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For those looking for a Hallmark Card-perfect holiday experience, you need to look no further—and go no farther—than Hood River. The picture-perfect historic downtown is alight with holiday spirit, and with snow-capped mountains as a backdrop and warm cafés and restaurants for refueling, there’s no more picturesque place to get into the holiday spirit.

Throughout the month, visitors can enjoy stress-free shopping in Hood River’s historic downtown, where there’s something for everyone on their list, and support small businesses at the same time. (You won’t get views of Mount Adams and Mount Hood while shopping in a mall or from your couch!)

To help make holiday shopping stress-free, the City of Hood River will host free metered parking from December 10-25 (Sunday parking is always free!). For zero driving stress, those coming from the Portland area can leave the car at home as the Columbia Gorge Express bus service is continuing through winter, with a new Hood River stop location right in front of Full Sail Brewing! Check the Columbia Gorge Express website for the winter schedule, which begins on December 3.

Shoppers can reward themselves with handcrafted drinks from one of Hood River’s breweries or cideries, enjoy a meal that’s locally inspired, and then spend the night in a historic hotel, cozy bed-and-breakfast, or riverside lodge.

Eastern Gorge, OR — When the original Columbia River Highway (CRH) was built through this area in 1921, it was necessary to build two tunnels to get through a high rock point. These tunnels and the nearby cliffs were a troublesome spot on the CRH: rockfalls were common and accidents happened all too frequently. A new road was completed in 1954 near water level and the tunnels were abandoned. They were soon filled with rock rubble and forgotten.

A trip to the west portal in the early ’90s found the road near the tunnels completely buried in fallen rock, with trees growing in the roadway. Only a quarter of a damaged tunnel portal was visible. In 1995, work was begun to reopen the tunnels for tourist use. This involved the removal of the rubble, rebuilding and resurfacing the road. The area opened to tourist use in 2000. Today, the old highway is known as the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail (HCRHT).

From the parking area, the path begins along the shoulder of Rock Creek Road, joining the old road about 0.2 miles down the hill. Walk through the gate and onto the old highway. The first part of the hike is through a large rock field, spotted with pine trees. The trail comes to the edge of the Gorge and turns west. Here, you’ll walk past stone guardrails and look down on Eighteen Mile Island. About a half mile from Rock Creek Road, a new stone-walled lookout has been built over the Columbia River. The grassy area around this lookout is a great place to see balsamroot and other wildflowers in April and May. Just past the lookout is the east portal of the east tunnel.

Kindness

www.resultsfitnesstraining.com

You’ll find milepost 72 inside the tunnel as well as carved graffiti from 1921, detailing the names of people that were trapped in the tunnel during a snowstorm. There are side passages leading to windows known as adits. West of the tunnels is a 700 foot structure designed to catch rocks falling from above. Beyond the tunnels, the trail continues another 4 miles to the Mark Hatfield West Trailhead, near Hood River.

History
Abandoned in 1954 with the construction of Interstate 84, these tunnels were filled in with rock and the road right-of-ways were reverted back to private owners. As Gorge legislation was being considered, thoughts of reconnecting the entire old highway gained momentum and the idea made its way into the National Scenic Area Act. Reconnecting the highway between Hood River and Mosier meant re-purchasing right-of-ways, closing several gravel pits and digging out and refurbishing the two tunnels. The highway and tunnels were finally reopened in 2000 as a result of hard work and generosity on federal, state, county and private levels. Consider biking this paved, 14-mile out-and-back (round-trip distance) section of the highway from Hood River to Mosier.

From gorgefriends

OLYMPIA, WA — Washington State Parks anticipates heavy use of Beacon Rock and Columbia Hills state parks this spring and summer and advises visitors to the area to plan accordingly.

The Eagle Creek Fire of 2017 damaged most of the Oregon trails in the Columbia River Gorge, and State Parks and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) trails are experiencing a significant increase in hikers and crowded parking on the Washington side of the Gorge.

Beacon Rock State Park lies 40 miles east of Portland. The park’s most popular trail up the side of 848-foot Beacon Rock, celebrates its 100-year anniversary this April. The park is also home to the challenging 7.5-mile Hamilton Mountain trail, a hike known for waterfalls and views.

