Almost exactly two years after the initial outbreak of COVID-19 paused Friends’ in-person events, I am ecstatic to announce the return of Friends’ outdoor program this spring. Programming will return just in time for the spring and summer season, kicking off March 24. It’s almost time to register for an event and hit Columbia Gorge trails with us.
After being at Friends for nearly two years, I am happy to finally be able to create events for our supporters and the public to enjoy. Building a large, diverse cross-section of public support is critical if we are to preserve the Gorge for future generations. As in years past, we're planning for several outdoor activities open to any interested members of the public as well as some reserved for Friends' members. And we also are looking to expand offerings past just traditional hikes to offer additional opportunities—including bike rides, paddles, art & nature events etc.
For this spring-summer outing season, we aim to rebuild community in our outdoor program and create a positive, joyful, and welcoming atmosphere at each outing so that whether you have been hiking with Friends for years, or if it’s your first time going out with us, you will feel like this is a space where you are meant to be. We're also looking at new ways to deepen Gorge community connections to our outdoor programs; partner with BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and other historically marginalized community groups on special, joint-outings; and support efforts to responsibly manage recreation impacts on the Gorge such as our Multnomah to Wahkeena Falls Loop Hike via the Columbia Gorge Express outing offered in partnership with GOrge Pass where all participants will be riding the Columbia Gorge Express in order to not add to Gorge congestion this spring and summer.
Details and registration for these guided outings will be online at gorgefriends.org/hikes. Friends will roll out these outings in small batches throughout the spring and summer, so check our event calendar often to see new outings. (If you’re not already subscribed to our Hiking eNews, we recommend you do so to be kept up to date.) The first batch of outings will be released on Friends’ event calendar on Monday, March 7 at 11 a.m. (Pacific).
All of Friends’ events this season will require participants to be vaccinated. We also expect all participants to follow our COVID-19 protocols put in place to keep all participants and Gorge communities safe. Check out Friends’ COVID-19 FAQ for more information on our event protocols.
We know many of you are so excited to see the return of Friends’ hikes and outdoor programs. However, we ask that you please limit your registration for no more than two events for this spring and summer season. We want to ensure that as many people as possible get an opportunity to sign up for at least one of the events since the number of outings will be limited. We thank you in advance for this consideration.
And thank you so much for your continued support and interest in the return of our outdoor program. Our staff and dedicated volunteer hike leaders and shepherds look forward to connecting with you all and meeting new faces on the trails. As a lover of the outdoors who loves to connect with people, I really look forward to meeting new faces, and exploring the Gorge with many of you.