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Herman Creek-Wyeth Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Talus slope on the Gorge Trail (bobcat)
Gnarly Douglas-fir on the Herman Creek Trail (bobcat)
Basalt pinnacle from the Gorge Trail (bobcat)
Wind Mountain from the Gorge Trail (bobcat)
Hike route shown in red (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Topo
  • Start point: Herman Creek TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Wyeth Trailhead
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 10.8 miles round trip
  • High Point: 960 feet
  • Elevation gain: 2175 feet round-trip
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Year-Round
  • Family Friendly: Yes (as a car shuttle)
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Hike Description

This is a low-level hike, good for rainy days and winter months. The section on the Gorge Trail, which ends at the Wyeth Trailhead is the last addition to that project, completed in the 1990s, and essentially follows the boundary of the expanded Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness. The hike covers typical low-level Columbia River Gorge topography, fauna and vegetation: coniferous woods with a liberal dosage of big-leaf maple, creek crossings, and several talus slopes; you will almost certainly see woodpeckers, Pacific wrens, and silently-flitting varied thrushes. In fall, fungi are profuse, but as with other sections of the Gorge Trail, the sounds of the Gorge as transportation corridor are never far away. A couple of viewpoints allow you to see across the river to the Washington shore. This area was affected by the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire, but along most of these lower slopes, the canopy is still intact and the understory plants are recovering from their roots. Expect to see a lot of scorched tree trunks, however. For those wanting a shorter outing, this is an excellent car shuttle opportunity.

The path drops from the trailhead, but then switchbacks up twice before traversing. There are two more switchbacks in shady big-leaf maple, hemlock, Douglas-fir woods. Reach the powerline corridor and cross it, heading up to the right to reenter the woods. Here, you'll begin to see the effects of the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire, with the understory burned away but slowly recovering and the conifer canopy mostly intact. The path winds through an area of large, moss-covered boulders, and then passes an old forest track leading off the left (This track drops down to Herman Creek Road). Pass around the nose of a ridge, switchback twice, and traverse up to the junction with the Herman Bridge Trail #406E, 0.6 miles from the trailhead. Keep up on the main trail to switchback and then reach a bend in an old forest road. Stay right and head up the road, which levels in Douglas-fir, hemlock, and maple forest. You'll arrive at a five-way junction after 1.3 miles where the Herman Creek Trail reaches Herman Camp. The actual campsite is up the first trail to the right if you turn left here; in the 1970s, this spot was also a trailhead - if you were willing to risk your vehicle on the slow drive up the narrow road.

Take the Gorge Trail #400, the first trail on the left, and head into Douglas-fir/Oregon grape woods. The route essentially forms the northern boundary of the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness as per the new boundaries drawn up in 2009. Drop under Douglas-fir, hemlock, big-leaf maple and vine maple. Oregon grape and sword fern are the main carpet plants. The woods are mossy, dark and deep. Watch for the pileated woodpeckers that frequent this part of the forest. The trail rises slightly in a cedar grove and crosses a creek. Pass above a huge boulder that tumbled from above centuries ago. Enter open secondary forest and see the powerline corridor below. At a mossy talus slope, the Washington side of the Gorge is visible: Wind Mountain, Home Valley, the Columbia River, and Dog Mountain. A couple of ancient Douglas-firs survive on the jumble of boulders. The trail drops and you cross rushing Grays Creek and then a second, smaller tributary. Pass across another open talus slope with a rocky rampart above. At the third talus slope, there’s a great view of Wind and Dog Mountains as well as Home Valley. Traverse three narrower talus slopes with more views. Then, head down to a brand new footbridge over Gorton Creek and arrive at the Gorge-Wyeth Trail Junction. Go left here to reach the Wyeth Trailhead.

Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Columbia River Gorge - West #428S
  • Geo-Graphics: Trails of the Columbia Gorge
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
  • Discover Your Northwest: Mt. Hood National Forest North
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Hood River Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Northwest Forest Pass required at both trailheads

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Afoot and Afield Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain

More Links

Contributors

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.