Mosier Twin Tunnels Hike
From Oregon Hikers Field Guide
- Start point: Mark Hatfield West Trailhead
- End point: Mark Hatfield East Trailhead
- Trail Log: Trail Log
- Hike Type: In and out or shuttle
- Distance: 8.5 miles round trip
- High point: 530 feet
- Elevation gain: 1000 feet
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Seasons: Year round
- Family Friendly: Yes
- Backpackable: No
- Crowded: Yes
When the original Columbia River Highway was built through this area in 1921, it was necessary to build two tunnels to get through a high rock point. These tunnels, with their windows affording views over the river, were a highlight of any road trip to the Gorge: they were inspired by the design of the Axenstrasse, on Lake Lucerne in Switzerland. However, the tunnels and the nearby cliffs were always a trouble spot on the CRH. Rockfalls were common and accidents happened all too frequently. In 1954, a new road was opened near water level and the tunnels were abandoned. They were soon filled with rock rubble and forgotten. A trip to the west portal in the early 90s found the road near the tunnels completely buried in fallen rock with trees growing in the roadway. Only a quarter of a damaged tunnel portal was visible. In 1995, work was begun to reopen the tunnels for tourist use. This involved the removal of the rubble, and rebuilding and resurfacing the road. Today, the old highway is known as the Historic Columbia River Highway Trail, often abbreviated HCRHT. It has been completely restored with a new surface, new or rebuilt walls and completely cleared tunnels. The 4 1/4 mile trail was opened to tourist use in 2000.
From the parking lot, head up the paved track into woods of Douglas-fir and big-leaf maple with some oaks. The road drops and is lined by maples on the river side. Pass a trickling waterfall on a shady face. There’s a picnic table here. The road drops along a walled section that gives views of the river. The road continues to drop and reenters woods with some views. Then the path rises past an prominent outcrop on the left, with a large pond in an old quarry area. A gravel path leads left at the top of the rise. Walk up and get great views looking east across meadows with blooming serviceberry bushes. This area is fenced. From the fence, you can also look out over the pond in the old quarry.
The road drops from this point and then rises again. There’s a viewpoint of Eighteenmile Island, and then there’s a long wooded downhill stretch leading to a view of Eighteenmile Island and Coyote Wall. The road rises to the covered Twin Tunnels Catchment Structure at the west portal to the tunnels and then enters the two tunnels proper. The second tunnel has two windows, known as adits, looking out over the river. There are outside viewpoints now blocked to the public. Past the second window (and MP 72) is a message scratched into the rock by a 1921 hunting party that was snowbound here.
Out of the tunnels, the road drops past a gorgeous meadow of desert parsley and balsamroot. A path leads left past a picnic table under maples to a glorious viewpoint over the river. The road continues to drop through a more open area that has been burned. There are large patches of lava rock here as well as basalt ramparts. Ponderosa pines, Douglas-fir, big-leaf maple, and Oregon white oak predominate. Pass the barrier and reach the handicapped parking area. The actual parking and Mark Hatfield East Trailhead is to the right up the road below.
- Maps: Hike Finder
- Mosier Twin Tunnels (Cascade Ramblings)
- Green Trails Maps: Columbia River Gorge - East #432S
Regulations or restrictions, etc
$5.00 daily state park pass required at the trailhead
- Search Trip Reports for Twin Tunnels
Related Discussions / Q&A
- Search Trail Q&A for Twin Tunnels
Guidebooks that cover this hike
- Hiking the Columbia River Gorge by Russ Schneider
- Day Hiking: Columbia River Gorge by Craig Romano
- Curious Gorge by Scott Cook
- 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan
- Oregon: The Creaky Knees Guide by Seabury Blair, Jr.
- Columbia Gorge Hikes: 42 Scenic Hikes by Don & Roberta Lowe
- Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
- Pacific Northwest Hiking by Scott Leonard & Megan McMorris
- Kissing the Trail by John Zilly
- Canine Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
- Oregon State Parks: A Complete Recreation Guide by Jan Bannan
- Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail (Oregon State Parks)
- Mosier Twin Tunnels (Friends of the Columbia Gorge)
- Hiking in the Columbia Gorge – Mosier Twin Tunnels (Brian's Brain Dump)