the Historic Columbia River Highway, sharing its history, design, challenges and opportunities for the future. The hike will visit several waterfalls. $15 fee at registration

n Saturday, June 2: Catherine Creek/Coyote Wall, Wash., Stewardship Project.

Celebrate National Trails Day with Washington Trails Association, helping to restore and improve trails in the Catherine Creek area.

n Sunday, June 3: Fort Cascades Historic Trail, Wash.

Easy: 1.5 miles, no elevation gain

Stroll this historic trail with Park Ranger Jesse Brownlee, learning about plants and animal species used by early settlers in this forested area. After lunch, take a tour of the Bonneville Dam.

n Tuesday, June 5: Dog Mountain, Wash.

Strenuous: 6.9 miles, 2,820-foot elevation gain

Enjoy beauty and solitude on this Dog Mountain hike with leader Karl Kratzer, where wildflowers and panoramic views will be magical on a quiet weekday.

n Friday, June 8: Beacon Rock Geology Hike, Wash.

Easy: 2 miles, 800-foot elevation gain

Leader Jim Chase will guide hikers up Beacon Rock and describe the epic geologic events that shaped the Gorge, following a 20-minute presentation on the ice age floods.

n Saturday, June 9: Hamilton Mountain, Wash.

Strenuous: 9.4 miles, 2,100-foot elevation gain

This rugged hike past Pool of the Winds with leader Dave Johnson features wildflower meadows and fantastic views from the top of Hamilton Mountain.

n Sunday, June 10: Dog Mountain/Augspurger Loop, Wash.

Rugged: 16 miles, 4,400-foot elevation gain

Hike through lush forests up to the peaceful solitude atop Augspurger Mountain, next to Dog Mountain, with Field Representative Peter Cornelison, to enjoy brilliant wildflowers and incredible views.

n Saturday, June 16: Larch Mountain Crater, Ore.

Moderate: 6 miles, 1,100-foot elevation gain

Outdoor Programs Coordinator Maegan Jossy and Conservation Organizer Sam Lockhart will lead this hike to the remnants of a long-silent volcano.

n Sunday, June 17: Whistling Ridge, Wash.

Strenuous: 8 miles, 2,200-foot elevation gain

Leader Jeff Richard and Staff Attorney Nathan Baker will guide hikers across this public land ridge, whose name is shared by a wind energy project that is proposed nearby.

n Wednesday, June 20: Angels Rest/Devils Rest, Ore.

Strenuous: 9 miles, 2,300-foot elevation gain

Welcome summer with leader Jim Denton on a hike to fantastic views at Angels Rest, learning about forest ecology on the way to Devils Rest. Pass cool waterfalls as you descend on a flower-lined trail. Hike one-way and return via shuttle.

n Thursday, June 21: Lend a Hand Stewardship below Mosier Plateau, Ore.

Enjoy sweeping views of the eastern Gorge as you lend a hand on Land Trust property, removing blackberry and invasive grasses.

n Saturday, June 23: Steigerwald Kids’ Hike, Wash.

Easy: 2.75 miles, no elevation gain

Environmental educator Samantha Johnson will lead this exploratory hike on Gibbons Creek Nature Trail at Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge, pointing out animal signs, special vegetation and the wide variety of birds that live in the refuge.

n Sunday, July 8: Grassy Knoll, Wash.

Moderate: 6.8 miles, 1,000-foot elevation gain

Follow leader Jim Chase along a gently rolling ridge carpeted with wildflowers, where you can enjoy sweeping Gorge views and learn about Big Lava Bed.

n Tuesday, July 10: Franklin Ridge Loop, Ore.

Rugged: 12 miles, 2,760-foot elevation gain

Leader Linda Hughes will lead this challenging hike up Multnomah Creek, passing several falls on the way to Franklin Ridge.

n Wednesday, July 11: Wahclella Falls Kids’ Hike, Ore.

Easy: 1.8 miles, 380-foot elevation gain

Join environmental educator McKenzie Miller on this hike up Tanner Creek to Wahclella Falls. Look for signs of wildlife on a scavenger hunt, spot aquatic insects in Tanner Creek and explore plants with a magnifying glass. Learning, fun and adventure!

n Saturday, July 14: Silver Star, Wash.

Moderate: 5 miles, 1,500-foot elevation gain

Hillsides carpeted with wildflowers lead to expansive vistas on this hike with leader Stephen Brown, following Ed’s Trail to the summit of Silver Star.

n Saturday, July 14: Table Mountain/Heartbreak Ridge, Wash.

Rugged: 8 miles, 3,200-foot elevation gain

This steep power climb up iconic Table Mountain with Executive Director Kevin Gorman provides 360-degree vistas from the flower-filled meadows at the top, including views of the Bonneville Slide.

n Sunday, July 15: Little Baldy/Bluff Mountain, Wash.

Strenuous: 10.5 miles, 1,800-foot elevation gain

Leader Jim Chase will take hikers to breathtaking views, lofty ridges covered in flowers and cool enchanted forests as they hike this lesser-known trail near Silver Star mountain.

n Sunday, July 15: Cape Horn Loop, Wash.

Moderate: 6.8 miles, 1,600-foot elevation gain

Gorge Towns to Trails Project Manager Renee Tkach and Cape Horn Conservancy members will lead this loop hike to the Nancy Russell Overlook, and share area history and plans for the trail.

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