Dalles Mountain Ranch, in Columbia Hills Historical State Parkand just across the Columbia River from The Dalles, Oregon, is a favorite wildflower hike in spring. The 8-mile hike features fields of lupine, balsamroot and Indian paintbrush.

Rangers at the two parks want to remind visitors that parking on State Route 14 is illegal. Safety issues caused by parking on the highway’s shoulder have prompted USFS to require limited weekend use permits and offer shuttles for the well-trodden Dog Mountain trail.

Parks staff encourages hikers to plan visits for midweek, early morning or late afternoon to avoid the high-volume weekend, holiday and mid-morning to mid-afternoon hours.

Beacon Rock staff reminds visitors that parking at the Doetsch day use area is available 1.5 miles from the Beacon Rock trailhead and 2 miles from the Hamilton Mountain trailhead, on the River to Rock Trail. Experienced hikers can use the Hardy Ridge Trail as an alternative to Hamilton Mountain, as the lesser-known trail offers slightly more elevation gain.

Additionally, technical rock climbing on Beacon Rock is closed, except for the west face and the route “Stone Soup” on the northwest face, and is expected to reopen in mid-July. The closure protects the nesting habitat of the peregrine falcon. The east face is permanently closed to protect rare species and cultural and historical resources.

Columbia Hills staff asks visitors to consider such lesser-known trails as Crawford Oaks and Horsethief Butte as alternatives to the Dalles Mountain Ranch, or to hike in nearby Brooks Memorial State Park and the Klickitat State Park Trail. Ample parking is available at Horsethief Lake inside Columbia Hills, but parking is minimal at most trailheads in the area.

To learn more, visit: http://parks.state.wa.us/

Beacon

Hiking up Beacon Rock Trail.

The recent Eagle Creek Fire and the resulting trail closures in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area have many people wondering where and how to get their Gorge fix. The answer is simple: They can come to The Dalles and the eastern end of the Gorge, where there is an abundance of beautiful hiking trails, plus unparalleled cycling routes, unique museums, world-class fishing and more.   At the end of the day, visitors can relax at one of the new breweries and pubs, or enjoy a glass of wine at a local tasting room. And with 300 days of sun and only 14 inches of rain a year (compared to 37 inches in Portland), The Dalles is the perfect fall and winter escape.

Some Fun Gorge Escapes

Hike amongst petroglyphs. Head across The Dalles Bridge to Horsethief Butte. For age-old petroglyphs and stupendous views of the Gorge, this hike can’t be beat. Though the trail is just two miles long, the hike can take all day, given the seemingly endless rock labyrinths and basalt mazes within the butte.

The Friends of the Gorge website is a great resource for more hikes in the Eastern Gorge and beyond. For post-fire hiking suggestions, visit gorgefriends.org/hike-the-gorge/columbia-gorge-hiking-opportunities.html.

Gorge

Hike amongst the Petroglyphs. Photo by Michael J. Horodyski.

 

Hit the road on two wheels. The Dalles is a cyclist’s paradise, with rides ranging from the family-friendly Riverfront Trail to a gorgeous spin on the Historic Columbia River Highway (which is still open east of Hood River) to an all-day, 100-mile epic to Mount Hood and back. Winter is the perfect time to take advantage of the area’s dry climate, and the newly updated “Explore The Dalles Scenic Bikeways” bike map includes six of the most popular local routes, which vary in length and intensity. The map is available online and for free at The Dalles Chamber’s headquarters (404 W. Second St.), Dalles City Cyclery in downtown The Dalles and Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum, which is located at the west end of the Riverfront Trail.

 

Gorge

Go out on two wheels! Photo by Justin Yuen.

Explore downtown. Historic downtown The Dalles is beautifully preserved and offers a plethora of shopping experiences, including Klindt’s Booksellers & Stationers, Oregon’s oldest bookstore (founded in 1870); Yesterday & Today Records (vinyl, CDs, DVDs and an awesome collection of Beatles paraphernalia), clothing stores, antique and second-hand shops, great restaurants and cafes, Dalles City Cyclery, Flyfishing Strategies Fly Shop, wineries and more. For a complete overview, see the downtown shopping map. And don’t miss the unique historic mural artwork while strolling downtown.

