hike: Lyle Cherry Orchard
The Lyle Cherry Orchard loop hike offers amazing views of the Columbia River Gorge, and while we were there too early for wildflowers, we didn’t see the ticks, rattlesnakes, or poison oak that are abundant later in the season.
distance: 6.8 miles
elevation gain: 1,350 ft.
drive time from Portland: 1 hour 30 minutes
parking pass: none
hike description: OregonHikers.org – Lyle Cherry Orchard Hike
To see what this area looks like in May when the wildflowers are blooming, view this trip report.
We did both loops on this hike – the smaller Cherry Orchard loop on the east end of the hike, and the Lyle loop on the western end – for a total of 6.8 miles. Most of this trail is unsigned, with several side trails and trail junctions, so it’s helpful to have a map and a route on a GPS device.
From the parking lot, the unsigned trail begins next to a large basalt spire. At times steep and rocky, the trail wastes no time in gaining elevation. At 0.8 miles in, reach a four-way trail junction.
For the Lyle loop, it is recommended by trail managers to hike this section counterclockwise due to the narrowness of the trail in this section. To do this, take the upper trail to the left. The trail to the right will be your return route. Additional side trails (on the lower left) lead to lower viewpoints. However, I got this backwards so we did the trail in the opposite direction and took the trail on the right, which heads up up up across the ridge.
We continued to the smaller Cherry Orchard loop, noting the unsigned trail junction for the Lyle loop that we take on the way back. On the Cherry Orchard loop, we turned right and in about 1/4 mile, took a short side trail for a lunch break with big views of the Columbia River to the west and the east.
After lunch, we continued on the smaller loop through a large open meadow with Ponderosa pines at the eastern end of the loop.
When we reached the unsigned junction we noted earlier, we turned on this less traveled trail for the longer Lyle loop. This section of trail is higher on the ridge we hiked in on. Most of this section is through a dense scrub oak forest, but there are occasional views.
Nearing the western end of the loop, the trail leaves the forest for a short section before descending via switchbacks towards the town of Lyle.
For further exploration, take side trails on the way back that lead towards the town of Lyle above the rimrock.