East of Hood River: Wildflowers & Views
East of Hood River, you'll find two more sections of the Historic Columbia River Highway (Ore. 30): One is open only to hikers and bikers, the other to automobiles. The former section, located between Hood River and Mosier and known as the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail (tel. 800/551-6949; www.oregon.gov/oprd/parks), was abandoned when I-84 was built and two tunnels on this section of the old highway were filled in. After the tunnels were re-excavated to open up this stretch as a 4.5-mile paved trail, a rock catchment had to be built along part of the route leading up to the tunnels from the west. Although the trail receives some traffic noise from I-84, it is a fascinating and easy hike or bike ride. To reach the western trail head, travel east out of downtown Hood River on State Street and continue east on Old Columbia River Drive. For the eastern trail head, take exit 69 off I-84 and then take the first left. Starting from this latter trail head makes for a much shorter hike. However, the main visitor center for the trail is at the western trail head. There is a $3 fee to use the trail.
The second part of the old highway, beginning at exit 69 off I-84 and stretching from Mosier to The Dalles, climbs up onto the Rowena Plateau, where sweeping vistas take in the Columbia River, Mount Hood, and Mount Adams. Between March and May, the wildflowers are some of the finest in the state. The best place to see them is at the Nature Conservancy's Tom McCall Preserve (tel. 503/802-8100; www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/oregon). On spring weekends there are usually volunteers guiding wildflower walks through the preserve.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.