Balfour-Klickitat Loop
Eastern Gorge, Washington
Hiking the Balfour-Klickitat Loop trail (photographer: Debbie Asakawa)
Hike Details
0.75 miles round trip
Elevation Gain:
150 feet
Trail Features
Family Friendly:
Trailhead Pass:
Trail Details
Bird Viewing
A great place to view bald eagles in the winter months! Listen for their call -- up to 10 have been spotted in the oak trees lining the Klickitat River. This is a universal access trail that provides bird watching opportunities all year, and in particular, bald eagles when they congregate in the winter. Most years, a small flock of Canvasbacks takes refuge here. Lewis's Woodpeckers share the pines and oaks with Red and White Breasted Nuthatches. Swallows also thrive here; notably Violet-Green, Rough-Winged, and Cliff. A keynote bird seen here is the Lesser Goldfinch.
The nearby Klickitat River mouth attracts migrating shorebirds, including Semipalmated Plover, Sanderling, and Baird's Sandpiper. California Gull and Caspian Tern are common during spring and summer, while Mew Gull and Common Tern are infrequent visitors. This is a great family and bird-watchers' trail.
We recommend a hike on the Klickitat trail which is on the other (east) side of the Klickitat River.
Once the home of James Lyle, who founded the nearby town bearing his name, and later purported to be owned by England's Lord Balfour, the area gradually devolved into a site for hundreds of junk cars, gravel pits, and even a buffalo pen. The U.S. Forest Service bought the property in the early 1990s and rehabilitated it with the help of Yakama tribal members and other locals. It was then discovered that a back corner of the property was a significant eagle gathering area in the winter. Today, the day-use area is recognized as the Columbia Gorge's best site for viewing wintering bald eagles.

Directions & Travel Tips

Balfour-Klickitat Trailhead:  Cross the Hood River Bridge ($2 toll) into Washington. Turn right/east onto WA Hwy 14. Travel about 10 miles to Old Hwy 8 (County Road 1230) - just before entering the town of Lyle and crossing the bridge over the Klickitat River. Ignore the first junction with Hwy 8 - you want the second junction. (Hwy 8 has two junctions with Hwy 14.) Turn left/north and follow Old Hwy 8 for approximately 1/4 mile to the parking lot on the east side of the road, up on the hillside to your right.