hike: Tom McCall Point

Each spring, the meadows and hillsides surrounding Tom McCall Point are transformed by wildflowers, with vistas of the Columbia River Gorge dominated by yellow balsamroot, blue lupines, and red paintbrush.

distance: 3.4 miles round trip
elevation gain:  1,070 ft.
difficulty: moderate
best season: March-May
drive time from Portland: 1 hour 30 minutes
parking pass: none
note: dogs are not allowed on this trail

The Hike

Tom McCall Point provides wide open vistas of the Eastern Gorge and overlooks the unique landscape of Rowena Plateau – a place that was shaped by the Ice Age floods, with “kolk” lakes, hummock-like mounds, and eight layers of basalt in the cliffs lining the river.

This trail is on land owned by the Nature Conservancy, and is only open from March 1 to October 31 each year. Note that dogs and bikes are not allowed on the trails in this area, and visitors should beware of ticks, rattlesnakes, and poison oak. Starting in the spring, Nature Conservancy volunteers lead interpretive hikes.

Before the hike, we walked to a viewpoint looking east with I-84 stretching into the distance next to the Columbia River.

Tom McCall Point hike

Heading up towards Tom McCall Point – the hillside on the right.

Tom McCall Point hike

Balsamroot and smallflower woodland stars next to the trail.

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A short side trail leads to this view looking towards the town of Lyle, Washington.

Tom McCall Point hike

As we climbed higher, views to the west open up towards the town of Mosier with the Columbia River in the distance.

Tom McCall Point hike

This section of meadow was filled with balsamroot, larkspur and paintbrush.

Tom McCall Point hike Tom McCall Point hike

Looking down towards Rowena Plateau, while Mount Adams makes an appearance on the horizon.

Tom McCall Point hike Tom McCall Point hike

Early in the season, the white oaks haven’t started leafing out yet.

Tom McCall Point hike Tom McCall Point hike

This view includes a hike I did a few weeks ago on the Washington side of the river at Lyle Cherry Orchard.

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We were planning to add-on a short 2 mile hike at Rowena Plateau but ran out of time and needed to get back home. Next time!