Several popular trails in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area have opened, some for the first time since the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire.
Several trails have been closed since the Eagle Creek Fire that burned 48,000 acres in early September, 2017 while others were closed for public safety due to COVID-19. Trails re-opening Friday include the Eagle Creek Trail, the Wahclella Trail, the Gorge 400 Trail (specifically, Eagle Creek to John B. Yeon State Park and Ainsworth State Park to Horsetail Falls), the Larch Mountain Trail between Multnomah Falls and the Wahkeena Trail.
For more than three years, the Forest Service and Oregon State Parks have worked side-by-side with the Gorge Trails Recovery Team which includes Pacific Crest Trail Association, Trailkeepers of Oregon, Washington Trails Association, and Friends of the Columbia Gorge. Employees and volunteers worked thousands of hours to clear and rebuild trails, cut and move downed trees, replace bridges, rebuild structures, and mitigate invasive species in order to make the trails available for hiking.
“The reopening of the Eagle Creek Trail and other trails impacted by the Eagle Creek Fire has required working in community with each other and we would not have been able to get to this day without the dedication and service of our key partners and all the agency employees, ” said Lynn Burditt, Forest Supervisor. “On behalf of our interagency team I would like to express our gratitude to the public for your patience and support and to all the volunteers whose unwavering commitment, dedication and resources, facilitated our ability to open these trails today.”
When hiking these trails in the winter, be prepared for rapidly changing conditions and be sure to have the 10 Essentials with you.
Hikers should consider avoiding areas burned during Eagle Creek Fire during or immediately following high winds, heavy rains, and winter storms, as these conditions can trigger tree fall and landslides. “While we are very pleased to see the re-opening of this cherished trail system in the gorge, we urge those who choose to explore to employ caution on their outing,” said Hood River County Sheriff Matt English. “Historically, we see a very high volume of search and rescue calls in that area. A large portion of those incidents are avoidable as they have been attributed to lack of preparation or engagement in high-risk behaviors. While you may just plan on a quick hike, we implore recreationists to wear appropriate clothing and bring necessary supplies, preparing for worst case scenarios.”
A closure order for the fire affected area remains in place and there are still some trails within the Eagle Creek fire perimeter that remain closed.
To plan around closures and to find open outdoor recreation areas, please visit ReadySetGOrge.com and remember to be safe and always recreate responsibly. Be mindful to avoid crowded areas, large groups, practice social distancing, and wear face coverings when needed.
Source: U.S. Forest Service