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Columbia Hills State Park - Horsethief Butte

Southwest Washington

Horsethief Butte, one part of the expansive Columbia Hills State Historical Park, is composed of hexagonal columns of Wanapum basalt flows that were scoured by the Ice Age floods some 10,000 years ago. Rock climbers are attracted to the sheer cliff faces but hikers and scramblers will find a marked route to the summit. Continue reading

Location

Southwest Washington -- Columbia River Gorge - WA
Jump to Map & Directions

Length

1.2 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 200 ft.
Highest Point: 498 ft.

Rating

3.67 out of 5

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  • Wildflowers/Meadows
  • Mountain views
  • Wildlife
  • Summits
  • Good for kids
  • Dogs allowed on leash
  • Rivers

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass

Columbia Hills State Historical Park includes Horsethief Butte, a prominent landmark along the Columbia River and a favorite among rock climbers of all abilities. This trailhead offers a short hike to sweeping views of the Columbia River and Mount Hood on the plateau around the base. Rock climbers are attracted to the sheer cliff faces of the butte  but hikers and scramblers will find a marked route to the summit.

Wildlflowers bloom around the base of Horsethief Butte in the spring, including grass widows, death camas and the pungent smell of Klickitat desert parsley. Swallows dart overhead, while larger birds of prey -- like eagles and falcons -- soar on air currents high above your head for wildlife viewing. Turkey vultures float on the thermals rising from the sun-heated rocks. Listen for the songs of canyon wrens and rock wrens from the cliffs.

Beware of poison oak and rattlesnakes, and the basalt cliffs can become blazing hot under the summer sun, so spring is the best time to visit.

The short hike is a great option for families looking for a way to spend a summer afternoon, a nice leg stretch on a long road trip, or a way to further explore all the Columbia River Gorge has to offer.

Although older hiking guides in print and online may provide directions to hike all the way around the base of Horsethief Butte, State Parks has closed those route with fences and signs. 

Hike by WTA Community
Multiple authors contributed to this report

Columbia Hills State Park - Horsethief Butte

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 45.6507, -121.0992 Open in Google Maps

Trailhead

Southwest Washington -- Columbia River Gorge - WA

Washington State Parks

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: Columbia River Gorge (Romano - Mountaineers Books)

Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Hood River

http://parks.state.wa.us/DocumentCenter/View/1852

http://parks.state.wa.us/DocumentCenter/View/1851

Getting There

From Vancouver, take SR 14 east through Lyle to the junction with US 197. (From The Dalles, take exit 87 off I-84 onto US 197 and cross the Columbia River, driving north 3.3 miles to the junction with SR 14.) Continue east on SR 14 for 2.8 miles to the signed trailhead parking area on the south side of the highway. Vault toilet, picnic table and garbage can available.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass
 

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Columbia Hills State Park - Horsethief Butte

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