This easily accessible and popular hike is stocked with rich forests, a waterfall, imposing views of the Columbia Gorge, and brightly colored leaves in the spring and fall. Although portions of this loop utilize dirt and paved roads, it more than compensates with spectacular views.
Portions of this trail are quite exposed, so be sure to keep a careful eye on children and pets.
It's a good idea to bring waterproof footwear and gaiters in the winter and after recent rains. The trails here can be quite muddy.
Although it travels beneath the Evergreen Highway at potentially dangerous crossings, this route still involves hiking on public roads. Keep your wits about you and pay attention to cars.
From the trailhead, the trail climbs steadily, switchbacking its way beneath a canopy of bigleaf maples to Pioneer Point. From this sheer edge, the area's verdant foothills and meadows beautifully frame the river below.
From here, the trail makes a brief descent before transitioning into a mellow climb. Keep left at the various junctions with an old wagon road along this section. The trail continues to casually follow the arch of the ridgeline as it heads to the first road section.
Upon reaching Strunk Road, cross over and join the left-veering singletrack on the other side. This is immediately followed by a gravel road with fields continuing on either side. Ahead, a cluster of trees growing along the road signals the start of more singletrack to the left. A little winding back-and-forth through the woods brings hikers to the Nancy Russell Overlook. This stone overlook is well placed for enjoying broad panoramic views of the Columbia River Valley over a snack or lunch break.
When you're ready, continue following the trail as it switchbacks down to a crossing beneath the highway. This thickly forested area is quite pleasant year-round, but in the spring and early summer it fills with a riot of colorful wildflowers that are a delight to behold.
Ahead, the trail comes to an intersection with the Cape Horn Falls Overlook Trail
, which is a short and worthwhile detour to see the falls from above. Continuing on, the trail steeply switchbacks to a long shelf perched above the river.
Not to be outdone, the shelf offers its own perspective of the river, as well as Cape Horn Falls, before connecting onto the public Cape Horn Road
. This public road gently climbs through fields and trees as it returns toward the trailhead. At a little over a mile, look for the Cape Horn Connector
on the left that leads under the highway and back to the parking area.
This content was contributed by Debbie Asakawa and the Friends of the Columbia Gorge. To find more hikes they recommend and to learn about their efforts to support the Columbia Gorge, click here