It’s so easy to take things for granted. Funny, though, but residents of the Gorge seem almost universally afflicted with a sense of daily gratitude.We felt it the other day, finishing up our daily run along the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail — what Hood River locals call the “tunnel trail.”
If you’ve never been, you can get a glimpse of how fantastic it is with this photo tour at the state parks web site.
So, what’s so great about it?
- No cars. Yep, it is part of the original highway through the Gorge, but after it was abandoned, then reclaimed and restored a dozen years ago, it was opened only to hikers, bikers, runners and other non-motorized users.
- Varied scenery. From the west entrance, about 1.5 miles in, you come to a year-round waterfall. Then you pass along winding, restored retaining wall with fantastic views of the Columbia River to the east. Then you go up a long grade overlooking a seasonal lake at the base of an old rock quarry. Then you come to scenic overlooks. Eventually, you come to the two tunnels and the dry side, downhill slope to the town of Mosier.
- Human pace. Yes, some people choose to whiz through the trail on bikes, training no doubt for some spandex masochism marathon. But many people just stroll, with kids on tiny bikes, babies in strollers, dogs on leashes. They stop, gawk, walk, talk, encounter friends, note changes to the vegetation (now is the best time, when all the rock-lodged succulents green up and bloom their tiny flowers).
Next time you’re staying at the Hood River Hotel, ask one of our desk agents how to get to the trailhead. Then share the gratitude.