Cape Horn

  • Easy (to Pioneer Point)
  • 3 miles round trip
  • 870 feet elevation gain
  • Open all year


  • Moderate (to waterfalls)
  • 7.2-mile loop
  • 1300 feet elevation gain
  • Open July 16 to January 31

This spectacular trail explores Cape Horn, a landmark bluff towering above the Columbia River on the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge. For an easy hike, climb to a clifftop viewpoint with wildflowers. A grander loop that passes waterfalls and a train tunnel is closed from February 1 to July 15 to protect the peregrine falcons that nest on riverside cliffs.

Pedestrian underpass on the Cape Horn trail at Highway 14

When a housing subdivision threatened to mar Cape Horn with 16 mansions in the early 1980s, local activist Nancy Russell led the Friends of the Columbia Gorge to stop the development by buying the lots. One 5500-square-foot home was built nonetheless, but 20 years later the Friends bought it and tore it down. The site now has a stone-walled viewpoint honoring Russell. The Columbia Land Trust, another local non-profit group, secured rights-of-way to make Cape Horn’s loop trail possible. Volunteers hacked out the original tread. The Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area has since improved the trail and built pedestrian tunnels for highway crossings.

To drive here from Vancouver . . .

This chapter taken from the book 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington.