Larch Mountain Crater Loop
Western Gorge, Oregon
Old growth forest on Larch Mountain (photographer: Oliver Dalton)
Hike Details
Type:
Loop
Distance:
7 miles round trip
Elevation Gain:
1100 feet
Difficulty:
Moderate
Trail Features
Family Friendly:
No
Restrooms:
Yes
Trailhead Pass:
Trail Details
Wildflowers
This hike starts at the Larch Mountain Trailhead (#441), at the southwest corner of the parking lot. This area of the Columbia Gorge trails is one of the few open to mountain bikes, although it doesn't seem to see a lot of use. You'll start by passing through a campground, then drop down somewhat steeply through a dense forest, and cross a closed road and a large campsite.
 
Two miles down, turn right on to the Multnomah Creek Way Trail (#444). Continue down to a log bridge over Multnomah Creek, 0.2 miles from the trail junction. Just across the bridge, take Multnomah Creek Spur Trail (#446), then stay to the right and continue on Multnomah Creek Way Trail (#444), traveling upstream. Pass through an area that was once a lake, but has filled in with natural sediments to create a wetland.
 
The trail continues up switchbacks to the crater wall and an old logging railroad grade. It continues on about one mile to a junction with Oneonta Trail (#424); turn right and head up Oneonta Trail (#424) for almost a mile to Larch Mountain Road. Turn right here and hike up the road for 0.3 of a mile to your car.
 
- Hike descriptions were collaboratively written with the generous support of oregonhikers.org.

Driving Directions

Larch Mountain Trailhead:  From the west, travel east on I-84 to exit #18/Lewis and Clark State Park.At the end of the off-ramp, turn left (south) onto the Historic Columbia River Highway and follow the highway through Corbett. Two miles east of Corbett, the road forks. Take a right onto Larch Mountain Road and follow the road 14 miles to the picnic area and trailhead. From the east, take I-84 west to Exit #22, Corbett Exit/NE Corbett Hill Road. Follow NE Corbett Hill Road until it intersects with East Historic Columbia River Highway. Turn left onto the Historic Highway and travel 5 miles until the road forks. Take a right onto Larch Mountain road and follow the road 14 miles to the picnic area and trailhead. Generally from November - June, the road is closed about halfway up the mountain at the snow gate.

Community Connection

Lyle Cherry Orchard’s trailhead is located approximately one mile from the Gorge town of Lyle and is home to the “Lyle” sign that sits above the community. Since this preserve was opened to the public the Lyle Cherry Orchard has provided the community with an accessible natural space right in their back yard. The sunny and dry preserve is the perfect hiking spot to visit during the rainier fall days in the western gorge. Visitors from the Gorge and beyond recreate on Lyle Cherry Orchard and in turn support the local economy.

Photo: View of town of Lyle from Lyle Cherry Orchard (Debbie Asakawa)

Preserve Story

The property where Lyle Cherry Orchard Preserve lies currently was once grazing land for cattle and as the name suggests the eastern part of the preserve held a cherry orchard. The orchard and its trees were well abandoned by the time Nancy Russell purchased the property piece by piece in the 1990’s and later donated it to Friends in 2009. Nancy purchased the property when it came up for sale because it was within key viewing areas on the Oregon side of the Gorge and would have most likely become subdivided for development.

The land is also home to remnants of Lyle Convict Road, a demonstration road built by Sam Hill to convince Washington legislators to fund a Columbia River Highway. When Washington showed no interest in Sam’s project, he invited the entire Oregon legislature to his Maryhill estate to see his "Good Roads" work and Oregon quickly agreed to build on their side of the river what is today the Historic Columbia River Highway.

The trail at Lyle Cherry Orchard was started in when Friends' founder Nancy Russell purchased the property and has been open to the public and maintained Friends and its land trust ever since. In 2019, Washington Trails Association started work to reroute some parts of the trail and add new trail to explore for the benefit of Gorge residents.

In 2013, the land trust and volunteers removed a dilapidated house and outbuildings on the southwestern end of the property. Countless hours were spent removing building materials, old vehicles, garbage, and debris. In 2015 volunteers removed over 1,700 feet of fencing material on the property to allow for the free movement of wildlife across the landscape. Without the help of Friends volunteers and Gorge community members, projects like this would not be possible.

Photos: Before and after cleanup at Lyle Cherry Orchard (Friends' archive)