Summer is coming soon. That means it’s going to be hiking season. After the Eagle Creek fire, however, many of the most famous trails and hiking areas are closed.
The closed areas are dangerous places, and you don’t want to go there. They’re so perilous that the rescue teams aren’t even going in to train. The fire stripped away the topography in the areas it touched. As a result, there’s a risk of landslide or falling trees and rocks. Some of the streams, backed up by fallen logs, create a hazard for flash floods. Even months after the fire was 100% contained, the firefighters working in the area have run across smoldering tree stumps. If the rescue crews are not going in, neither should you.
Finding great hikes
While the trails in the areas affected by the Eagle Creek fire are closed, there are plenty of other great hikes. After all, this is the Pacific Northwest, and there are great alternatives to the alternatives. Here are two easy ways to to find the perfect hike.
If you’re looking for a simple list with good variety, the Oregonian has released a list of 15 hikes in the Columbia River Gorge that are still open. Arranged from most to least difficult, we found this article to be a fantastic starting point, or the perfect list to take you through the entire summer. With fifteen hikes, that’ll cover one hike a week.
You’d also do yourself a favor to head over to the Friends of the Columbia Gorge website. There, the options range from a tenth of a mile or less with no elevation change, to the Augspurger Mountain trail with a sixteen-mile round trip and 4,400’ elevation change. You can choose your hikes by what you want to see, how far you want to hike, how much difficulty you want to encounter, and what area you want to visit. Friends of the Gorge is an exhaustive resource in planning where your next hike will take you.
With some of the most famous trails closed, you’ll probably find that the other trails are more crowded. Go early or on a less crowded day during the week if you can, but even with more people on the trails, it’s still going to be beautiful out there.
We can’t wait for the summer months to get out there and see the beauty that is the PNW. Where will you be hiking this summer? Let us know in the comments below.