Vancouver, WA: Cape Horn

Ditch the crowded, more popular Gorge trails with this 7 mile loop, chock-full of shady woods, wildflowers, big views and its own waterfall.
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Ditch the crowded, more popular Gorge trails with this 7 mile loop, chock-full of shady woods, wildflowers, big views and its own waterfall.

Looking for a Columbia Gorge hike without the crowds and parking hassles of the popular Oregon-side locations? A mere 30 minutes east of Vancouver, Cape Horn is just the ticket.

Start the trail counterclockwise at the trailhead across the street from the parking area. You'll climb up through shaded woods sprinkled with candyflower, bleeding heart, creek violet, and early-season trillium. Forget your map? Pick one up in the tree-mounted map box a short ways up the trail - it'll help guide you around some confusing junctions. Reach the top of the ridge for several views across the Gorge, including Multnomah Falls, Larch Mtn, and Beacon Rock. When you reach Strunk Rd., hang a left (east), then right (south) on gravel Rim Rd. You'll pick the trail back up at the end of Rim Rd. Look for summer blackberries along the meadows here.

Back in the woods, start descending toward the river. Cross Hwy 14, and switchback down a large rockfall to a viewpoint directly over a train tunnel with fantastic views up and down the Gorge. At this point, the trail turns east and you hike along the edge of the ridge, switchback up another rockfall, then come to pass behind a tall, wispy waterfall. Enjoy the cool spray of the falls, then finish up by ending at Cape Horn Rd. Hang a left and head up the road to your starting point.
-Mapped by Eli Boschetto, Bosco Mountain Photo

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 10.0

Waypoints

HRN001

Location: 45.589445, -122.1789746

Trailhead on west side of Salmon Falls Rd.

HRN002

Location: 45.5901296, -122.181244

A map box is mounted to a tree here; grab a copy for help with the more confusing trail junctions.

HRN003

Location: 45.5920427, -122.184788

Fork in the trail; bear left.

HRN004

Location: 45.5898088, -122.1891476

The first of several viewpoints. This one offers a view of the Columbia Gorge eastward; check out Multnomah Falls on the Oregon side.

HRN005

Location: 45.5893743, -122.1901209

Another viewpoint of the Gorge, looking east.

HRN005

Location: 45.5890976, -122.1938356

Here the trail ends at a gravel service road. Follow the road left for about a 1/4 mile; look for the trail to pick up again on the left.

HRN006

Location: 45.5885472, -122.1948319

Trail resumes on your left.

HRN007

Location: 45.5855724, -122.199018

The trail ends here at Strunk Rd. Follow the road right to a T intersection.

HRN008

Location: 45.5854372, -122.1979558

Trail resumes on gravel Rim Rd here. An alternate route would be to take the faint jeep track on the left to skirt the edge of the ridge (look for blackberries in summer!). It reconnects to Rim Rd farher down.

HRN009

Location: 45.5787167, -122.1990287

Rim Rd. ends and trail resumes.

HRN010

Location: 45.5789495, -122.1973014

Descending switchbacks, turn right at this junction.

HRN011

Location: 45.5777673, -122.1956842

Another viewpoint, this one on the basalt cliff high above Hwy 14. Gorgeous view of the Columbia Gorge eastward, and a small rock bench, perfect for a sit and a snack.

HRN012

Location: 45.5746308, -122.1958503

Pass the ruins of an old shed here.

HRN013

Location: 45.5734097, -122.1980578

Trail crosses Hwy 14; blind curves, so watch carefully for speeding cars. The trail continues straight ahead on the opposite side.

HRN014

Location: 45.5692616, -122.1999052

Nice view of the Columbia Gorge here.

HRN015

Location: 45.5669031, -122.2001767

Here the trail meets the edge of the basalt cliffs above the Columbia River. Nice view westward, and notice the train tunnel directly beneath you.

HRN016

Location: 45.5670768, -122.1998537

Small point with excellent view of the Gorge eastward. Notice the basalt cliffs and pinnacles along the Columbia River.

HRN017

Location: 45.5709411, -122.197178

Tall, wispy waterfall dropping from one of the creeks crossed earlier. The trail goes directly behind; a nice way to cool off on a hot day.

HRN018

Location: 45.5740426, -122.1941192

Notice the eastern side of the railroad tunnel.

HRN019

Location: 45.5760583, -122.1919799

Here's where the trail ends. Follow Cape Horn Rd. up to the left to return to your starting point.

HRN020

Location: 45.5890407, -122.1787572

Back at park & ride lot.

Trailhead

Location: 45.5894316, -122.1786761

Start the trail on the west side of Salmon Falls Rd., across from the park 'n ride lot. © Eli Boschetto

Map?

Location: 45.5901073, -122.1809506

Grab a map of the loop trail here. It'll help you navigate some of the confusing road and trail junctions. © Eli Boschetto

Gorge View

Location: 45.589822, -122.1888471

Reach the top of the ridge for views of the Columbia River Gorge, Multnomah Falls, and Larch Mtn. © Eli Boschetto

Trillium

Location: 45.5891463, -122.1913791

Lots of early-season trillium to be found on this loop. © Eli Boschetto

Columbia Gorge

Location: 45.577778, -122.1954989

View of the Columbia Gorge eastward, with Beacon Rock. © Eli Boschetto

Fading

Location: 45.5719653, -122.1978807

As trillium start to die off, they turn from bright white to pinks and purples. © Eli Boschetto

Stream Violet

Location: 45.5705233, -122.1990395

Find clusters of these little beauties on slopes and trailside. © Eli Boschetto

Tunnel

Location: 45.5668881, -122.1999621

Watch trains enter and exit this tunnel through the ridge directly underneath you; nice views to the west. © Eli Boschetto

Waterfall

Location: 45.5709514, -122.1970707

Cool off on those warm days, as the trail passes directly behind this small waterfall. © Eli Boschetto