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The Dalles Riverfront Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

View to the Columbia Hills and Rocky Island from the Riverfront Trail (bobcat)
Crates Point from the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center (bobcat)
Golden currant (Ribes aureum), The Dalles Riverfront Trail (bobcat)
The Imagination Garden, The Dalles Riverfront Trail (bobcat)
The northern section of Riverfront walk (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Discovery Center TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Klindts Cove Trailhead
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 6.6 miles
  • High point: 210 feet
  • Elevation gain: 100 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

The paved Riverfront Trail leads from the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, at the north end of The Dalles, along the Columbia River all the way to The Dalles Dam. The entire length, about ten miles, is easily done by bicycle although Riverfront Park, through which the trail passes, is closed from November 1st to Memorial Day to protect wildlife. However, the first part of the trail, as far as the small picnic area and restrooms at Klindts Cove, is a good family hike and takes in an undeveloped section of the scablands scoured by the Bretz floods. There are expansive views of the river itself and the grassy slopes of the Columbia Hills on the Washington side. While most of the the trail can be used all year, spring is the best time for weather and wildflowers.

At the beginning or the end of the trip, you can tour the Discovery Center or at least the interpretive trail (Native Plant Pond Walk) that leads from the front to the back of the building. You'll pass examples of early settler and Native dwellings, see a small mews with a couple of raptors, admire labeled native plants, circle a cattail-rimmed pond, and enjoy a view to Squally Point on the Columbia River. This area was part of the donation land claim settled by Edward Crate, his part-Indian wife, Sophia, and their 14 children. They did business by supplying transportation services for emigrants on the Oregon Trail and grazed cattle here. The original Crate log cabin was destroyed by a fire in 1948.

From the parking area, head down the slope and switchback twice. Note the interpretive signs along the way. The trail crosses a grassy expanse of scabland and enters a locust grove, the site of a former homestead. From here, switchback to pass under the railroad tracks. This area is part of the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife's Crates Point Wildlife Area. Wind around through basalt outcrops in a powerline corridor. The trail enters a strip of riparian vegetation, with Taylor Lake to the right and Rocky Island to the left. A side trail leads over a bridge to the parking area at Taylor Lake, which is a popular local fishing hole. The Riverfront Trail continues on the basalt ledge above the Columbia and then heads in above Chenoweth Creek to cross a bridge before heading out again to run along a tall fence in the Port of The Dalles industrial area. The trail passes the mosaic-walled Imagination Garden, a little green oasis in the industrial landscape, and reaches the picnic and parking area at Klindts Cove. Native American fishing platforms jut out from the rocks here; across the river are orchards and then the long, low line of the Columbia Hills.

Hikers may want to turn back at this point. If you want to continue walking, or are biking it, keep along the paved trail until it heads in to meet Klindt Drive. Here the trail becomes a wide sidewalk and skirts a fenced pond to meet River Road. The Riverfront Trail turns off Riverfront Road opposite the rodeo grounds and ambles along the river again before turning in at the Windseeker Restaurant. Go left on Bargeway Road, and then right where Bargeway heads out to meet 1st Street. The wide sidewalk continues to the Rock Fort, a place where Lewis and Clark camped in anticipation of a rumored Indian attack. The trail is now squeezed in between the freeway and the river and passes a new dock and small park with a picnic table at the Union Street Tunnel under the freeway. After this, the trail heads above The Dalles Marina and meets the large parking area there. Riverfront Park is at the far end of the marina, but entry is prohibited from November 1st to Memorial Day to protect wildlife. It’s six miles from the Discovery Center to Riverfront Park.

In summer and early fall, you can explore Riverfront Park on the trail and keep on sections of it (Some are not yet constructed) past The Dalles Bridge and eventually reach The Dalles Dam. This is another four miles one-way, the trail being 10 miles from the Discovery Center to The Dalles Dam.


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

Regulations or restrictions, etc

  • Dogs on leash

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Day Hike! Columbia Gorge by Seabury Blair, Jr.
  • Oregon: The Creaky Knees Guide by Seabury Blair, Jr.
  • Columbia Gorge Getaways by Laura O. Foster
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Scott Leonard & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Canine Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • Fire, Faults, and Floods: A Road & Trail Guide Exploring the Origins of the Columbia River Basin by Marge & Ted Mueller

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.