Mosier Plateau
Eastern Gorge, Oregon
Wildflowers cover Mosier Plateau in spring (photographer: Joe Urmos)
Hike Details
Type:
Out to a loop and back
Distance:
3.5 miles round trip
Elevation Gain:
600 feet
Difficulty:
Moderate
Trail Features
Family Friendly:
Yes
Restrooms:
Yes
Trailhead Pass:
No
Trail Details
WildflowersWaterfallWaterfallBeautiful ViewsIce Age FloodsIce Age FloodsBird Viewing
TRAIL ALERT: In June 2020, Mosier City Council voted to keep all their city parks closed until Sept. 17. With the closure of their city parks, including Pocket Park, the Mosier Plateau trail will also remain effectively closed until Sept. 17.
 
The Mosier Plateau trail is managed cooperatively by the city of Mosier and Friends of the Columbia Gorge Land Trust. The first half-mile of the trail runs through Mosier Pocket Park and alongside the town’s Pioneer Cemetery. A recreation easement from a local landowner then connects the city park to our land trust property.



This trail begins in the town of Mosier, follows Mosier Creek through the community’s Pocket Park and then ends up on Mosier Plateau, which is owned by Friends of the Columbia Gorge Land Trust. This trail is part of Gorge Towns to Trails project, a comprehensive trail system that wraps around the Columbia Gorge, linking communities with recreation. The trail was completed in the summer 2013 with numerous partners and volunteers. Enjoy!
 
Begin the hike close to the totem pole in Mosier, in the public parking area between Highway 30 and the railroad. The trailhead is actually 1000 feet east up the road, on the south side of Historic Highway 30, just over the historic bridge.  You'll see a bench just after crossing the bridge and a trail. This is the beginning of the hike. You'll also see a sign for the pioneer cemetery here.
 
Follow the trail past the pioneer cemetery as you follow Mosier Creek on your right (to the west). Soon you'll come to a viewpoint overlooking Mosier Creek Falls and the canyon walls of Mosier Creek. Continue on the trail making your way to a series of switchbacks and four sets of stairs, arriving at the top of the plateau. Here you'll find yourself at the view point, soaking up the outstanding Gorge views and agriculture of the Mosier Valley. Continue down the trail to where it meets the gravel driveway and foundation of what used to be a garage. Just past the foundation on your left you will find a loop trail on the lower part of the plateau. Hike this lower loop and start heading back the way you came for your return trip back to your car. 
 
NEW! Spring 2017 - Watch a three-minute Grant's Getaways segment about Gorge Towns to Trails featuring Mosier Plateau and Mosier businesses.

Spring 2016 - Watch a nine-minute segment from Garden Time TV about the wildflowers on this trail and Friends' Land Trust.

Read an article from the local newspaper about the making of this trail.
 
Watch a short video about the Mosier Plateau hike being the first completed trail segment for Gorge Towns to Trails.
 
Trail Highlights:
  • Best time to hike is March through May, with the peak of the wildflowers being mid-to-late April. (Over 30 different flower species have been counted!)
  • Best time to swim in Mosier Creek (local swimming hole) is July and August, when the water is the warmest.
  • Best time for solitude is a full moon evening hike or a hazy day hike at dusk in the late summer or early fall.
  • Best time to observe bald eagles soaring at the edge of the plateau is in January at the lower bench on the lower loop just below the concrete foundation.
  • Wildlife is abundant in winter and early spring (lots of deer and turkey have been observed).

Rules of the Trail
To ensure the best experience for you and other hikers please follow these rules:
  • Start your hike at the Mosier City parking lot between Hwy 30 and the railroad below the Mosier Totem Pole.
  • Stay on designated trails (There are sensitive plants, cliff edges, and private property very close to trails in some areas).
  • No motorized vehicles, horses, or bicycles on trails. Steepness and trail construction is designed for pedestrians only plus motorized vehicles could precipitate fires in the summer.
  • Smoking and fires are prohibited.
  • Please keep your dog on leash to protect wildlife and the neighbors' pets and to keep your dog safe from ticks and poison oak.
  • No hunting (neighbors have requested this and Friends would like as much wildlife as possible on the land).

Stewardship Efforts have Included (and will continue to):
  • Friends’ member Tom Wood installed three bluebird boxes. Five chicks hatched the first year they were installed.  Bluebird population has declined due to habitat loss and the introduction of house sparrows and European starlings. Building birdboxes in an open wooded habitat is one way it help this situation.
  • Removing teasel, skeleton weed and knapweed since 2007.
  • Removing lower tree limbs to reduce fire risk.
Join us for an upcoming stewardship work party on this beautiful property. 
 
