October 14 – 17, 2014: Departing Mount St. Helens and the Ape Caves, we headed to the Columbia River Gorge area. The Columbia River Gorge is the largest scenic area in the United States, extending more than 100 miles east of Portland, and consists of a very diverse landscape carving a canyon between Washington and Oregon – it includes rain forest, desert, and alpine meadows.
Our campsite was in White Salmon, Washington which is across the Columbia River, via a toll bridge, from Hood River, Oregon. Hood River is a cute, artsy town and a great town to just walk around. It also has lots of good beer. We had dinner and drinks at Full Sail Brewing Company, pizza and drinks at Double Mountain Brewery & Taproom, and a cheese plate and drinks at pFreim Family Brewing whilst in the Hood River area over the course of two days.
To counteract all the good food and beer, we hiked the Catherine Creek Arch Loop in Washington. This hike included some hills and rocky terrain. The hike is known for its rolling hills of wildflowers but our visit wasn’t in the proper season. The hike gets its name from the rock arch formation that is seen about mid-way through the hike. We found this hike on the website portlandhikersfieldguide.org which was a great resource. We also strolled the paved universal access path across the street for additional views of the Columbia River and visited Panorama Point for views of the gorge and Mount Hood. However, there was too much cloud cover for us to actually see Mount Hood. All of these activities were laid-back and relaxing. We both enjoyed the pace and atmosphere in the Hood River area.
And, we got to enjoy more of the Columbia River Gorge as we headed to Portland via Scenic Route 30 (oldest scenic highway) in Oregon. We explored the vistas and hikes along the way, stopping at all the waterfalls. Our favorite was a hike at Latourelle Falls where we climbed uphill on empty trails to visit the upper falls.