It's been a great month in Portland. Unless you count the hellish blaze ripping through Columbia Gorge and the ash raining down from the heavens that followed.
The Eagle Creek fire is the result of teenage idiocy—let's just call it what it is—and the result of that result is environmentally horrendous. As of this week, it combined with the Indian Creek fire and has burned over 35,000 acres of wilderness. That's bigger than Disney World.
There aren't any reported human casualties. But the damage to the Gorge—one of the most popular hiking and camping areas in the entire state—is already catastrophic. To gain some sense of it all, we've compiled a list of the most popular burned and/or closed areas, in an effort to eulogize the massive loss of nature.
This was one of the most accessible and well-maintained waterfalls in the gorge. Now there's nothing but blackened wood and beautiful bridge and grotto-like amphitheater.
This unmaintained trail offered one of the best viewpoints of the gorge, though you'd have to get past a slightly treacherous scramble chimney. Trust us; the view was worth it. Was.
Near the heart of the fire, the hike to Wauna Point passed several unnamed waterfalls. Once you got to the top, panoramic views of the gorge abound.
It could be difficult finding the right trails on this hike, but the view—which looked West down the Columbia River—was more than worth it. Too bad the whole area's up in flames.
Created by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression, the Overlook included a picnic area and popular group campground with connections to all sorts of hikes. Normally, it's open from May 1 to September 30, when the fire will reportedly be contained.
One of the most challenging hikes in the gorge was also one of the most revered, probably for the sheer number of photo ops. The loop gives you a tour of the entire gorge, complete with waterfalls and cliff views.
This magnificent trail of waterfalls is one of the most popular in the entire gorge. Full of lush forestation, cliffs, streams and strange rock formations, it lies in the middle of the wildfire and likely will take years to fully recover.
The Eagle Creek-to-Wahtum Lake trek was a favorite for backpackers that connected with the Pacific Crest Trail for a three-to-four day hike. Now, the lake may be completely unaccessible from the Columbia River thanks to the fire.
It turns out Oregon has a lot of waterfalls. Dry Creek Falls just happens to be a highlight; it never runs dry, even during the warmest parts of the summer. It's probably still fine, though the surrounding area
Mist Falls is not for the faint of heart. Last year, I cracked a rib trying to tackle the scramble down alone in the rain. The folks at @sharethewild recently sent me a set of their carbon fiber hiking poles, so I thought the best way to test them out was by tackling the hike that bested me last year. That trail is still sketchy as hell, but good weather, good friends (thanks @oregonjenna & @stanleymegan) and good gear make all the difference. 2017/12. #mistfalls #mistfallsoregon #columbiagorge #columbiarivergorge #sharethewild #oregonwaterfalls #cascadiaexplored #pnwonderland #oregonexplored #getoutdoors #getoutside #intothewild #traveloregon #oregonnw #upperleftusa #staywild #neverstopexploring #pnwdiscovered #optoutside
This Multnomah Area hike offered a view of a gorgeous waterfall and a deceptively easy-looking hike.
Trails to this extinct volcano are currently closed to the public. Before the area caught fire, the trail—built in 1915—took hikers across bridges and up a mountain with a relatively steady incline.
The best way to see Horsetail Falls was the main loop. It's low elevation and gave hikers great views of three different waterfalls and Oneonta Gorge.
Wahkeena Falls is one of the most popular destinations in the entire gorge. But the area's currently closed, and the fire has spread nearby. The future for the hike is unknown.
Bridal Veil Falls
The short hike to Bridal Veil Falls is a tourist favorite. Be sure to check out all of the hearts carved into the lookout railing, once the area is actually open to the public and not on fire.