As of Friday, October 3, 2014
Unlike alpine areas, the Columbia River Gorge can be hiked year-round. Autumn, however, is one of the loveliest seasons to lace up your hiking boots and head outdoors. Deciduous leaves change to hues of amber, decorating the 83-mile stretch of canyon walls in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. As the rains return, waterfalls swell. Summer crowds are gone leaving the trails quieter to provide a solitary connection to the natural surroundings.
Here are Friends of the Columbia Gorge’s top five hikes for highlighting the special qualities of autumn. For more specific info, visit www.gorgefriends.org
Cape Horn Loop, WA
This moderately difficult 7.7-mile trail winds through a pleasant forest of coniferous and deciduous trees, emerging to numerous views of the Gorge including the best view from the Nancy Russell Overlook.
Eagle Creek, or Wahclella Falls, OR
These two trails are a single entry because both follow creeks that provide excellent viewing of spawning salmon. From the parking lot you can view this seasonal spectacle, however, the fun continues when hiking the trails. Both are of easy grade but Wahclella Falls is more family-friendly.
Klickitat Trail, WA
Autumn colors of shrub-steppe habitat and oak trees surround you on the golden eastern Gorge hillsides, contrasting dramatically with the deep blue of the Wild and Scenic Klickitat River. Once a railroad bed, the Klickitat Trail is fairly flat as it follows the Klickitat River upstream for 13 miles from the quaint town of Lyle to Klickitat.
Latourell Falls Loop, OR
This 2.4-mile loop hike has it all! Two waterfalls, several wooden bridge crossings, views of the Gorge, and lush green and golden foliage lining the trail. It’s of little elevation gain and makes for a great family outing.
Hamilton Mountain, WA
Hamilton Mountain is a classic Gorge hike rich in waterfalls, cliffs, deep forests and stunning views. The vine maples illuminate the forest this time of year on this 9.4-mile loop hike located within Beacon Rock State Park.