Cherry Orchard


5 miles round trip

1100 feet elevation gain

Open all year

A spectacular trail climbs rimrock bluffs above the Columbia River to sweeping views from an ancient cherry orchard at the dry eastern end of the Columbia Gorge. In spring the arid slopes erupt with wildflowers. Although the trail is open all year, avoid the shadeless heat of August and the icy winds of mid winter.

The stark cliffs on the lower portion of this hike were stripped of soil when 800-foot-deep Ice Age floods scoured out the Columbia Gorge 12,000 years ago. Just above that high-water mark, the orchard site remained fertile enough to attract a farmer during the fruit boom of the early 1900s.

By the late 1900s, when developers were threatening to clutter the Gorge’s rimrock with private homes, one woman began quietly buying up land near Lyle to preserve the scenery. Nancy Russell helped found the Friends of the Columbia Gorge in 1980. In 2009 her estate donated 515 acres to the non-profit group, including all of the Cherry Orchard Trail. Today the scenic path is open to everyone, as long as you sign a liability waiver at a registration box near the trailhead.

To find the trailhead, …

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