The magnificent Columbia River forms a portion of the state boundary line between Oregon and Washington and runs through an area called the Columbia River Gorge.
The Gorge is home to international wind-surfing competitions and internationally-acclaimed breweries, as well as many campgrounds and more hiking trails than you could do in a lifetime; well, ok, in my lifetime. It’s a phenomenally gorgeous part of the two states it divides and is incredibly close to the cities and surrounding areas of Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington. Which makes it the perfect place to go for a day hike. Which I recently did with a couple of friends.
Tom McCall Nature Preserve is located about 75 miles east of Portland and the drive to the Rowena Crest Trailhead is about an hour and a half – there are no rest rooms and no water, so bring your own and go before you leave. Since this is a nature preserve, dogs are not allowed – leave them at home as there is no shade in the parking area for them to stay in the car while you hike.
The Preserve is loaded with wildflowers in the spring, making it a perfect time to take a hike. There are two different hikes located at the Preserve: the McCall Point Hike and the Rowena Plateau Hike. The one we took was the one to the top, to McCall Point. It’s short and kind of steep but the views of the Columbia River and surrounding areas are fabulous!
The blue bachelor buttons and purple vetch were in bloom as were the white yarrow. Looking out over the “plains” was like looking at an impressionistic painting done by a master painter. (My camera does not do it justice – it was the middle of the day and the colors wash out.)
Behind us, Mt. Adams popped its head out on the way up. The view through the tiny stand of trees was spectacular! Of course, I used this as an opportunity to stand in the shade for a few minutes, taking pictures.
Truth be told, I didn’t make it all the way to the top. I sat down on a little bluff about a quarter mile from the crest and rested my feet, enjoying the amazing view around me. Nick and Coleen continued on, Mt. Hood popping into view as they came around the “corner” at the top. I’m saving that amazing experience for the next time. <insert big grin here>
Rowena Crest is but one of many hikes in the Columbia River Gorge. If you have a few hours, check out some nature near the city. No matter what time of year or what your comfort level of hiking is, there’s a walk or hike on both sides of the river to be done! Click here to check out the Portland Hikers Field Guide to Columbia River Gorge Hikes.
If you’d like to see more, click here for all my photos of Rowena Crest and Tom McCall Preserve.
See you on the trail!