New map of the Pacific Crest Trail in the Columbia River Gorge shines spotlight on a wonderful place

PCTA is proud to announce a new map brochure of the Pacific Crest Trail specifically for the Columbia River Gorge area. It recommends day trips and provides information about local trail-friendly amenities and tips on how to be prepared, leave no trace and support the trail. A unique coalition of local nonprofits, tourism interests, businesses and municipalities came together recognizing the increased popularity of the Pacific Crest Trail in the Gorge, and collaborated to provide this resource for visitors. Free copies will be available at various Gorge locations.

Download PDFs of the maps: Page 1 and Page 2

At the nexus of the PCT in the Gorge is the famous Bridge of the Gods. It was already an iconic PCT landmark before being featured in the movie Wild starring Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl Strayed) wistfully gazing at the Columbia Gorge and reflecting on the lessons of her journey. Now, toll-takers are reporting a dramatic increase in the number of casual pedestrians and sightseers paying their 50 cents to walk on the bridge and do the same. Long-distance PCTers are still excused from the toll. Completed in 1926, the Bridge of the Gods marks the lowest part of the Pacific Crest Trail, as it spans the great Columbia River between Oregon and Washington. The bridge’s name comes from an enormous landslide that formed an ancient land bridge centuries ago. It eventually collapsed from erosion and earthquakes, creating the Cascade Rapids. Native American legends about these events credit dramatic deities, represented by local volcanoes.

Click the images below to open larger, high-resolution JPEG images.

Join the 2015 Bridge Walk

To celebrate the experience of being on the Bridge and to call attention to the need to improve its pedestrian safety, PCTA has in recent years helped sponsor a free Bridge Walk event in late summer.  Normally, hikers, bikers and horseback riders users must share the bridge’s narrow lanes with cars and trucks, numbering up to 10,000 per day in summer. Bridge Walk is a peaceful half hour where motorized vehicles are not allowed, so people can linger and enjoy the bridge’s breathtaking views. This year’s event will take place on Aug. 29 at 8:30 a.m. in conjunction with the PCT Days festival in Cascade Locks.  There is an ongoing initiative to improve pedestrian/equestrian/bicycle safety conditions on the bridge. To support, contact [email protected].

Take the WET bus to the PCT

Did you know you can get to this section of the PCT and other Gorge trails without a car? Thanks to Skamania County’s WET (West End Transit) Bus (reachable via Portland’s TriMet or Vancouver’s C-TRAN), the Gorge’s wonders are just a ride away. Check out some PCT itinerary options, including Timberline Lodge to Cascade Locks and into Washington, keyed to the WET Bus schedule, created by Friends of the Columbia Gorge and partners.

Car-free trail travelers will also appreciate the area’s newest non-motorized pathway between Rock Creek Drive and Ash Lake Road, helping link Stevenson to the Bridge of the Gods. Stevenson City Council Member Monica Masco said: “Last year I set a personal goal to hike the local sections of the Pacific Crest Trail, and I can’t wait to lace up my boots and take the city’s pathway system from my doorstep all the way to the PCT without having to walk along Highway 14.”

Local Gorge communities are proud to host this unique and beautiful section of the PCT, and they offer fabulous brewpubs, shops, hot springs and lodging. When you are in the Gorge, or any trail town, treat yourself and support local businesses. If you love the PCT and want to ensure its future, it’s a good idea to support the small communities through which the trail passes.

Many thanks to the sponsors who helped make our new PCT brochure-map a reality.

Author: Dana Hendricks

Dana Hendricks, our Columbia Cascades Regional Representative, is in charge of the PCT from Windigo Pass, Oregon through the Columbia River Gorge. She lives with her husband, Paul, and her little hiker, Gus, just a couple miles from the Bridge of the Gods. She has a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Oregon.