New Loops, New Hikes, New Views in the Columbia River Gorge
Thanks to a partnership between Washington Trails Association and Friends of the Columbia Gorge Land Trust, the trail system at the land trust’s Lyle Cherry Orchard Preserve has been improved.
Thanks to a partnership between Washington Trails Association and Friends of the Columbia Gorge Land Trust, the trail system at the land trust’s Lyle Cherry Orchard Preserve has been improved. The lower part of the trail is now less treacherous, the work has opened up new vistas from this beautiful area in the eastern Columbia River Gorge, and new areas are now hikeable.
This project involves the development of two new loop trails that build upon the original trail. The Cherry Orchard Loop Trail is already open, providing new viewpoints and an additional 0.6 mile of trail through unique oak forests and rugged landscapes.
The work was delayed for several months by the pandemic, but now small groups of WTA volunteers have been constructing another loop at the Cherry Orchard Preserve: the Lyle Loop Trail, which will access the preserve’s northwest corner. This loop construction will provide an additional 2 miles of new trail, as well as feature views from a higher elevation than the Cherry Orchard Loop.
The loops are designed to be hiked in one direction, which means hikers won’t have to pass each other as often and the trail won’t feel as busy. The Cherry Orchard Loop is clockwise, and the new Lyle Loop is counterclockwise.
This project ties in nicely with WTA’s Trails Rebooted work, which aims to support and expand hiking opportunities in popular areas. The trails at the Lyle Cherry Orchard Preserve add options for hikers in the extremely popular Columbia River Gorge. The work also increases the sustainability of the trail by reducing the grade of the trail and adding those one-way loops. This also means trails will hold up longer with less maintenance.
WTA crews have put in more than 3,475 total hours of work on the site. In November alone, over just 4 days, crews put in 1,000 feet of new tread. A particular challenge for the trail builders was a section of thick grass. “I do not think I have ever worked in such a difficult area in all my volunteer time with WTA,” said Tom Griffith, WTA volunteer crew leader.
Luckily for Tom and the other volunteers, the work continued at a much faster pace when the volunteers finished with the grass section.
The Lyle Loop Trail is now open.