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
- Distance: 10.0
Location: 45.589445, -122.1789746
Trailhead on west side of Salmon Falls Rd.
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.
Location: 45.5920427, -122.184788
Fork in the trail; bear left.
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.
Location: 45.5893743, -122.1901209
Another viewpoint of the Gorge, looking east.
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.
Location: 45.5885472, -122.1948319
Trail resumes on your left.
Location: 45.5855724, -122.199018
The trail ends here at Strunk Rd. Follow the road right to a T intersection.
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.
Location: 45.5787167, -122.1990287
Rim Rd. ends and trail resumes.
Location: 45.5789495, -122.1973014
Descending switchbacks, turn right at this junction.
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.
Location: 45.5746308, -122.1958503
Pass the ruins of an old shed here.
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.
Location: 45.5692616, -122.1999052
Nice view of the Columbia Gorge here.
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.
Location: 45.5670768, -122.1998537
Small point with excellent view of the Gorge eastward. Notice the basalt cliffs and pinnacles along the Columbia River.
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.
Location: 45.5740426, -122.1941192
Notice the eastern side of the railroad tunnel.
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.
Location: 45.5890407, -122.1787572
Back at park & ride lot.
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
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
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
Location: 45.5891463, -122.1913791
Lots of early-season trillium to be found on this loop. © Eli Boschetto
Location: 45.577778, -122.1954989
View of the Columbia Gorge eastward, with Beacon Rock. © Eli Boschetto
Location: 45.5719653, -122.1978807
As trillium start to die off, they turn from bright white to pinks and purples. © Eli Boschetto
Location: 45.5705233, -122.1990395
Find clusters of these little beauties on slopes and trailside. © Eli Boschetto
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
Location: 45.5709514, -122.1970707
Cool off on those warm days, as the trail passes directly behind this small waterfall. © Eli Boschetto