Hiking in the Columbia Gorge – Wildflowers along Mosier Twin Tunnels

I have already written and published the first two blogs related to my hike over the weekend along the part of the restored Historic Columbia Gorge Highway that goes between Hood River and Mosier, including the Twin Tunnels, containing their windows out across the gorge. The last part was to discuss the wildflowers that were blooming at the time (April 10th 2011). This year has been a cold wet year and it appears as if everything is substantially behind where it should be for this time of year, so I suspect what I saw would normally be the blooms for late March.

I thought this would be an easy blog to write. I had lots of great pictures of wildflowers and all I had to do was identify them. I even had a book Wildflowers of the Columbia Gorge, written by Russ Jolley from 1988. The book had very good reviews on Amazon, so I eagerly awaited it. I have to say I am very disappointed with it. This is book written by people who already know these plants. For me trying to identify them it is close to impossible. It only shows fuzzy pictures of the flowers and does not include details of the plant itself or the leaves. To try and locate something I have to start at the beginning and search through all the photos. They are in “botanical” order. While I have identified or knew a few, most remain elusive – so please help me out if you what they are.

The flowers changes along the hike as the elevation changed and as I moved from the wet side to the dry side. Here are four that I saw in the early part of the hike close to Hood River. I believe they are “Grass Widow”, “Lewisia” and a flowering current “Ribes”. The forth one in this section is unknown to me.

The next two were growing in the basalt cliffs, and although very different I believe they are both types of Heuchera. Clearly the second one is not in bloom yet, but the leaf colors are just as good. By the lake, a few clumps of shooting stars were seen.

Two flowers dominated the next section of the trail. The first is, I believe, the Columbia Desert Parsley and the second is the Glacier Lily.

Right before the tunnels were a mass of what I think are Buttercups (Ranunculus).

Coming out of the tunnels were another kind of Dessert Parsley with yellow flowers mixed in with the Columbia Dessert Parsleys and another plant that I don’t have a clue about.

Please accept my apologies if I have incorrectly identified these plants. If you know what they are please leave a comment so that other visitors will know for certain.


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