Hiking the Columbia Gorge: McCall Point

I have written about the Tom McCall Preserve in the past and the wildflowers on the plateau. To get there take I84 east from Portland and exit at Mosier. Here you join the Historic Columbia Gorge Highway. Continue along this road until you come to the Rowena Summit. From here there are two directions you can go. You can go out on the plateau or you can head up if it is May through October. The other months of the year this trail to McCall peak is closed in order to help preserve the trail and the area.

Hiking up to the top is a fair climb through open grasslands and low growing oak forests. If it is not windy, then just take a look at many of the trees to understand how windy it can get, and on my hike it certainly was. At times you could lean into it and it would support you. It is about a 2 mile hike up with about a 1000ft elevation gain. Plan on setting a pace of about 1 ½ mph.

Great views of the Gorge are available almost all the way up to the peak, and there were plenty of wildflowers everywhere. Fairly soon, as you get above the large field of flowing grasses, you start to see Mt St. Adams peeking above the hills on the far side of the Gorge and the town of Lyle on the Washington side.

At some points the trail becomes really narrow, which gives it a very intimate feel. At other points you can look down on the Rowena curves.

The higher you climb, the better the views get. When you see Mt Hood you don’t have far to go till you reach the top. There you will find an abundance of wildflowers and lots of places to sit, have a bite to eat and enjoy the mountains before heading back down. While going down is a lot quicker, it is also more treacherous, so mind your footing.

Brought to you by Brian Bailey

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