Rowena Crest hike

Three hikes (and three tips) to experience the wildflower blooms this month in the Columbia River Gorge

It’s that time of year: Spring wildflowers are blooming in the Columbia River Gorge and you don’t want to miss it. Thankfully, we’ve got you covered. Here are three hikes you can take this month to enjoy the amazing splendor that’s blossoming, as well as three tips for getting to your destination safely and stress-free. If you’re planning to go on a weekend day expect large crowds, so consider taking your trip on a weekday morning instead.

Wildflowers at Rowena

Wildflowers are blooming at Rowena Crest near The Dalles. 

Image credit: Instagram user @finding_fina

Three Tips:

1. Check out Ready, Set, GOrge!

Before you head out, make sure the Gorge trail you want to hike  is open. Ready, Set, GOrge! has an updated list of what’s open and closed every week

2. Arrive early and have a backup plan

Wildflower season is very popular in the Columbia River Gorge and trail congestion occurs quickly, especially on sunny weekends. Consider planning your hike for a weekday vs. weekend and try to reach your destination before 9 a.m. Have at least two alternative options in mind if your destination is overcrowded or the parking lot is full. Reminder: If you’re bringing your dog, check in advance to see if dogs are allowed on the trail and always pick up their poop!

3. Stay safe 

Make sure to follow public health guidelines and the Covid-19 protocols of social distancing, staying 6 feet apart, wearing masks, and washing your hands. This can be challenging on busy trails, so stay alert and stay safe!

Three Hikes:

Head on over to Mosier for a great opportunity to experience spring wildflowers and an incredible view.

1. Mosier Plateau

This hike is best for wildflowers in mid to late April, and more than 30 different types of flower species have been observed, according to Friends of the Columbia Gorge. The hike is 3.5 miles round-trip and gains an elevation of 600 feet. You’ll end up on a plateau viewpoint overlooking the Gorge and the Mosier Valley. Make sure you check out the driving directions that Friends of the Columbia Gorge has prepared for getting to the trailhead - don’t park at the Mosier Senior Center, or else you’ll risk having your car towed! If you’re going up for the sunset, Mosier Company is a great spot to grab a bite or a drink beforehand, and you can always swing through Brenna’s Mosier Market to pick up picnic items along with wine, beer, or hard cider.

2. Rowena Plateau

Managed by the Nature Conservancy, the Tom McCall Preserve at Rowena just re-opened to the public on April 1. This short loop hike is 2.5 miles and gains 250 feet in elevation, while offering great views of balsamroot and other wildflowers. Be sure to follow the directions to the trailhead and the Nature Conservancy's guidelines - no dogs are allowed. If you’re hungry before or after, plan a stop in at Smoke Wring BBQ in The Dalles and enjoy a sandwich, salad, platter, or wrap. The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum has a wealth of information about the history, geology, waterways, and climate that makes spring blooms of wildflowers possible every year.

3. Tom McCall Point

Starting from the same trailhead as the shorter Rowena loop, this is a more strenuous hike up to Tom McCall Point. The hike is 4 miles round-trip and gains 1,070 feet in elevation. It offers plenty of opportunities to see wildflowers as well as the Columbia River, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Adams when you get to the viewpoint. No dogs are allowed on this trail, so be sure to leave your furry friends at home. For a bite to eat and a drink, drop in for outdoor seating at the River Tap Pub in The Dalles. You can enjoy a burger, wrap, or appetizers, as well as a glass of wine, cocktail, or beer.

Balsamroot flowers blossom at Tom McCall Point. Photo credit: Instagram user @theresiwanchuk