NOTE: We hiked the Columbia Hills State Park Hike the weekend before COVID-19 lock-downs. Even then, people on the trail were distancing and loud murmurs of impending disaster made everyone uneasy. I’m posting this now, in August 2022. Trail conditions are MUCH drier and hotter. I imagine rattlesnakes, ticks, sunburn, and dehydration are all the rage right now. I’m not going to personally check that out though. Prepare well!
Spring is the time to enjoy hikes along the Columbia River Gorge.
We hiked about 4.5 miles of the Crawford Oaks trails on Highway 14, on the north side of the highway near Horsethief Lake. I say spring and fall because there is only sparse shade on the service road headed up to the head of the canyon. Once you reach the ridge view trails and grasslands, well, all you have is grass, sagebrush, and weeds. No shade.
But. You have fantastic views! We could clearly see Mt. Hood, The Dalles, and up and down the Columbia River. While warm in the canyon, once we hit the top of the hills, the wind was blowing Goldendale-style. Good thing my hat has a neck band for holding it on. This kept us cool, but the sun was in full force.
One very cool thing we saw was the waterfall. You can hear it from the parking lot and on the way up, as you hike beside the stream and cross it to get to the trails. I doubt there is much water flowing in late summer and fall. The water attracted all sorts in winged (and annoying) insects. Butterflies, horseflies, and beetles. Birds were plentiful and filled the air with chattering, squabbling, color, and entertainment. One of my favorites has always been meadowlarks. We heard several singing their beautiful song as we hiked. Jays, magpies, a bald eagle, and numerous sparrows added to our enjoyment.
Squirrels darted all over the canyon area and chittered loudly at we hiking intruders.
All in all, it was a beautiful hike. While we did not see snakes, I know rattlesnakes will become an issue as it warms up.
This is a great hike right now. OH. We were about two weeks too early for the lupines. That is going to be one beautiful show.
Necessities: sunblock, hat, sunglasses, ample water, good shoes
The trailhead has one of the cleanest port-o-potties I’ve seen, plus a shaded picnic table. Trails are well marked.