The Columbia Gorge is widely known as one of the best hiking destinations in the Pacific Northwest and in the nation. You can almost stop at any place along the highway and find a beautiful hike. Tom McCall Nature Preserve, located between The Dalles and Mosier about 30 minutes from downtown Hood River, provides awe-inspiring views of the Gorge and flushes of spring wildflowers.
More than 200 plants thrive in this transition zone between the thick forests west of Hood River and the dry prairies on the east side of the Gorge. You’ll see grass widows, prairie stars, shooting stars, balsamroot, lupine, Indian paintbrush and more. These grasslands are teeming with wildlife, too. Oregon’s state bird, the meadowlark, horned lark, canyon wren and red-winged blackbird all fly overhead. You might even see a mule deer and hear the Pacific chorus frog.
This trail is only open May 1 to October 31. Since it’s a nature preserve, dogs aren’t allowed. There are no bathrooms. If you come in spring, volunteers lead interpretive hikes that teach you about the flora, fauna and landscape you’ll see along the way. It’s a great way to better appreciate and learn more about the natural beauty of the Columbia Gorge.
The preserve is a great example of the power of conservation. It’s managed and maintained by the Nature Conservancy, an organization that acquires and preserves natural lands and advocates for conservation.
Tom Mccall Nature Preserve Hood River
To hike in the Tom Mccall Nature Preserve, start at the Rowena Crest Trailhead. The trail follows two old roads full of the remains of construction work. You’ll view the Historic Columbia River Highway and an old wagon road that goes down the opposite side of the valley.
Reach the McCall Point Trail and travel up to the Rowena Plateau where you can see the arched highway bridge and Mount Defiance, which is the highest point in the Gorge at 4,959-feet. Across the river looms the beautiful Mount Adams. Continue upwards in a series of tough switchbacks to scrub oak forests and grassy plains.
Book your trip with us today, and soon you’ll be spending entire days wandering the grasslands of the Gorge and soaking in as much of this beautiful landscape and fresh air as you can.