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Truly one of the world’s mighty rivers, the Columbia is the largest in western North America. The New York Times describes the Columbia Gorge as being “like Europe, only better.” Hailed as one of Oregon’s Seven Wonders, the region’s fleece-capped mountain peaks, primeval forests, abundant wildflowers and waterfall-streaked highlands evoke the Swiss Alps. Learn about the rich natural history of the region as we visit each of these diverse environments up close, including a whitewater rafting trip down a spectacular gorge. From Multnomah Falls to Hood River to Mount Hood, easy-to-reach trails abound, making this the idea location for a hiking tour!
Take in the sweeping scenery surrounding the City of Roses on a hike in Mt. Tabor Park. Sample a bit of the longest forested urban trail in America, then relax at the Paramount Hotel.
No tour of the Gorge area would be complete without taking in some of the attractions the city of Portland has to offer. First, we will head to Mt. Tabor Park for a walk to the summit. Besides being one of Portland’s most beloved city parks, this extinct volcano featuring native vegetation great views of the city and beyond. Grab lunch at one of Portland’s famous food cart pods. Hike a portion of the longest forested urban trail in America – the Wildwood Trail. At 30 miles long, the Wildwood winds its way through a series of city parks in the West Hills. Before dinner at one the excellent restaurants nearby our hotel (included), you can explore downtown, hit up a wine bar, or sample some of the areas fine craft beers at a local brewpub. Lodging tonight will be at the Paramount Hotel in the heart of the city.
- Mt. Tabor: 2 miles, 350 ft gain
Meet the mighty Columbia Gorge. Begin with a waterfall tour on the Oregon side, then cross the Bridge of the Gods over to Washington for a hike to Falls Creek Falls. Tonight, luxuriate at Skamania Lodge.
This morning we head into the Columbia River Gorge. Creeks and rivers rush forth from snow covered mountains and plummet down the towering cliffs of columnar basalt that form the walls of the Gorge. If there's one thing the Gorge is known for, it is spectacular waterfalls. We will stop for short walks to a couple of falls on the Oregon side of the river and then cross over into Washington State via the Bridge of the Gods, where a massive landslide spanned the river not so long ago. Hike a quiet trail (something that is hard to find in this area) to the two-tiered Falls Creek Falls. Stay two restful nights at one of the Gorge Scenic Area’s destination hotels, Skamania Lodge.
- Falls Creek Falls: 4-6 miles, 800 ft gain
Hike to wildflower-strewn Hamilton Mountain Ridge and descend into the rainforest. Or just spend the day relaxing at Skamania Lodge.
Two great options to choose from today: ascend Hamilton Mountain or spend a day relaxing at the spa and wandering the lovely trails around Skamania Lodge. If you choose Hamilton Mountain, you will ascend through towering westside forests past waterfalls to wildflower-strewn meadows perched on parched, desert-like basalt cliffs. Instead of returning the way we came, we descend via a rainforest canyon of maple, red alder and diverse ferns. Those with extra energy can scale Beacon Rock, as well, This carnival-ride of parapets and walkways is not recommended for those with a fear of heights, but it is an absolute must for trail engineering aficionados! Dinner tonight is on your own at the Lodge.
- Hamilton Mountain Loop: 7.5 miles, 2000 ft gain
Go whitewater rafting on the Washington side of the gorge. Cross back over to Oregon for an afternoon hike on Mt. Hood near iconic Timberline Lodge, our lodging for the next two nights.
Take a whitewater rafting trip (included in the trip fee – no experience necessary) down the glacier-fed White Salmon River. Running clear and cold, the river cuts through a narrow rocky gorge with 100-foot cliffs, emptying out into forested meadows. Have lunch along the river before we head back into Oregon, bound for the literal high point of the tour at Timberline Lodge – a National Historic Landmark perched upon the flanks of Mt Hood, and our lodging for the next two nights. Go for a walk through the mountain meadows and snowfields surrounding the lodge. Marvel at the sweeping views. Savor a celebratory dinner in the fabulous Cascade Dining Room and relax afterward in front of the legendary three-story fireplace!
Hike to Mirror Lake on Mt. Hood for a picture-perfect finale.
On the final day, explore the best Mount Hood National Forest has to offer. See how Mirror Lake earned its name, offering a perfect reflection of the mountain on a calm day. Continue above a glacial-cirque headwall through wildflower meadows to Tom Dick and Harry Mountain (yep, that's the name). This rocky summit amidst the lush forests of the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness offers the perfect perch from which to contemplate the icy volcanic towers of Mt Hood and Mt Jefferson, as well as a host of other peaks in the northern Oregon Cascades. On a clear day, more than 5 volcanoes are visible from here. We toast our journey and have a celebratory lunch before returning to Portland.
- Mirror Lake, Tom Dick & Harry Mtn: 7 miles, 1600 ft gain
As an optional extra, a person traveling solo on any inn-to-inn trip may reserve a room for his or her exclusive use. This will guarantee you a private room and private bath every night. Unlike other tour companies, if you're willing to share a room, there is no extra charge for coming solo, no matter when you sign up for the tour - even if you wind up with a private room by default.