Originally when I was planning my trip to the Pacific Northwest, this wasn’t on my to-do list. But I kept noticing more and more shots on Instagram of places I’d want to see, and they were all in this area.
Here is something you need to know about the Columbia River Gorge area: it is super crowded on the Oregon side, given the proximity to Portland.
Since it fit into my itinerary on a Saturday, I started on the less crowded Washington side, and saved the waterfalls on the Oregon side for late in the day/early evening, to avoid the worst of it.
I started my day with coffee, obviously, and then headed to Beacon Rock State Park. Beacon Rock is, just as the name suggests, a giant rock sticking up on the side of the Columbia River. The hike to the top is fairly short, but after the first little bit through the woods, it’s super exposed. It was hot, so it felt like more of a struggle than it really was. Most of the trail is wooden walkways bolted to the side of Beacon Rock that switchback relentlessly. I’m not sure how many switchbacks there are, but there are a lot. In the picture below you’ll see some of them. Keep in mind: that was just one section.
After Beacon Rock I headed to the Bridge of the Gods to cross into Oregon. This was my first visit to Oregon, as well as Washington, and both states have left me wanting more.
I stopped to get some ice cream, because I’m a total fangirl over Wild (book and movie, to answer the question posed in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life), at one of the locations from the book. I spent some time wandering around the town of Cascade Locks, which is pretty small but pleasant.
After that, I headed towards Portland on the Oregon side of the river, stopping at several waterfalls, including the ever popular Mulnomah Falls. There were quite a few switchbacks to the top of the falls, but nothing like earlier at Beacon Rock!
I also stopped to hike in Oneonta Gorge, but there aren’t any pictures. For this hike, you crawl over an impressive log jam, and hike up the middle of the river to the waterfalls. I had no waterproof pouch for my phone or camera, and the water was up to my armpits at times, so the memories will live on only in my mind.
I also stopped at several other waterfalls*, some of which were roadside pullouts and some of which required a tiny bit of hiking.
*Bridal Veil Falls, Horsetail Falls, Shephard’s Dell, and Wahkeena Falls
My only regret for this part of my trip is that I ran out of time (and energy!) to hike Angel’s Rest. Next summer!