Columbia River Gorge, Ore. — August 26, 2019 – Wahclella Falls Trail, a popular waterfall hike in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, reopened today for the first time since Eagle Creek Fire.
The trail was closed the evening of Sept. 4, 2017, two days after the 48,000-acre Eagle Creek Fire ignited. In 2018, a Forest Service trail crew repairing the trail encountered large rocks, some as large as basketballs, falling from the slopes above the hike. By spring of 2019, landslides and rockfall had altered parts of the trail and more work was needed to clear and stabilize it.
The trail offers a 2.4 mile out-and-back day hike through a slot canyon to a waterfall. The main part of the trail has been cleared and stabilized, but the upper section of the trail’s loop remains closed due to a damaged bridge and washouts sustained during and after the fire. For your safety, respect closure signs and stay out of closed areas.
Another section of the Gorge 400 Trail, between Eagle Creek Recreation Area and the town of Cascade Locks, also opened today for the first time since the fire. Note, nearby Ruckel Creek Trail and the Gorge 400 Trail between Angels Rest and Eagle Creek Recreation Area remain closed.
In these trails and in any backcountry environment, hikers should wear sturdy footwear and bring sufficient supplies to survive overnight (food, water, headlamps, extra clothing and shelter). Bring a map, compass, and flashlight, as burned areas can be hard to navigate, especially in the dark. Hikers should consider avoiding areas burned during Eagle Creek Fire during high winds, heavy rains, and winter storms, as these conditions can trigger tree fall and landslides.
Many hiking trails in the Columbia River Gorge remain closed due hazards caused by the fire, which destabilized the landscape when it burned away the vegetation along steep slopes. To check the status of Forest Service hiking trails in the Gorge, visithttps://www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/crgnsa/recreation.
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The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area encompasses 292,500 acres of Washington and Oregon, where the Columbia River cuts a spectacular river canyon through the Cascade Mountains. The USDA Forest Service manages National Forest lands in the National Scenic Area and works with the Gorge Commission, states, counties, treaty tribes, and partners to protect and enhance scenic, natural, cultural, and recreational resources of the Columbia River Gorge while encouraging local economic development consistent with that protection. Learn more at www.fs.usda.gov/crgnsa or follow updates atfacebook.com/crgnsa or www.twitter.com/crgnsa.