The Project

View Gorge Towns to Trails map and learn more about the three current campaign areas

The Project
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The ultimate vision for Gorge Towns to Trails is a 200-mile trail system wrapping around the Columbia Gorge, connecting small towns, farms, wineries and wild areas together. The vision for a loop trail and trails connecting into communities is imbedded in the National Scenic Area's Management Plan as two of the highest recreation objectives of the plan.

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 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 trails 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 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.

The Gorge Towns to Trails project is currently focusing on these three areas:

Washougal to Stevenson to Cascade Locks:

An opportunity for a 34-mile trail connecting Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge, Cape Horn, Beacon Rock State Park, and the Pacific Crest Trail as well as the communities of Washougal, North Bonneville, Stevenson and Cascade Locks. (View map)

  • Partnered with the Port of Camas-Washougal to develop a new, one-mile trail that will serve as the west entrance for Gorge Towns to Trails
  • Working with Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge to expand the refuge, connect new trail moving east and support refuge restoration efforts
  • Supported by the Cape Horn Conservancy’s board of directors who voted to “preserve, enhance, promote and maintain related public lands within the Washougal to Stevenson corridor as a natural, educational, recreational, and economic assets to Skamania County”

Hood River to The Dalles Trail:

An opportunity for a 20-mile trail connecting the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail, Mosier Plateau, Tom McCall Preserve, Seven Mile Hill and the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, as well as the communities of Hood River, Mosier, and The Dalles. The already-completed section from the town of Mosier’s Pocket Park up to our land trust property, the Mosier Plateau trail, is one step of the way to completing this segment. (View map)

  • Mosier wineries and farms are working to help close the gap needed to connect Mosier to The Dalles, hoping to create a wine/farm loop trail
  • Watch a three-minute Grant's Getaways segment from Spring 2017 about Gorge Towns to Trails featuring Mosier Plateau and Mosier businesses

Underwood to Lyle:

(View map) The Lyle Cherry Orchard, our 515-acre land trust property above Lyle, Washington, will be undergoing a transformation in the coming months. More than four miles of trail will be re-routed and added to the existing five-mile trail system. (Click on the map to see an enlarged version.) Two new loops are planned – one to highlight the site of the long-abandoned namesake cherry orchard and another that wraps around the iconic “Lyle” sign. The trail additions are the product of seven years of careful planning, public engagement and trail plotting. The long-term goal is to connect the trail into Lyle as a key component of Gorge Towns to Trails.
Our project partner Washington Trails Association will hold weekend-long work parties where you can join for a weekend of camping and trail building, or for a single day.
  • Friends’ Land Trust purchased 25 acres adjacent to the Cherry Orchard in our Preserve the Wonder campaign
  • Trail building events with Washington Trails Association are planned for 2020 (stay tuned for work party announcements)

Status of the Larger Vision for Gorge Towns to Trails