The year is kicking off with some good news for outdoor enthusiasts.
Several of the most popular hiking trails in the Columbia River Gorge are back open—some of them for the first time since the devastating Eagle Creek Fire three years ago.
That list includes the Eagle Creek Trail, where in September 2017 a teenager tossed fireworks into dry brush, causing a blaze that ended up burning 49,000 acres.
Other reopened trails include the Wahclella Falls Trail, the Gorge 400 Trail and the Larch Mountain Trail. (Some trails were closed due to COVID-19 precautions.)
Volunteer groups, such as the Pacific Crest Trail Association, Trailkeepers of Oregon, Washington Trails Association and Friends of the Columbia Gorge teams, have worked alongside the Forest Service and Oregon State Parks to make those trails safe for recreation again.
Officials, however, are urging hikers to avoid the trails in conditions such as those we're experiencing this weekend—high winds and rain can knock over trees and, in burn areas, cause landslides.
"Historically, we see a very high volume of search and rescue calls in that area," Hood River County Sheriff Matt English said in a press release. "A large portion of those incidents are avoidable as they have been attributed to lack of preparation or engagement in high-risk behaviors."