Imagine a loop trail around the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area benefitting wildlife, hikers, and Gorge communities.
Picture yourself lacing up your boots for a Gorge hike--except this time, the day hike with great views and wildflowers becomes a multi-day adventure trekking from temperate rainforests into sagebrush grasslands. Step by step, you discover never seen waterfalls and viewpoints tucked deep into the recesses of the Gorge and stop at wineries and orchards as you fully immerse yourself in the Gorge’s five distinct ecological zones. At the end of each day’s hike, rather than heading home, you’re rewarded with great local food, wine or hand-crafted beer, and a night’s rest at a comfy bed and breakfast, lodge, or hotel. What was a day hike to remember becomes an unforgettable multi-day journey.
Gorge Towns to Trails is the only Gorge-wide project to benefit habitat, recreation, and economic development. The project's goals are:
- Create new trails, opening hidden vistas and waterfalls to Gorge recreation users;
- Protect more lands to benefit wildlife;
- Support Gorge communities by connecting trails to towns; and
- Encourage sustainable recreation through alternative transportation options
With towns typically five to fifteen miles apart and separated by largely undeveloped areas, the project offers opportunities to protect undeveloped areas and create a European-style trekking model unachievable in most parts of the United States. Creating a 200-mile loop trail around the Gorge requires land (either publicly owned or held by land trusts) and trails. Nearly 80% of the necessary land corridor miles are already secured and 46% of the trail miles needed are in place. Friends of the Columbia Gorge launched its vision by focusing on three segments totaling 66 miles and benefiting seven Gorge communities: Washougal to Stevenson, Hood River to The Dalles, and the Lyle Cherry Orchard. Within these areas, 93% of the land corridors are secured and 35% of the trail miles are in place.
Gorge Towns to Trails addresses a long-held frustration among Gorge businesses. With its close proximity to Portland, most Gorge hikers visit for the day and never enter the communities. Gorge Towns to Trails creates a new paradigm: hikers taking extended multi-day journeys, lodging in Gorge communities and sampling the best of the Gorge: fresh fish from the Columbia River, fruits from its world-renowned Hood River Valley, wine from one of the Gorge’s 19 wineries and beer from any of its 18 local breweries. Such a trail system could move the Gorge beyond a day-use recreation area to a multi-day destination spot for national and international travelers.
Experience a Gorge Towns to Trails getaway with one of our Play & Stay weekends!
Current Project StatusUpdate Spring 2017:
- Thanks to Travel Oregon, the Angell Family Foundation, and Mayer Reed for their help in bringing Gorge Towns to Trails to life through the creation of the new video (click on image at top of this page) that provides the current status of the project. Over the past five years, Friends has led the charge in making Gorge Towns to Trails a reality. Now it’s bigger than just one organization, with over 100 supporters and Gorge communities integrating the vision into their city plans for the future.
- Bonneville Trails Foundation, a new trail advocacy group with a vision to “ make North Bonneville a destination trail access hub within the Columbia River Gorge” is partnering with Friends to create trails heading west, north and east. To learn more about these efforts, read this article published in the Camas-Washougal Post Record.
- Gorge Towns to Trails has been prioritized by Travel Oregon’s Outdoor Recreation Initiative as one of the top recreation projects in the 15-year vision that was created over the last year by 25 members representing key outdoor recreation stakeholders (including Friends Executive Director Kevin Gorman).
View Gorge Towns to Trails map and learn more about the three current campaign areasLearn More
Become a Supporter, Partner, & Business Member
Join our growing list of supporters, partners, and business members.Learn More
Experience Gorge Towns to Trails Now
You don’t have to wait until Gorge Towns to Trails is complete to experience it now.Learn How
The Mosier Connection
Watch a video and learn the history of the first completed trail segment of Gorge Towns to Trails project.Learn More