Gorge

Explore downtown. Photo by Klindt’s Booksellers & Stationers

We will feature three more east Gorge escapes soon.

Springtime in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is a place of natural wonder and fun for the whole family. Here are six diverse ways to experience spring in and around The Dalles:

Northwest Cherry Festival at The Dalles

Experience authentic Oregon at the Northwest Cherry Festival (April 22-24, 2016). Now in its 37thyear, this popular festival showcases The Dalles’ deep agricultural roots and Western roots. This year’s theme, “Highway to Cherrytown,” is a nod to the Historic Columbia River Highway’s Centennial celebration. Festivities include the Gorge’s biggest parade, classic car, a 10k running race, pony rides, Davis Show’s Carnival, and lots of local music. And of course, there’s also cherry sampling with the Oregon Cherry Growers. The festival culminates with the crowning of Festival King Bing and Queen Anne.

Springtime Wildflowers

Immerse yourselves in wildflowers. Head out right now to see the spectacular wildflowers that are painting the Gorge, which is home to 15 wildflowers found nowhere else and to over 800 species overall. Don’t miss the fantastic display at Tom McCall Preserve, a Nature Conservancy site with two short (one- and two-miles) hikes and spectacular views of the Gorge.

Historic Columbia River Highway

Take on the Historic Columbia River Highway during its centennial year. The Historic Columbia River Highway was America’s first scenic highway, and 2016 marks 100 years since it was dedicated at Multnomah Falls in 1916. Motorists, motorcyclists and cyclists will love the final, iconic section of the 73-mile long Historic Highway, between Mosier and The Dalles. It includes amazing views and spring wildflowers at Rowena Crest’s Tom McCall Preserve, and memorable descent into The Dalles via the Rowena Curves – featured in numerous car commercials.

 

Gorge Highway

The Columbia River Gorge Highway celebrates its 100 anniversary.

Go Fish

The eastern end of the Gorge is an angler’s paradise. It hosts some of the greatest fishing around with easy access to several major rivers such as the Klickitat, Deschutes, John Day, and the Columbia. The Dalles Pool, which stretches from The Dalles Dam upstream to the John Day Dam is home to the Pacific Northwest’s best walleye fishery. If your angling for Cohoe and Chinook salmon, then the Spring and Fall runs on the Columbia will not disappoint but if you are looking for a River Monster Adventure then you need to try your luck with the allusive Sturgeon that reside on the bottom of the Columbia River.

Explore Winery Scene

Explore the Gorge’s winery scene during Gorge Wine Experience (April 29-May 1, 2016). This three-day Gorge wine immersion experience brings together wine lovers, winemakers, vignerons and local cuisine and celebrates everything that makes Gorge wine exceptional. More than 25 themed wine activities throughout the Gorge over one weekend will let wine enthusiasts to see all sides of Gorge wine and meet the faces behind the labels. The Dalles area includes many award-winning wineries, including Maryhill Winery and Jacob Williams Winery. For full details and tickets, go to columbiagorgewine.com.

Bird Watching

Discover why The Dalles is Oregon’s best kept secret for discovering our fine feathered friends. From the east side of Mount Hood to The Dalles is where you will find tree-lined trails providing the best riverside birding in the county. Species seen here include Greater White-fronted Geese, Wood Duck, Canvasback, Grebes, Osprey, shorebirds, many species of gulls, Common Tern, Caspian Tern, Western Kingbird, American Pipit, and Cedar Waxwing, to name a few. A great activity for all ages! Don’t forget the amazing Raptor Shows at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Wasco County Museum for an up-close encounter with the birds of prey of the Gorge.

 

 

 

The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, OR/WA – America’s first scenic highway, the Historic Columbia River Highway, turns 100 in 2016.

In celebration, ‘a surprise around every corner’ is being promised by Oregon and Washington communities throughout the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, with events and exhibits planned for the public.

