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Cascade Locks West Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

View to Table Mountain and Greenleaf Peak from the Gorge Trail (bobcat)
Vine maple flowers, Gorge Trail (bobcat)
The Gorge Trail passing through a rocky defile (bobcat)
The tunnel under I-84 (Steve Hart)
The loop on the Gorge 400 and HCRH State Trail (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo/MapBuilder Topo


Hike Description

Beginning at the Bridge of the Gods, this short loop is close to the freeway all the way but puts you on a sample of the two official trans-Gorge trails, the Gorge Trail #400 and the paved Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail (HCRHT). It's a good all year shaded outing for families with younger children.

The hike starts at the Cascade Locks Trailhead, beneath the Bridge of the Gods. From here, cross Wa Na Pa Street, and walk up through Toll House Park past the Bridge of the Gods Trailhead to pick up the Pacific Crest Trail. This is probably the most urban section of the entire PCT, and the crossing of the Columbia River is the lowest point on the entire 2,650-mile trail! You'll hike a short distance up a few feet from the freeway, then you'll drop to Moody Avenue. Turn right, head under the freeway and then bear right straight ahead up gravel Harvey Road. In a few steps, you'll come to the PCT Harvey Road Trailhead. From here the PCT goes to Dry Creek Falls, Benson Plateau, and of course, eventually Mexico.

For this hike though, head west on the Gorge Trail, which is an unusual beast. Over 30 miles long, it connects over a dozen trailheads on the Oregon side of the Gorge, creating all kinds of multi-day loop trips. It's also a well-maintained, low altitude trail, that provides hiking year round. If this area was ever logged, it was long ago, and much of the trail is quite scenic in a "deep forest" sort of way, with old trees and rocky crags. The Gorge Trail's downside is its proximity to Interstate 84. For almost the entire trail, your eyes will tell you that you're in a rare, low altitude wilderness, and your ears will be telling you that you're under the Marquam Bridge near downtown Portland. That creates an interesting mindset probably improved with some good, loud music piped directly into your ears.

This section of the Gorge Trail is no exception. The first portion is arrow straight adjacent to an old fence designed to keep people off the interstate. Since the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire, a lot of hazard trees were logged in this area, and there's also poison oak. When you enter unlogged woods, the trail winds up and down small knolls and mossy hummocks of landslide debris. In the fall, the understory is yellow with turning maple leaves and the firs are deep green, creating interesting contrasts. Springtime brings blooms of candy flower, bleeding heart, and Oregon grape.

After about a mile, the area gets rockier and the trail climbs a 100-foot rocky point with two switchbacks on each side. There are views across to the Washington side of the Gorge taking in the forested hummocks of the Bonneville Landslide and the sheer south faces of Table Mountain and Greenleaf Peak. There's a partial view upriver to the Bridge of the Gods. About a mile and a half west of Moody Avenue, the Gorge Trail joins the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail (the HCRHT). When the modern I-84 was constructed, it crossed the old highway here, leaving two disconnected sections. When the HCRHT was restored, trail builders were faced with a dilemma. It was solved by creating a new tunnel under the freeway. The tunnel, opened in 1998, has been faced with stone similar to that used during construction of the old highway.

To complete your hike, cross under the freeway and walk east on the paved HCRHT. Here you are likely to see more people than on the Gorge Trail. The old road heads gently down into a cool, unburned forest of big-leaf maple and Douglas-fir. The Washington shore seems close here, and the railroad tracks are just to your left, while I-84, whose traffic thunder is somewhat muffled by the trees, is above. After about a mile, you'll come to the shoulder of the Cascade Locks I-84 freeway entrance ramp. The old highway here was transformed into the modern freeway access, so all the trail builders could do was create a protected freeway shoulder for the trail. In a couple hundred yards, you'll be back to your car at the Bridge of the Gods.


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Bonneville Dam, OR #429
  • Green Trails Maps: Columbia River Gorge - West #428S
  • Geo-Graphics: Trails of the Columbia Gorge
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service/Bureau of Land Management: Columbia River Gorge
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Dogs on leash on the HCRHT

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 50 Hiking Trails: Portland & Northwest Oregon by Don & Roberta Lowe (Gorge Trail)
  • Best Bike Rides: Portland, Oregon by Lizann Dunegan & Ayleen Crotty (HCRH Trail)

More Links


Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.