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McCall Point Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

TKO put tools to trail here.png
The trail is lined with balsamroot in May (cfm)
Columbia frasera (Frasera albicaulis), McCall Point (bobcat)
Rowena Gap from McCall Point (bobcat)
Sticky-stem penstemon - darker version (Penstemon glandulosus var. chelanensis), McCall Point (bobcat)
The trail to McCall Point in the east Columbia Gorge (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Rowena Crest TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: McCall Point
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: Out and back
  • Distance: 3.4 miles round trip
  • Elevation gain: 1070 feet
  • High point: 1,722 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: March 1st to October 31st (closed in the wet season to prevent erosion)
  • Family Friendly: Yes, for older kids
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes
Falling
Poison-Oak
Rattlesnakes
Ticks

Contents

Hike Description

This is a hike filled with views of the eastern Columbia River Gorge, and wildflowers, including a few rare species, are abundant. You will ascend from the scabland at Rowena Crest onto Nature Conservancy property, the trail taking you across the open slopes and oak copses of McCall Point. Please respect the restrictions that the Conservancy has put in place here to protect this unique habitat: (1) the trail is open only six months of the year (May through October); (2) no dogs or bicycles are permitted on the trail; (3) stay on the trail at all times to protect sensitive plant communities. The best time to visit (for wildflowers) is during May and the first half of June.

You can first look at the native plantings in the center of the parking circle at the Rowena Crest Trailhead. The lightly graveled trail itself crosses a flat area in a landscape of low 'biscuit mounds,' where you'll see balsamroot, wild onion, tarweed, and bicolored cluster lily, for about 400 yards. Then the route joins an old road, which heads east to the edge of the basalt rim above a forested bowl that slopes down to the Columbia River. In an avenue of oaks on a rocky slope, there's also plenty of poison oak as well as fern-leaf desert parsley and bloomed-out Columbia desert parsley. The trail switchbacks up a slope away from the road bed, the remnant of the wagon road that was built from The Dalles to Hood River in the 1870s. There are amazing views to the east including the tight loops of the Historic Columbia River Highway and a continuation of this wagon road, heading down the opposite side of the valley. Just off the trail, you may note a few examples of the local endemic Hood River milk-vetch.

After a short climb, the trail passes through copses of white oak and reaches the meadowed slopes overlooking the Rowena Plateau. Here, you'll have your first view to the west, including the arched highway bridge over Rowena Dell and Mount Defiance. Looking north, Mount Adams appears behind the town of Lyle, at the mouth of the Klickitat River. From here, the trail gets steeper as it switchbacks, alternating through forests of oak and open grassy areas. Wildflowers to look out for include white-stem frasera, sticky-stem penstemon, and large-flowered collomia. Balsamroot, paintbrush, and lupine should be in full bloom in May. This part of the trail is populated with poison oak and ticks. Be sure to wear long pants and long sleeves. As the trail climbs, the views of the river and the plateau get better and better.

The summit is marked by the kind of marker more commonly seen next to the freeway. You've still got the same beautiful river views and now there's a great morning view of Mount Hood as well. It can be windy up here in the spring.

For those with a little wind left in their lungs, a fainter trail continues south dropping steeply into a little saddle and climbing up the peak beyond. This part of the trail is narrower, steeper and more prone to poison oak than the first part. After about another half mile, you'll reach the second summit marked by a small rock cairn. The area is covered is small oak trees, but there are open viewpoints here and there in all directions.

Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Columbia River Gorge - East #432S
  • National Geographic: Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

Regulations or restrictions, etc

  • Trail closed November 1st through April 30th
  • No passes required. There is a donation box at the Rowena Plateau Trailhead.
  • Dogs, bikes and horses are prohibited
  • No campfires, camping, flower picking or walking off the trails.

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Curious Gorge by Scott Cook
  • 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland by Paul Gerald
  • PDX Hiking 365 by Matt Reeder
  • Hiking Oregon's Geology by Ellen Morris Bishop
  • Day Hikes in the Columbia Gorge by Don J. Scarmuzzi
  • Day Hiking: Columbia River Gorge by Craig Romano
  • Take A Hike: Portland by Barbara I. Bond
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan
  • Trips & Trails: Oregon by William L. Sullivan
  • Day Hike! Columbia Gorge by Seabury Blair, Jr.
  • Oregon: The Creaky Knees Guide by Seabury Blair, Jr.
  • Oregon Hiking by Matt Wastradowski
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Craig Hill & Matt Wastradowski
  • Hiking the Columbia River Gorge by Russ Schneider; revised by Jim Yuskavitch
  • Oregon Nature Weekends by Jim Yuskavitch
  • 50 Hikes in Oregon by David L. Anderson
  • Columbia Gorge Getaways by Laura O. Foster
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Scott Leonard & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon's Columbia River Gorge: Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Columbia River Gorge: 42 Scenic Hikes by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • 70 Virtual Hikes of the Columbia River Gorge by Northwest Hiker
  • Oregon State Parks: A Complete Recreation Guide by Jan Bannan
  • Fire, Faults, and Floods: A Road & Trail Guide Exploring the Origins of the Columbia River Basin by Marge & Ted Mueller

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.