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Hood River Pipeline Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

On the catwalk at the narrows in the Hood River (bobcat)
The railroad trestle across the Hood River near the Powerdale Powerhouse (bobcat)
Looking down the Hood River from a rocky beach (bobcat)
Up on the penstock catwalk (bobcat)
The route of the Hood River pipeline (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Powerdale Powerhouse TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Powerdale Penstock Washout
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 3.3 miles
  • Elevation gain: 110 feet
  • High point: 200 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: On summer weekends


Hike Description

This excursion along the lower reaches of the Hood River involves some aberrations of what is normally considered a “hike.” First, you’re on private land all the way, actually the route of the old penstock which led from the 1923 Powerdale Dam on the Hood River, decommissioned in 2010, to the powerhouse and gantry where you’ll begin the hike, all of this route having been turned over to the Columbia Land Trust by PacifiCorp in 2013. Young Hood Riverians blooded themselves hiking along the top of the nine-foot diameter penstock to reach “secret” beaches on the Hood River. Much of the penstock has been taken away. Unusually, however, part of the agreement for the transfer of ownership, in addition to restoration of fish habitat, was to preserve recreational use of the corridor. This provision is somewhat of a nightmare as the route trespasses on the Mount Hood Railroad’s right of way and also involves 0.6 miles of PacifiCorp’s catwalk atop the remaining section of penstock, the most interesting section of this hike.

To begin your exploration of this corridor, walk up to the information kiosk, and then head right towards the well graffitied power station. To your left, the Mount Hood Railroad’s trestle spans the Hood River. The end of the trail is behind the powerhouse, straddled by its maintenance gantry. From here, you’ll get a view across the cobbled verges of the Hood River to a stand of cottonwoods that glows golden in the fall.

Return to the parking area, and take the wide path that leads across the Mount Hood Railroad (This crossing is controversial, and there are plans to construct some kind of safe passage over or under the railroad.). Bear left to walk along the railroad, where there’s still a section of the old penstock. A steep oak-forested hillside slopes down from Highway 35 above. A spur leads right to rock hop a narrow river channel to pass through blackberries, willows, and cottonwoods to a beach on the main channel of the Hood River. Back at the railroad tracks, take the next path on the right to follow the penstock route along the alder-fringed river. Now between you and the railroad, there are the old concrete supports of the decommissioned penstock. On your right, you can visit a beach below a drop in the river. Then pass a junction of sorts with the path that comes down from Kodak Point on Highway 35, the stop where motorists take in a glorious view of Mount Hood.

Come to the pipeline bridge where the river braids on both sides of you. You’ll take this catwalk on top of the old penstock for the last 0.6 miles of the hike. At an open gate on the other side of the crossing, a vertical ladder leads down so you can access the beach, the first of three opportunities to get down from the catwalk. Bear in mind that the toothed grill of the walkway may do damage to your dog’s paws. The penstock and its maintenance catwalk cross a densely thicketed flat of maple, alder, red osier dogwood, and blackberry. You’ll see a makeshift rope and block leading down to your left at a break in the railing. The pipeline becomes squeezed between the river and a steep slope. A steel ladder drops to the right. Taking this, you’ll follow the penstock back to duck under it and take a trail that ends up at a small beach on a narrows in the river. Back on the catwalk, you’ll soon reach the end of the current walkway. The section ahead of you was destroyed in the November 2006 rampage of the Hood River, the event which led to the eventual dismantling of the Powerdale Dam.


Regulations or restrictions, etc

  • Day use only: no fires or camping
  • Picnic tables, information kiosk
  • Not recommended to take dogs on the catwalk

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Curious Gorge by Scott Cook
  • PDX Hiking 365 by Matt Reeder

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.