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Lewis and Clark Park Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Broughton Bluff, Lewis & Clark State Recreation Site (bobcat)
Typical tread on the Nature Trail (Steve Hart)
View of the Sandy Delta, Lewis & Clark State Recreation Site (bobcat)
At the Zone, Lewis & Clark State Recreation Site (bobcat)
The Red Wall, Broughton Bluff (bobcat)


Hike Description

One of the things that we strive for here on the Field Guide is completeness. In that spirit, we present the Lewis and Clark Nature Trail. It's not so much that we recommend it, as it is we want to present all of your hiking options. While hikers may find the choices frustrating here, it should be noted that this park is one of the best destinations close to the city for bouldering and rock climbing.

This trail is at least a mile and a half long, but it's really difficult to say, as it doesn't seem to really be built as much as it does to exist. It grows fainter with each step, until each hiker decides that's enough and that's where their personal version of the trail ends.

Beginning in the Lewis & Clark State Park, the trail starts from a sign pointing out the Oregon Grape. That's probably a good thing as that's the only Oregon Grape in the area. Four signs near the end of the developed park point out four species of trees and that's the sum total of the nature education on this “nature” trail.

Leaving the developed park, the trail slabs eastward along the north edge of Broughton Bluff, usually just far enough above the railroad to make it unimportant to railbuffs, but always staying close enough to insure an occasional snippet of railroad audio mixed in with the ever-present freeway din. The trail itself alternates between mind boggling stands of stinging nettles 7-8 feet high, overhanging and blocking the trail, interspersed with less poisonous if more thorny masses of Himalayan blackberries. The view alternates from closeups of invasive plantlife, to less interesting distant looks at the same plants. The trail is never really difficult to follow, though it is difficult to find a reason to continue.

There are a few noteworthy pieces of blowdown and some large, fallen pieces of basalt, particularly at about mile 1.3. The farther east the trail goes, the less traveled it becomes. Spider webs increase in both number and stickiness as hikers get farther from the trailhead. A steep climbers' trail heads up to the right. This leads straight up and then right under a rock overhang below a bouldering area known as The Zone. Back at the "main" trail, negotiate a thicketed gulley and start to ascend again. Pass a house-sized boulder. The trail flattens on a wooded bench. Cross a rivulet and rise to a bluff view through trees to the Sandy River Delta wetlands across the freeway. At a large stump, don’t take a scramble trail down to the left; keep on the level through the brush. The trail becomes much less distinct here. Continue past a multi-trunked big-leaf maple and fetch up in a fern/moss boulder field. Return to the park area.

You can also explore the trails below the Broughton Bluff climbing area, which offer an extension to the hike. The trail switchbacks up steps to a junction with a trail leading left to the North Face climbing area. Continue up to the right coming up the climbing face of the Hanging Gardens. The trail left leads to the North Face. To the right is the Red Wall with the rescue gurney strapped to a shelter below it. The trail heads below the walls of Bridge Cliff, Spring Rock, Bat Wall, Trinity Cliff, Berlin Wall, Jungle Cliff and New Frontier.

All in all, except for the side visit to the climbing walls, I can’t find much to recommend in this hike. Still, there's always something positive to be found in every hike and this one was a learning experience. In this hike I learned five things:

1) I discovered that stinging nettles don't hurt as much as they used to when I was a little kid.

2) I learned that 240 lbs per foot (real, not square) is enough to poke a foot-sized hole in a rotten log.

3) I found no matter how carefully you select them, blackberries just aren’t as tasty as huckleberries.

4) It seems that when you put a hand down for support while working under an overhanging log, you have a 50/50 chance of creating slug puree with your bare hands.

5) Finally, I found I can trust Russ Schneider when he says that he had a hard time finding a reason to include this hike. I settled for “completeness”.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Dogs on leash

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Oregon's Columbia River Gorge: Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Hiking the Columbia River Gorge 1st Edition, by Russ Schneider
  • The Dog Lover's Companion to Oregon by Val Mallinson

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.