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Columbia Hills State Park

Mar 02, 2013

by Sunrise Creek last modified Nov 12, 2013 11:01 AM
Type of Outing
Day hike
Read More in our Hiking Guide
Hike: Columbia Hills State Park
Region: South Cascades -- Columbia Gorge
Agency: Washington State Parks
Avg Rating: 3.75
Why You Should Go Now
Wildflowers blooming
Grass Widows exhibit some color variations, including purple-and-white striped and all white flowers. Photo by Susan Saul
We found 20 species of wildflowers in bloom and saw about a dozen bird species during our 5-mile loop hike.

Columbia Hills State Park is a wonderful place to roam across acres of rolling grasslands, rimrock, draws and canyons. Unlike the Columbia Hills Natural Area Preserve on Stacker Butte, hikers are not restricted to roads on the state park lands.

The Columbia Hills SP map is online here http://www.parks.wa.gov/par[…]ia%20Hills&subject=maps Be sure to know where you are and stay on state park lands; avoid straying onto adjacent private lands.

Despite hiking there for years, we continue to find new places to explore. This time we started at the site of the future Crawford Oaks trailhead (Discover Pass required) and hiked up Eightmile Canyon, then east across the hills to the east park boundary and returned via the benches above SR 14.

We saw pin flags and survey posts marking a proposed mountain bike-equestrian trail. I worry that introducing mountain bikers and their dogs will put a lot of disturbance pressure on the deer herds that use the park lands. We also are concerned that the new trails do not result in mountain bikers and equestrians straying into and damaging the wonderful wildflower glades that have recovered from a century of livestock grazing or affect ground-nesting birds like meadowlarks and horned larks.

If you are feeling adventuresome, explore the Columbia Hills.
Smooth Prairie Stars bloom is really getting underway. Get down close to admire the delicate, deeply cleft petals. Photo by Susan Saul
Yellow Bells is a favorite early lily of the prairies. The flowers do not last long; as they age, they turn orange or brick-red. Photo by Susan Saul
Gold Stars are a small annual that cover the ground on bare slopes or short-grass prairies and cliff ledges. Photo by Susan Saul
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Thank you! :)!

Posted by Bob and Barb at Mar 05, 2013 12:08 PM
Thank you for the report and beautiful flower pictures! Makes me want to head that way! :)!

Question!

Posted by Bob and Barb at Mar 07, 2013 11:40 PM
Did you start at the parking area by the metal gate that takes you to 8 Mile Falls or the TH about 0.5 miles west with the parking area on he south side?

Thank you in advance!

Re: Question

Posted by Sunrise Creek at Mar 07, 2013 11:40 PM
Yes, we started at the 8-Mile Canyon trailhead on the north side of SR 14. In the park's master plan, this site is called Crawford Oaks and there are plans to develop a trailhead parking area and restrooms here.

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