Fort Cascades Loop
Central Gorge, Washington
Springtime view along the Fort Cascades loop trail. (photographer: Micheal Drewry)
Hike Details
Type:
Loop
Distance:
1.5 miles round trip
Elevation Gain:
0 feet
Difficulty:
Easy
Trail Features
Family Friendly:
Yes
Restrooms:
Yes
Trailhead Pass:
No
Trail Details
Cultural HistoryCultural HistoryIce Age FloodsIce Age Floods
COVID-19 advisory from our partner Ready, Set, GOrge! (readysetgorge.com): 

Increased visitation puts increased pressure on the Gorge’s limited resources.  If you’re planning a trip to the Gorge region, please help keep our communities safe by following CDC and local health guidelines and respecting the requests of individual businesses. Please plan before you go and always have a Plan B in case your destination is too crowded or closed. When recreating on trails, maintain at least 6 feet of distance from other hikers and bikers.
 



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On the Trail

This easy 1.5-mile loop downstream of Bonneville Dam is on flat ground next to the river. You’ll walk the site of an ancient portage controlled by Native Americans, in an area that later became a U.S. Army fort, the town of Cascades (1850¬–1894), and a fish cannery.

Permits & Pets

This site is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. No permits are required. Dogs must be on leash.

Trail Notes

  • You may want to download the Fort Cascades Trail Guide, which offers excellent information about the sites encountered on the loop. There may be guides at the trailhead, as well.
  • Stay on the trail to avoid poison oak, common in this area.
  • Please always stay on the trail and clean your boots before and after you hike. Hikers and their dogs are common vectors for spreading invasive seeds.
  • Restrooms are at the trailhead, at the end of the parking lot.

History

When the Table Mountain Slide occurred in late prehistoric times, it created the cascades of the Columbia River and ensured that people frequented this area. Native Americans used the cascades as a fishing area for millennia and became trading partners with later European and early American travelers. Lewis and Clark mention an Indian Village on this site.

In 1855, the U.S. Army claimed land in the area and built Fort Cascades, one of several forts it used to control the portage route. The fort was burned in 1856, then rebuilt, and eventually abandoned in 1861, as the Army marshaled its resources for the Civil War. The town site was abandoned after the great flood of 1894 washed all the buildings away.

Post-Hike Explorations

Bonneville Lock and Dam Washington Shore Visitor Complex is nearby. There, take a powerhouse tour, watch the fish race up the ladders, and look for sea lions fishing for dinner along the river, just below the dam. To get there, go back to the T intersection and stay straight, along the river. The road leads in 1.3 miles to the parking area for the dam. Don’t miss exploring from a second parking area to the east of the first area. Its beautifully planted perimeter has a short trail with great views; below, along the river’s banks are traditional fishing platforms used by Native Americans.

Additional Hikes at or Near this Trailhead



Directions & Travel Tips

On SR 14, near milepost 38 in North Bonneville, turn onto Dam Access Road. At the T in the road, turn right, then take the first left into the parking area for the Fort Cascades National Historic Site.