Like most eastern Gorge trails, this route has several patches of poison oak that you'll need to watch for, and you should check for ticks when you get home. Long pants are essential for this trip.
The trip begins at the Mitchell Point Trailhead. Take a paved path heading into the trees uphill until it begins to follow an old road, then quickly veer to the right onto the main trail. The route curves gently but briefly through forest before beginning the steep climb. You'll notice a prominent trail heading straight from the last switchback before you reach the open talus slopes of Mitchell Point—this will be your side-trip to Mitchell Spur on your return. The main trail continues past several switchbacks traversing open talus slopes before curving back into forest and another switchback, then to a brushy powerline corridor. From here, the trail climbs under the powerlines for a short distance, leaving the corridor at the crest of a saddle and heading directly up the south ridge of Mitchell Point. Hiking poles will be especially helpful along this final stretch where loose scrabble can make the steep path slick. Wildflowers bloom here in spring and summer, including grass widows in late March and early April.
Soon, pass dramatic cliffs and ever-expanding views as you reach the rocky plug that forms the summit of Mitchell Point. This is a good spot to stop and enjoy the view—the cliffs beyond are dangerous should not be explored. After taking in the view, carefully descend the summit ridge and retrace your path to the side path just beyond the talus slopes. This trail is easy to follow as it descends to a low saddle below Mitchell Spur. From here, the path gets faint, but the route is obvious—just make your way to the open summit straight ahead, which is dotted with wildflowers in spring and summer. From the top of Mitchell Spur, you will have more views, including the imposing pinnacle of Mitchell Point, towering above you. To complete the hike, follow the side path back to the main trail, and follow it back to the parking area.
- Hike descriptions were collaboratively written with the generous support of oregonhikers.org.
Driving DirectionsMitchell Point Trailhead: Traveling east on I-84, take Exit #58/Mitchell Point Overlook (eastbound exit only). Traveling west on I-84, continue past Exit #58/Mitchell Point Overlook to Exit #56/Viento. Turn around here and head east.
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)
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)