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Chenoweth Tableland Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Rim view and hoodoo, Chenoweth Tableland (bobcat)
Looking up at the Eagle Cliffs from the middle school (bobcat)
Choke cherry (Prunus virginiana), Chenoweth Tableland (bobcat)
Hoodoo near the water tanks, Chenoweth Tableland (bobcat)
Trail routes on the Chenoweth Tableland (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Chenowith Middle School TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Chenoweth Rim Viewpoint
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out with mini-loops
  • Distance: 4.5 miles
  • High point:780 feet
  • Elevation gain: 870 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No
Poison Oak


Hike Description

NOTICE: Private landholders have now erected fences and posted No Trespassing signs in the area. You can still visit the caves, the northern section of the tableland, and some of the interior, but respect all signs and keep within public lands.

Above The Dalles hangs a line of cliffs that seem quite out of place among the basalt synclines and anticlines of the central Gorge. This sandstone of the Dalles Formation represents the remains of a Pliocene lake bed that formed in a basin covering the Columbia River basalts in this area. Much of the area above and below these cliffs, over 300 acres, was purchased by the Forest Service in 2002. The cliff faces themselves host nesting raptors and swallows in the spring; in addition, generations of The Dalles teenagers have come up here, gouged their initials, splashed graffiti, built fires, and gotten cozy in the shallow caverns that perforate the rim. A few years ago, it was possible to access the scabland plateau from the back side, but irate landowners have put up signs asking walkers not to use their privately maintained access road, so the best way up now is via the boarded up Chenowith Middle School at the northwest base of the bluff. There are great views of the surrounding area as well as some unique rock formations; wildflowers bloom in profusion here in the spring, and a resident herd of deer can almost always be observed.

Walk around the fence and up through the parking lot towards the southwest corner of the school property. There’s an apartment complex to the left. Find the trail at the corner of the property. This heads north above the school through an oak savannah. Pass through a fence and note some ponderosa pines. Where the trail forks at a clump of bitterbrush, switchback up four times, getting views of the north end of The Dalles and across the Columbia. A trail leads right along a bench with views of the Chenoweth Valley, but after a couple of gullies, you will reach a No Trespassing sign and will have to turn back. Instead, keep up to the left on the steep trail heading up through oaks and bitterbrush. Wildflowers bloom in profusion here, including grass widows, yellow bells, prairie stars, and balsamroot in early spring. Nearing a gap in the rimrock, a trail leads left and down to squeeze along the base of the cliffs. You can explore here for a while, noting the small caverns and much graffiti.

Return to the gap and head up to the tableland. To your left is the spectacular Eagle Cliffs Viewpoint offering views to the north (Sevenmile Hill, Crate’s Point, and Foley Lakes) and east (the Columbia Hills) as well as down to the city of The Dalles. You can hike south along the rim getting great views along the way among the oaks, ponderosas, bitterbrush and rabbitbrush. Where an indistinct trail drops down in a break in the cliffs, you can follow it at an angle heading towards the two water tanks of the Rohde Reservoir. Cross a major trail above the tanks and come to a slope looking down on a spectacular hoodoo. Then take the major trail back up to another break in the rim to continue along the rim all the way to the power lines and the Chenoweth Rim Viewpoint. You will notice many more interesting rock formations along the way.

Once at the powerlines, you have a choice: return along the rim or make a loop across the center of the tableland. The powerline track will lead to a fence and then right to a road. You can follow a road track back towards the rim; it veers right and then walk left to the northeast corner viewpoint to find the trail down to the middle school. Alternatively, you can head cross-country across the open, unforested plateau to the northern rim above Chenoweth Creek and follow that back to your descent path. Make sure that you respect private property signs.

  • Justin Chenoweth (1825-1898) settled on a land claim near the mouth of Chenoweth Creek in 1853. He also carried the mail between The Dalles and the Cascades and surveyed much of the land around The Dalles for settlement. Note that there seem to be two spellings of 'Chenoweth' (or 'Chenowith') in the area.


Regulations or restrictions, etc

  • Respect all private property signs
  • Share trails with mountain bikes

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Curious Gorge by Scott Cook

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.