On a beautiful day like today, my first instinct is to drive to the Gorge for a hike. But I’m not doing that.
We all have a role to play as responsible stewards for the Columbia Gorge. And those of us who live in the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan area owe it to our fellow citizens who live in Gorge communities to give Gorge trails a break today and in the coming days.
We must all support federal, state, and local health officials by following current social distancing guidance. We also must support the efforts by Gorge officials and public land managers to keep both Gorge trails and their communities safe.
Yesterday, according to numerous reports received from Gorge residents and community leaders, a number of trailheads and other recreation sites around the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area were filled with crowds and long bathroom lines. Crowded trailheads just increase the burden for local land managers responsible for cleaning and maintaining public lands throughout the Gorge. And accidents or falls from visitors on the trails could put Gorge search and rescue groups at greater risk and increase strains on local hospitals.
By all means, get out and enjoy the sunshine today. But please consider doing so within the vicinity of your home. Your community will thank you and the Gorge will thank you.
Stay Home, Stay LocalMost trails in the Columbia Gorge are now closed to the public due to the social distancing measures enacted by local and state health officials in Oregon and Washington. Friends of the Columbia Gorge is urging all members of the to public to stay local and give Gorge trails a break. If you can get to a neighborhood recreation spot by walking or biking, even better.
To help members of the public keep up with changes we are compiling a running list of updates as we hear from various Gorge land managers and other public officials. This list is not mean to be comprehensive and we urge you check the U.S. Forest Service, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department or Washington State Parks websites for additional information and breaking updates.
COVID-19 Gorge Trail Updates
- March 26, 2020: All U.S. Forest Service lands, including trails, closed in Columbia River Gorge.
- March 25, 2020: Friends of the Columbia Gorge Land Trust's Lyle Cherry Orchard and Mosier Plateau trails are closed, effective March 25.
- March 24, 2020: All Washington State Parks and Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife areas are closed, effective March 25.
- March 23, 2020: The Skamania County, WA, Health Officer has issued a public order closing all recreational hiking sites in the county effective 5 p.m. March 24. All cars will be subject fine or towed, and the U.S. Forest Service is posting signs at Cape Horn and Dog Mountain stressing the sites are off limits.
- March 23, 2020: All Oregon State Parks sites are closed.
- March 23, 2020: The following Gorge visitors centers and recreation sites are closed until further notice: Historic Columbia River Highway - Waterfall corridor, Horsetail Falls, Wahkeena, Angels Rest, Multnomah Falls Lodge and viewing areas, Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, and Skamania Lodge.