hike: Columbia Gorge – Indian Point loop
For this loop hike, we started at the Herman Creek trailhead, about 2 miles east of Cascade Locks, Oregon. This area has a lot of trail options, including a connection to the Pacific Crest Trail, a hike to interesting pinnacles, several waterfalls, and more. For this day, however, we did a conditioning hike with lots of elevation gain. It was a cloudy day, with fog obscuring the views but providing a mystical feel in the forest. About halfway through our hike, it started raining and it never let up.
Distance: 8.2 miles roundtrip
Elevation gain: 3,000 ft
We started on the Herman Creek trail, passing the junction for Gorton Creek Trail (which would be part of our loop hike), and continued for another 1/10 mile to the Nick Eaton Way trail. Doing the loop in this direction gets the hardest part out of the way (the Nick Eaton Way trail is steep!), with a much easier descent on the Gorton Creek trail.
Take the Nick Eaton Way trail up for about 2 miles to the Ridge Cutoff Trail.
A short distance from the trail junction is an old large stone trail sign. They don’t make them like this anymore.
Going up. And up.
Interesting moss-covered trees with lichens hanging like holiday tinsel.
Photos never show how steep a trail is…
An open area partway up with wildflower meadows.
We stood here for several minutes watching the nearby ridges appear and disappear in the clouds. The wind picked up and it got much colder. This was right before it started raining lightly.
Near the top of the ridge, the forest had a mystical quality with the thick fog.
Trail junction: Nick Eaton Way goes to the right, we took the Ridge Cutoff Trail to the left for just under a mile to a junction with the Gorton Creek Trail.
Just past the Gorton Creek junction, take a side trail for 2/10 mile down to Indian Point. This section is quite steep, and slippery in the rain. At Indian Point, all we could see was fog everywhere. Occasionally, we would get a peek-a-boo view of the surroundings. Be extremely careful if you decide to go out to Indian Point. The sides drop over 1,000 feet and a fall here would be fatal.
A faint view through the trees of a nearby ridge.
Eating lunch at the Gorton Creek trail junction.