Hikers on the Lyle Cherry Orchard (photographer: Debbie Asakawa)
Trail Description Driving DirectionsThe Lyle Cherry Orchard trail starts at the east end of the parking area, against the rocks. The trail starts climbing immediately. About 1/8 of a mile up, you will come to a sign-in box and trailhead sign. This land is owned by Friends of the Columbia Gorge Land Trust. Please sign in and use the boot brush to clean your boots, at the beginning and end of your hike. Yellow starthistle is abundant here. We are taking actions to control it and need your help! We are trying to keep this weed from spreading into the uninfested eastern part of the property
The trail continues to climb up a small draw. After about a mile, the trail splits: the westward trail takes you to a beautiful bench, and the eastward trail leads you up a steep climb with switchbacks to the cherry orchard and summit. This trail passes a seasonal pond, then comes to a dirt road. Turn right and pass an old homestead site and grassy area. Not many cherry trees have survived in the orchard, but some can be found at the eastern edge of the property.
The Big 3 (ticks, rattlesnakes and poison oak) all can be found on the Cherry Orchard trail at different times of the year. Please be aware!
- With its southern exposure and open landscape, the Cherry Orchard trail is one of the best early spring hikes in the Gorge. Best times to hike are February through May (with the peak of the wildflowers being mid-to-late April) and September and October.
- The hike has both great western and eastern views of the Gorge.
- As you climb hundreds of feet up the hillsides facing the Columbia River, look for river pebbles on the trail deposited here by the Ice Age Floods.
To ensure the best experience for you and other hikers please follow these rules:
- Start your hike from the trailhead on HWY 14.
- Stay on designated trails (there are sensitive plants, cliff edges, and private property very close to trails in some areas).
- No motorized vehicles, horses, or bicycles on trails. Steepness and trail construction is designed for pedestrians only plus motorized vehicles could precipitate fires in the summer.
- Smoking and fires are prohibited.
- No hunting (neighbors have requested this and Friends would like as much wildlife as possible on the land).
- Use the boot brush at the beginning and end of your hike so not to bring new weeds on to the site and from spreading those that may have clung to your shoes, equipment, or clothing to new locations.
- Keep dogs on leash (dogs can disturb sensitive areas, disrupt nesting birds, collect ticks and poison oak, and spread noxious weeds)
- From 1997-1999, trailbuilders Daryl Hoyt and Krista Thie did some rerouting and maintenance of the trail for Nancy Russell.
- In 2006 Chinook Trail Association conducted a work party to do trail maintenance in honor of Nancy and Bruce Russell.
- In 2013, the land trust removed a dilapidated house and outbuildings. Check out the before and after photos.
- In 2015, volunteers removed over 1700’ of fencing on the property.
- Yellow starthistle control began in 2015 and major stewardship efforts are planned in the coming years.
History of the Cherry Orchard Property
- This 515-acre property in the eastern Gorge showcases the cake-layered basalt walls carved by the Ice Age Floods.
- Friends' founder Nancy Russell was drawn to its beauty and purchased several properties that today comprise the entire Cherry Orchard property. Check out this video at the 8:53 mark to hear Nancy talk about the property.
- Nancy named the property for an old abandoned cherry orchard at the top of the eastern boundary.
- The land is also home to remnants of 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 the now Historic Columbia River Highway on their side of the river.
- The property is also home to the “Lyle” sign that sits above the community.
- Nancy Russell’s estate bequeathed the Cherry Orchard property to Friends of the Columbia Gorge Land Trust in 2009 to preserve this trail and scenic landscape.
- Type: Out and back
- Distance: 5 miles round trip
- Elevation Gain: 1500 feet
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Family Friendly: No
- Restrooms: No
- Trailhead Pass: No
Gorge Trailhead Passes Guide