Distance: 9.2 miles
Location: Eastern Columbia River Gorge: Lyle, Washington
On spring days, the Eastern Columbia River Gorge can be a good destination to escape the rain in Portland and head to the sun. With a newly developed trailhead just off highway 14 in Lyle, Washington, this hike is on an old rail corridor. The first 1.5 miles are next to the highway without open views of the river, so I would recommend driving another 1.5 miles to park on either side of the pedestrian bridge. We hiked four miles out and back, with another 1.2 miles of backtracking and exploring to find out if another trail existed lower along the river in the first 1.5 mile section. There is a side trail, but it leads to small fishing paths before ending a short distance later. Back on the main trail, there are mile markers at every mile along the trail, and it’s very easy to follow without a map.
At the converted railroad bridge over the river, there are great views looking far below to the Klickitat River Gorge, with wooden platforms that Native Americans use for dip netting the salmon that run this river. After the bridge, the trail is along the fast moving river most of the way. The drier and scrubby looking landscape here is quite different from the western side of Washington, with large rounded hills, pines and oak trees, making it look much like the old wild west familiar in western cowboy movies.