Invigorating Outdoor Fun -Columbia River Gorge part 3
Interspersed with our scenic drives were outdoor activities that we like to do when available in areas we visited. Indeed there are an abundance of recreation opportunities at the gorgeous Gorge that should not be missed. The Gorge is the playground for windsurfers, white-water rafters and hikers from all over the world. It also happens to be one of the nation’s premier road biking destinations. We got it made! We are so thrilled that we can do our favorite outdoor activities with sunny days and awesome weather to boot. So what did we do? We hiked, we biked, we went wine and beer touring. How about that!
We learned that every trail in the Gorge offers the opportunity to view stunning scenery, so our first bike ride on our wedding anniversary was to take the Historic Columbia River State Trail (West end). This trail is the restored portion of the historic highway meant for bikes and pedestrian usage only. We began at Exit 40 and after 2 miles encountered to our surprise, stairs ! (We realized on our ride back that the stairway has a narrow groove specially designed for pushing bikes smoothly up or down the stairs). This trail took us to the Eagle Creek Recreation area and across the Eagle Creek Bridge (the only stone-masonry faced concrete bridge on the Highway), and a tunnel. As we pedaled along, we observed how the narrow highway was carved out of sheer cliffs, and the guardrails and beautifully arched rock masonry wall. History played a role on this trail as the Ford Model T in the early 1900’s also rolled through here during that time.
The Riverfront Trail at The Dalles (East end) winds along the southern bank of the Columbia River for ten miles between The Discovery Center to the northwest and The Dalles Dam Visitor Center at the eastern terminus. On this trail, blackberries and ligonberries were abundant. It was much drier in this region.
The hike to the popular Eagle Creek Trail is the quintessential trail in the Columbia River Gorge, where we saw two waterfalls – Metlako Falls and Punch Bowl waterfalls. As we mentioned in part 1, tall basalt cliffs, ubiquitous talus slopes, and the lush temperate rain forests that so characterize the Pacific Northwest were present here. This was our favorite hiking trail in the Gorge.
Our final hike was at the Klickitat Trail (WA side), which is an easy trail that follows the nationally designated Wild & Scenic Klickitat River. As expected, the trip was beautiful with stunning river views and carved canyons, birds, wildflowers and blackberries. Fall colors were starting to show on the trees on the hillsides.
Beer lovers may know Hood River is home to Full Sail Brewing Company, one of the early microbrewery pioneers. Since we like beer, we went for a tour and some samples.
Lastly, vineyards are plentiful and with that knowledge we also went wine tasting. We visited several wineries – Cor Cellars and Syncline Winery on the Washington side; Wy East Vineyards and Mt Hood Winery on the Oregon Side. The eastern vineyards we visited are characterized by a continental high desert climate with just 10″ of annual rainfall but plentiful sunshine to ripen the Zins and the Cabs that we tasted.
And so at the end of the seventh day we were ready to slow down and relax after all these fun and invigorating activities.