Waterfall Magic in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon and Washington
- Discover and explore the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area
- Experience dramatic waterfalls at high flow
- Visit Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Bonneville Dam Visitors Center
- Transportation from the Portland International Airport
- Room and meals at Columbia-Willamette YMCA Camp Collins in Gresham, Oregon
- One dinner will be at a well-known local restaurant
|Dates||Jun 8–13, 2014|
Hike on multiple trails in the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area, with its cascading waterfalls, towering basalt cliffs, and groves of old-growth Douglas fir, western hemlock, and western red cedar. Steep canyon walls lend to creation of waterfall magic—the Columbia Gorge Scenic Area has the highest concentration of waterfalls in North America. They come in all sizes and shapes. On the Oregon side, we will sample some of the most famous waterfall hikes. The Washington side provides hikes with tremendous views of the Columbia River and surrounding mountains.
The Columbia River has been a transportation route for many peoples as it divides the two states, Washington and Oregon, on its journey to the Pacific Ocean. Geologically, the Gorge was created by volcanic eruptions, which laid down the basalt rock; floods carved out the U-shaped valley and landslides blocked the river channel, forming the great cascades.
The exact schedule of events will be dependent on the weather and the needs of the group.
The outing will begin with dinner on Sunday, June 8 (5:30 p.m.) at the YMCA Camp Collins in Gresham, Oregon. The outing will officially end after breakfast (8:00 a.m.) at the YMCA camp on Friday, June 13.
The outing will feature a choice of several outstanding hikes:
- A spectacular loop trip, beginning at Multnomah Falls, the centerpiece of all the Gorge waterfalls with a 620-foot drop. Our return hike will take us past amazing Wahkeena Falls. (Total distance: 5.4 miles)
- A climb to the top of Beacon Rock (1.8 miles round trip) to enjoy a panoramic view of the entire Gorge. See the same view that Lewis and Clark saw when they came through.
- The fabulous Eagle Creek Trail on the Oregon side, which has more waterfalls along it than any other Gorge trail. Depending on the energy level of the group, we may hike all the way to Tunnel Falls for 12 miles round trip.
- The Dog Mountain Loop (7 miles), with 2,400 feet of elevation gain. You will be able to see Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams, Mount Hood from the summit of Dog Mountain.
- The five-mile Oneonta-Horsetail Falls loop, including Triple Falls. We'll even be able to walk behind one of these falls.
- Shorter hikes to Elowah and Wahclella Falls and to the Pool of the Winds could also be added, time, weather and energy permitting.
The closest airport to fly into is Portland. Transportation from this airport to the YMCA camp will be provided by the trip leaders for participants who arrive by 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 8. The official starting time of the outing is 5:30 p.m. on June 8.
For those trip participants who will be driving, detailed directions will be provided in a pre-trip bulletin.
Accommodations and Food
Sleeping accommodations and most meals will be provided by the Columbia-Willamette YMCA Camp Collins, located on the banks of the Sandy River, just east of Gresham, Oregon, a short drive from the Portland International Airport. We will be staying in the Health House at the Camp, which contains five private bedrooms (maximum sleeping capacity of 16 people) and two and a half bathrooms. Married couples will be given a room to themselves; singles may be placed in rooms of three to four people, depending on the total number of trip participants. This facility also contains a full kitchen and a common living area. In order to keep costs low, the camp does not supply bed linens, blankets, pillows, towels or wash cloths. We will also be responsible for keeping our living areas clean. For more information about Camp Collins and the Health House, you can visit: http://ymcacw.org/locations/ymca-camp-collins and http://ymcacw.org/conference-and-retreat-lodging
We plan to have one dinner at our favorite restaurant in Stevenson, Washington which is also included in the trip price.
The focus is on beautiful, moderate to strenuous day hikes. You will only need to carry a daypack with your lunch and essentials. Hike lengths can range up to 12 miles, with up to 2,400 feet of elevation gain. Any hike is optional, but a program of conditioning will assure you'll be able to do all the hikes. Recommendations for this will be detailed in a future bulletin.
As this outing occurs in one of the rainiest places in the contiguous U.S. you should come prepared to hike in the rain. Some of the trails have steep drop-offs, but ample width for comfort; if you have difficulty with heights, this trip may not be for you.
Equipment and Clothing
A detailed equipment list will be sent to all approved participants, but basically you will need to provide good raingear, waterproofed and well-broken-in hiking boots, layers of clothing for changing conditions, and hiking poles for rough, steep trails. Participants are also responsible for bringing their own bed linens or sleeping bag, pillow, towels and wash cloth.
- U.S. Forest Service Trails of the Columbia River Gorge
- Schneider, Russ, Hiking the Columbia River Gorge.
- Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area: http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/columbia/forest/recreation
- Mt. Hood National Forest: http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/mthood/recreation/trails
- Friends of the Columbia Gorge: http://www.gorgefriends.org
Sierra Club is actively involved in both conservation and sustainability of resources, both locally and globally. Our work is accomplished by volunteers and salaried staff, and encourages grassroots involvement. Our outings seek to empower participants toward greater understanding, advocacy, and participation in the goals of the club.
We will discuss the challenges that the Columbia River Gorge area has faced through the years. It has been a major transportation route for peoples and cargoes on their way to the Pacific Ocean. Logging, mining, shipping, and roads have all affected the environment. In 1986, dedicated citizens and politicians enabled the area to receive the designation of the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area. Still the area faces challenges with a growing population, proposals for development such as the Columbia Gorge casino, wind turbines, and recent concerns about increased numbers of trains transporting coal.
Sierra Club National Outings is an equal-opportunity provider and will operate under a permit from the Mount Hood National Forest.
Notes for Sierra Club Outings
- Carbon Offsets
- Electronic Billing and Forms
- Electronic Devices
- How to Apply for a Trip
- Leader Gratuities
- Liability Release and Assumption of Risk
- Medical Issues
- Non-discrimination Statement
- Participant Approval
- Reservation and Cancellation Policy
- Seller of Travel Disclosure
- Travel Insurance
- Trip Feedback
- Trip Price
- Wilderness Manners