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Cape Horn Loop

Intermediate/Difficult
 3.9 (25) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

Abundant views, overlooks, and early season wildflowers make this moderate hike a winner.


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Map Key

6.7

Miles

10.9

KM

Loop

1,297' 395 m

High

179' 54 m

Low

1,344' 410 m

Up

1,345' 410 m

Down

8%

Avg Grade (4°)

32%

Max Grade (18°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

The portion of this hike from below the Cape Horn Falls Overlook to where the Cape Horn Trail connects with Cape Horn Road is closed each year from February 1 through July 15 for nesting falcons.

Overview

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.

Need to Know

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.

Description

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.

Contacts

Shared By:

Eric Ashley

Trail Ratings

  3.9 from 25 votes

#756

Overall
  3.9 from 25 votes
5 Star
24%
4 Star
44%
3 Star
32%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#55

in Washington

#756

Overall
174 Views Last Month
5,791 Since Oct 14, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult

0%
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67%
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33%
0%

Photos

The Columbia River Gorge in the spring.
Oct 14, 2016 near Bridal…, OR
Cape Horn Loop Rocky Trail on Lower Section
Jan 1, 2019 near Washougal, WA
Cape Horn Loop Lower Section Lookout
Jan 1, 2019 near Bridal…, OR
Cape Horn Loop Lookout
Jan 1, 2019 near Washougal, WA
Cape Horn Loop Lookout
Jan 1, 2019 near Washougal, WA
Cape Horn Loop Waterfall on lower section.
Jan 1, 2019 near Washougal, WA

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Check-Ins

Dec 28, 2019
Jennifer Jahncke
Beautiful hike. Muddy for a ways but we got by with just normal hiking shoes. The rocky portion is not for those with weak ankles! 7.9mi — 3h 35m
Nov 30, 2019
Beth Wright
Oct 10, 2019
Brianna Zink
Aug 31, 2019
Gina Roche-Brown
Aug 14, 2019
Steve Heller
7mi — 2h 10m
Jun 11, 2019
Trent Sullivan
Mar 16, 2019
Chuck Henderson
Mar 13, 2019
Mark H
Trail is muddy. Icy on the North side of the ridge. No crampons necessary; waterproof boots with good traction are fine. Great hike! 8mi — 4h 00m