History
  • The neighbor who at one time owned the property stated that his relatives had a few cattle on the property 75 to 100 years ago.
  • Since the late 1950's a "microwave station" has been at the top of the property. It is used for the city of Mosier to send signals to firepersons in the Mosier Valley for fire calls. There is also a cell tower lease that has been in place for about 15 years.
  • In the early 1990's, there were two manufactured houses placed on the property. The owner lived in one and rented out the other one (two separate properties of 20 and 22 acres). In 2005, Nancy Russell, Friends' founder, bought the parcels with the manufactured homes and garages for $900,000, it was the height of the real estate market.
  • In 2007, Nancy sold both manufactured homes to a low income housing provider in The Dalles.
  • In December 2007, Friends Land Trust received the land from Nancy as a donation.
  • In early 2008, Friends Land Trust bought an adjacent parcel of land, totaling 2.65 acres. This is the property at the edge of the bluff and in the urban area.
  • Today, the Mosier Plateau includes 44 acres (3 different land parcels) to create approximately 3.5-mile (round-trip) out-and-back trail.

Driving Directions

Mosier Plateau Trailhead:  From I-84, take Exit #69/Mosier. Follow the Historic Columbia River Highway into town. Pull into the parking area just past the Mosier totem pole located mid-town on left/north side of road. Park between Hwy 30 and the railroad tracks. A wayfinding sign is located here directing you to the trailhead. There is an outhouse close to the totem pole. Do not park at the Mosier Senior Center - your vehicle will be towed.

Begin the hike close to the totem pole in Mosier. The trailhead is actually 1000 yards east up the road, on the south side of Historic Highway 30, just over the historic bridge.  You'll see a bench just after crossing the bridge and a trail. This is the beginning of the hike. You'll also see a sign for the pioneer cemetery here. 

No motorized vehicles, horses, or bicycles on trails. Please keep your dogs on leash to avoid poison oak, ticks, and protect wildlife and avoid intrusion onto neighboring properties. Steepness and trail construction is designed for pedestrians only plus motorized vehicles could precipitate fires in the summer.

Community Connection

Lyle Cherry Orchard’s trailhead is located approximately one mile from the Gorge town of Lyle and is home to the “Lyle” sign that sits above the community. Since this preserve was opened to the public the Lyle Cherry Orchard has provided the community with an accessible natural space right in their back yard. The sunny and dry preserve is the perfect hiking spot to visit during the rainier fall days in the western gorge. Visitors from the Gorge and beyond recreate on Lyle Cherry Orchard and in turn support the local economy.

Photo: View of town of Lyle from Lyle Cherry Orchard (Debbie Asakawa)

Preserve Story

The property where Lyle Cherry Orchard Preserve lies currently was once grazing land for cattle and as the name suggests the eastern part of the preserve held a cherry orchard. The orchard and its trees were well abandoned by the time Nancy Russell purchased the property piece by piece in the 1990’s and later donated it to Friends in 2009. Nancy purchased the property when it came up for sale because it was within key viewing areas on the Oregon side of the Gorge and would have most likely become subdivided for development.

The land is also home to remnants of Lyle Convict Road, a demonstration road built by Sam Hill to convince Washington legislators to fund a Columbia River Highway. When Washington showed no interest in Sam’s project, he invited the entire Oregon legislature to his Maryhill estate to see his "Good Roads" work and Oregon quickly agreed to build on their side of the river what is today the Historic Columbia River Highway.

The trail at Lyle Cherry Orchard was started in when Friends' founder Nancy Russell purchased the property and has been open to the public and maintained Friends and its land trust ever since. In 2019, Washington Trails Association started work to reroute some parts of the trail and add new trail to explore for the benefit of Gorge residents.

In 2013, the land trust and volunteers removed a dilapidated house and outbuildings on the southwestern end of the property. Countless hours were spent removing building materials, old vehicles, garbage, and debris. In 2015 volunteers removed over 1,700 feet of fencing material on the property to allow for the free movement of wildlife across the landscape. Without the help of Friends volunteers and Gorge community members, projects like this would not be possible.

Photos: Before and after cleanup at Lyle Cherry Orchard (Friends' archive)