Exhibits are now underway at both ends of the Historic Highway, including the “King of Roads” exhibit at Troutdale Historic Society, featuring photographs and stories of the people who made the building of the highway possible and “Sam Hill and the Columbia River Highway” at Maryhill Museum of Art, an exhibition of black and white prints showing both construction photos of the highway and early scenic views of the Columbia River Gorge, among many other programs planned at of the former home of the Historic Highway’s visionary, Samuel Hill, now Maryhill Museum of Art.

At the Oregon State Library in Salem through December, “A Poem in Stone – Celebrating the Historic Columbia River Highway,” collections tell the story of transportation through the Columbia River Gorge, focusing on the construction, early history and restoration of the Columbia River Highway. Includes books and reports on the Highway, early travel brochures, photographs, postcards and maps. (Oregon State Library, Second Floor, 250 Winter Street NE, Salem, OR).

30+ Columbia Gorge Highway Centennial Events

Communities along the scenic highway have planned more than 30 events to celebrate this anniversary

April 22-24: 37th Annual Northwest Cherry Festival

Head to The Dalles for the Gorge Highway 37th Annual Northwest Cherry Festival. A longtime favorite among locals and visitors alike, the festival is set in the spectacular Columbia River Gorge and showcases The Dalles’ deep agricultural heritage and Western roots. The Best Ever Cherry Festival in 2015 expanded to three days of family-friendly activities and events, and 2016 is going to be even better! The Northwest Cherry Festival takes place in downtown The Dalles from Friday, April 22 through Sunday, April 24, 2016. The fun begins with a Dance Party on Friday  April 22nd at 7pm, and continues with the Gorge’s biggest parade, classic car and tractor shows, a 10k race, and lots of great local music and bands. There’s also cherry sampling with the Oregon Cherry Growers, pony rides, and Davis Show’s Carnival. Be sure to see the Festival culminate with the crowning of Festival King Bing and Queen Anne! The Dalles Has Much More to Offer Though the festival alone could keep you busy. Voted one of the “Top Ten True Western Towns of 2014” and one of “The 19 Most Beautiful Small Towns In America,” The Dalles is one of Oregon’s great escapes, just beginning to be discovered. This historic town sits at the eastern entrance of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, just 75 miles east of Portland. With 300 days of sun a year and fantastic recreational and cultural opportunities, it’s a wonderland for cyclists, hikers, river rafters, wildflower fanatics, fishers, art lovers, history buffs and wine aficionados. Look for other events taking place in The Dalles all week long!

 

Gorge Highway

This map shows key points along the Columbia River Gorge Highway.

 

May 7: Poetry Workshop: Inspired by Roads

Participants will create poems based on this majestic byway using historic photographs as inspiration. The event will be hosted by poet Tim Barnes from 1-4 p.m. at Maryhill Museum of Art; free, registration required 509-773-3733.

June 7: Pictorial Postmarks

The Bridal Veil Post Office will establish a temporary philatelic station and offer two Pictorial Postmarks commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Historic Columbia River Highway at Multnomah Falls from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Mail-in requests for postmarking will be offered by the Bridal Veil, OR Post Office (Postmaster/ 1W Mill Road/ Bridal Veil, OR 97010-9998) until August 12. In addition, the U.S. Postal Service is selling a Priority Mail Express stamp, available in panes of 10, celebrating the grandeur of the Columbia River Gorge.

June 11: Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum (WAAAM) Action Day

The WAAAM Air & Auto Museum has one of the largest collections of still-flying antique aeroplanes and still-driving antique automobiles in the country.  The items on display at this museum are not only full of history, they’re full of LIFE!

At WAAAM you will enjoy an extensive collection of antique aircraft including the 1917 Curtiss JN-4D Jenny featuring an OX-5 90 HP engine, our Piper Cub and WACO collections, Aeronca collection, Stearman collection and many more fun aircraft.

Don’t forget the cars.  There are over 130 cars in the collection at last count.  Whether you want to see the 1914 Detroit Electric, a Ford Model A or Model T, a Packard, a Studebaker or even a Locomobile, you are sure to find your favorite. 

