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Rowena Plateau

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

The Rowena Plateau and the Columbia River (Jeff Statt)
McCall Nature Preserve on Rowena Plateau, McCall Point in the background (Jeff Statt)
Looking West down the Columbia River (Jeff Statt)
Balsamroot and Lupine cover Rowena Plateau in May(Greg Lief)



Rowena Plateau sits at the far east side of the Columbia River Gorge - right at the point where the lush, temperate rain forests transitions to the arid, high desert plains of eastern Oregon between Hood River and The Dalles. A long, winding road takes you up from the little town of Rowena, Oregon about 550 feet to a turn-around with a great viewpoint of the Columbia River. On a rainy day in Portland, this is great little destination for a Sunday drive.

In early spring, this square-mile expanse of meadows and swamp-like ponds is a wildflower-lover's heaven! Its location on the eastern edge of the Gorge means the flowers come much earlier than such famous wildflower locations as Dog Mountain and Silver Star Mountain.

You can't talk about the Rowena Plateau without talking about the Tom McCall Nature Preserve. The Nature Conservancy has worked to preserve the fauna and flora here. Ecologists work to monitor rare plant populations. Starting in spring, volunteers lead interpretive hikes. Due to these efforts, dogs are not allowed in the preserve.

There's a nice viewpoint at the end of the trail. From here, you can see the Columbia River and the town of Lyle.

Note - this is a popular spot for cyclists in the warmer months, so take it slow as you drive up to the trailhead.

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Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Portland 2nd Edition, by Paul Gerald
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon 2nd Edition, by William Sullivan
  • Hiking the Columbia River Gorge 2nd Edition, by Russ Schneider

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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.