New Columbia Gorge Guidebook Hits the Trail
I love guidebooks! And I'm holding one right now that is so new that you can still smell the ink.
It's Craig Romano's Day Hiking Columbia River Gorge (Mountaineers Books), and the timing couldn't be more perfect: wildflowers are just appearing on trails all along the Washington side of the Gorge and waterfalls are raging on the Oregon side.
What makes this guidebook different than all of the others that cover the Columbia River Gorge? One clear distinction is that it devotes equal attention to both Washington and Oregon. Most guidebooks for this area are 80% Oregon, and while I would never short-change the beauty of Oregon's waterfalls and lush forests, hikers are really missing something if they don't explore the Washington side of this National Scenic Area.
In a recent interview with Craig Romano, he noted the spectacular Gorge views and the abundant and diverse wildflowers as particular highlights for the Washington side of the Gorge. And because the Washington side is south-facing, spring comes earlier there than just about anywhere else in the region.
One other distinguishing characteristic about Day Hiking Columbia River Gorge is that it is truly comprehensive. It offers 22 hikes in and around the Portland/Vancouver metro areas, several in the Silver Star Scenic Area and Trapper Creek Wilderness, and follows the Gorge for its entire journey along the Oregon - Washington border, incorporating a few fine trails east of The Dalles as well.
Many of the hikes in Washington are not covered by other guidebooks. These are newly-developed trails on both public land and lands purchased recently by land trusts. "Some of the best kept secrets in the Columbia Gorge are on the Washington side. And in the last ten years, most of the new purchases for property and trails in the Scenic Area have been on the Washington side," Romano told me.
I hiked three of these trails (Swale Canyon, Klickitat River Trail and the Lyle Cherry Orchard) with Craig Romano a year ago while he was doing research for this book and blogged about them then. Those hikes have me trying to figure out a way to get back to the Gorge again this spring to explore further. I have a bucket list that includes Cape Horn, Catherine Creek, Hardy Ridge and the Weldon Wagon Road.
So what are you waiting for? Get this guidebook and the new Green Trails map for the region, and plan a spring trip to the Columbia River Gorge. Most of these hikes are no more than a half hour to an hour away from either Portland or Vancouver. Or stay in Hood River or The Dalles. Day Hiking Columbia River Gorge is retailing for $18.95 and is available at most bookstores or directly from Mountaineers Books.
And once you're done with your hikes, please return here to write a Trip Report. We always need reports from the Columbia Gorge area.