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Nesmith Point

or

Star Star Star Star Star

Distance: 4.0 miles


This 9.8-mile loop takes you to the second highest point in the Oregon section of the scenic Columbia River Gorge, and will take you around six hours roundtrip. Beginning at roughly 75' above sea level, you'll climb 3800' in just under five miles, making this a fairly difficult jaunt. Most of the elevation gain will be tackled in the first three miles of the trek. As you ascend the switchback-ridden trail you'll encounter several different landscapes, each boasting distinctly different flora and fauna, with wildflowers and Devil's Club being the constant exception. There are occasional views across the river to Washington's Beacon Rock and Mt. Adams, and bird's eye views both up and down the Gorge along your hike to the Point. The last 3/4 of a mile will be on an abandoned road through sparse vegetation and trees up to Nesmith Point, where a fire lookout tower once stood, and the remnants of an outhouse can be found thirty yards from the Point. An excellent view of Washington's flat-topped Mt. St. Helens, Beacon Rock, Mt. Adams and Silverstar can be had from a short 200 yard jaunt past the point on a well-used trail.

My girlfriend and I tackled this hike in about six hours, not counting the few minutes here and there to rest, and a half hour break to eat lunch at the Point. Started around 11:30 AM and kept a fairly steady pace, with the tough terrain warranting a 5 minute break every 45 minutes or so. The trail is well-maintained, and we only ran into four other hikers, albeit we hiked this one on a monday. Along the way we caught glimpses across the river from time to time, on several occasions via short side trails, so keep your eyes out at likely spots for those. At the trailhead there is a cistern of some sort spewing water, not sure what that was all about, but there is a reccuring pipe you'll run into throughout your hike, only about three inches in diameter, undoubtedly collecting water from an unseen source and piping it to the cistern. On several occasions the trail opened up to provide some pretty neat views of cliffsides and intricately carved canyons in the Gorge. Overall a great dayhike, perfect for getting those legs into shape for the bigger backpacking trips of your season!

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