We’ll update this list as dates move closer to the actual events.

About the Historic Columbia River Highway & State Trail (Historic Route 30) Centennial Celebration

The Columbia River Highway, hailed “America’s great highway,” was officially dedicated on June 7, 1916 with a dazzling affair that drew the attention of the nation and the world. Constructed between 1913 and 1922, America’s first scenic highway served thousands of travelers and took full advantage of the Columbia River Gorge’s natural beauty including its waterfalls and amazing vistas, to become known as the “King of Roads.” The Historic Columbia River Highway is still known for its attention to design details resulting in an iconic style and innovative construction techniques such as rock walls, bridges and notable structures such as Vista House and Multnomah Falls Lodge.

By the early 1950s, the construction of a faster, straighter, water-level route through the Gorge (which would become Interstate 84) obliterated many sections of the Highway, leaving what remained abandoned and disconnected. The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act of 1986 directed the State of Oregon to connect these abandoned highway sections as a pedestrian and bike trail. This new rendition of America’s First Scenic Highway would be known as the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail.

The Historic Columbia River Highway 2016 Celebration Committee, made up of citizens and organizations from throughout the Gorge are working together to ensure that the celebration properly honors this national historic landmark. For more information on the Highway and the 100th anniversary celebration, visit: www.historichighway.org.

Gorge Highway

The Columbia River Gorge Highway celebrates its 100th anniversary.

Dog Mountain Trail, which begins right off Highway 14 in the Columbia Gorge Scenic Area, is an aggressive hike that is used by many to help with conditioning for runs or longer hikes.

“It took us three hours to do it,” said Steve Hoskisson, of Camas, who hiked the trail recently with his son, Logan. “It doesn’t look hard until you’re in there a bit. We enjoyed it, though.”

Start point: Dog Mountain Trailhead

  • End point: Dog Mountain
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike type: Loop
  • Distance: 6.9 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2800 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Seasons: Spring-Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Back-packable: No
  • Crowded: Yes

This is a popular trail, and the trailhead is known to be crowded at peak seasons. You may want to save time and reserve a shuttle at Stevenson. The schedule is available here: http://www.skamaniacounty.org/TRANSPORTATION/WKND_TRNS.pdf

Hikers recommend taking Dog Mountain during the weekdays or early in the morning on weekends — to avoid crowds.

Dog Mountain Trail

Dog Mountain Trailhead

 

Dog Mountain is a popular hike because of its easy access to the Columbia Gorge, breathtaking views, and proximity to the Portland Metro area. But know that looks can be deceiving — the trails are very steep and will require conditioned and healthy hikers. Prime hiking time is Spring through Fall, offering stunning wildflower vistas through June, and beautiful Autumn foliage in October. The easiest part of the hike is the first 1.5 miles up to the lower viewpoint.

At the trailhead, hikers walk along Trail 147 for 0.7 miles to a junction, which then leads to the open forest floor in the lower portion of the trail. The trail offers two options — a more difficult and less difficult route. Hiker have had varying opinions on which is better. You decide what looks best for you.

The trail gets much steeper, and then you will see the summit meadows as you climb.  From here, two trails go to the top and create a loop. The main trail veers to the left, towards a meadow known for high Gorge winds. Plan for that.

In about 4/10 of a mile you will pass a signed junction. Continue up, on the right hand trail, which is the Summit Loop Trail. At the top of the meadow, follow a short spur trail to a fire ring and a great location for eating and resting.  You can return the same way, or continue southeast on the Summit Loop Trail, which meets the main trail at Puppy Dog Lookout.  From Puppy Dog Lookout, you can return to the trailhead.

You may also use Augspurger Trail.

Driving Directions to Dog Mountain

From Carson, drive approximately 9 miles east on State Route 14 to the trail-head, just beyond milepost 53. The parking area and trailhead are on the left (north) side of the highway.

 

Dog Mountain

View from the Summit meadows on Dog Mountain Trail.

 

Dog Mountain

The lower portion of the Dog Mountain Trail.

 

Dog Mountain

Map of the Dog Mountain Trail.