#37 in the Northwest Book, February 9, 2010; Moderate – 7 mile loop, 1300 feet elevation gain
Called a “diamond in the rough” this incredible trail takes you way up onto Cape Horn then all the way down near the river. I (Becky) and Margaret still consider this to be one of our favorite hikes.
Between mile posts 26 and 27 on Highway 14 outside of Washougal, there is now a paved parking area with restroom to get you started. Hikers wind up through the forest to the first of several cliff-side, sweeping views of the Columbia River. The trail then meanders down an old forest road and through a grassy field before heading back into the woods. For the adventure portion of the hike you actually have to cross Highway 14, but it’s down to two lanes at that point.
The trail then descends and roller-coasters up and down. River-side cliffs, waterfalls (even one you walk behind), and amazing and unexpected viewpoints show up in this second half. The last 1.3 miles are quite boring, as you are required to hike back to the parking area along the paved Cape Horn Road, but it makes for a good chance to soak in and ruminate on the previous 6 scenic miles.
Can you believe this is February?
One sweeping view…just what the doctor ordered.
Meg at the first viewpoint.
Notes: Open year-round. Dogs are allowed on-leash, but there are several very rocky areas that would prove difficult for all but a large, confident breed. There are also several rather precarious portions, so I wouldn’t recommend hikers younger than 10. A good sense of balance is also helpful.