14936
Oregon

Choose Your Pace: Hiking the Spectacular Columbia River Gorge

Join local experts to hike at your own pace and learn about the Columbia River Gorge, explore historic sites, take in awe-inspiring vistas and witness spectacular waterfalls.
Rating (5)
Program No. 14936RJ
Length
7 days
Starts at
1,229
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7 days
6 nights
16 meals
6 B 5 L 5 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Cascade Locks, OR
D
Best Western Plus Columbia River Inn

Activity note: Check-in from 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 4:00-5:30 p.m. After you have your room assignment, join us in the Road Scholar meeting room (ground floor near elevator across from room 101) to pick up your welcome packet containing the group roster and up-to-date schedule that reflects any changes, other important information, and to confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Remember to bring your name-tag (sent previously). Take some time to unpack, freshen up, and relax. We will gather at 5:30 p.m. to meet our fellow Road Scholars and enjoy some group socializing activities.

Dinner: At 6:15 p.m. in the restaurant next door, we’ll have plated meals with a pre-selected main course, side dishes, roll, salad bar, cookies, coffee, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Participants in this physically demanding and challenging program can “Choose Your Pace” between two daily hikes. Hiking distances will be at least 4 miles per day with elevation gains of up to 700 feet. Hikes and presentations will be conducted by Group Leaders and local experts. For each route, participants will need to keep up with the group’s hiking pace; most hikes can be shortened according to personal needs. Groups typically start at the same location. The program is staffed with a resident instructor as well as a Group Leader, both of whom will deliver educational content. Transportation will be via 15-person vans. We strongly encourage participants to bring and refill personal water bottles each day. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
Cascade Locks, Beacon Rock, Wahclella Falls, Bonneville Dam
Cascade Locks, OR
B,L,D
Best Western Plus Columbia River Inn

Activity note: Getting in/out of a van; driving about 14 miles, approximately 1 hour round-trip. “Choose Your Pace” from routes around Beacon Rock, up to 4.5 miles, up to 900 feet elevation gain/loss; hiking on switchbacks cut out of the rock with handrails on the side.

Breakfast: In the adjacent restaurant, we’ll order from a select menu with choices such as eggs, pancakes, cereal, and juice or coffee. We will then gather in our meeting room to assemble our own sack lunches with sandwich, snack, and fruit choices. Remember to bring and fill your personal water bottle to take along.

Morning: During a walk with our instructor to Cascade Locks Marine Park, we’ll orient ourselves to the town. Among the highlights is the Oregon Pony, the first steam engine in the Pacific Northwest. There is also a walking bridge crossing the remains of the original shipping locks, connecting the Marine Park with 3-acre Thunder Island that was carved out of the mainland in 1890. Returning from our walk, we’ll have our first daily orientation at 9:45 a.m. Then, at 10:30 a.m., we’ll set out via 15-person vans for Beacon Rock, an 848-foot monolith with views of the Bonneville Dam. On October 31, 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition arrived here and first measured tides on the river, indicating that they were nearing the ocean.

Lunch: At the marina in Beacon Rock State Park, we’ll have the sack lunches we prepared with views of Beacon Rock and the Columbia River.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll ride to the trailhead and begin our first hike to Wahclella Falls in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area (2.0 miles round trip, 380 foot elevation gain). We will see Wahclella Falls nestled in its rock grotto before retracing our steps to the trailhead. Our instructor and Group Leader will point out plants and animals we see along the way. Next, we’ll explore Bonneville Dam with a dam Ranger. Completed in 1937, it was a showpiece of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. At the time, its single lift navigation lock was the largest in the world. We’ll learn about the dam and see how native salmon and steelhead salmon navigate fish ladders to get past the dam on their journey upstream to spawn. We’ll return to the hotel lodging with some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At a local church, we’ll have a home-cooked meal and meet people from the community.

Evening: Returning to the hotel, we’ll have a presentation by a local expert on a topic relevant to the program theme. The presentation will end about 9:00 p.m.

DAY
3
Falls Creek Falls, Red Mountain Plateau, Multnomah Falls
Cascade Locks, OR
B,L,D
Best Western Plus Columbia River Inn

Activity note: Getting in/out of a van; driving about 50 miles, approximately 1.5 hours round-trip. “Choose Your Pace” from routes to Falls Creek Falls with distances of 3.4 miles round-trip (650 feet elevation gain) to 6.5 miles (1,020 feet elevation gain); forested trail with a few logs and rocks to step over.

Breakfast: In the adjacent restaurant. We will then gather in our meeting room to assemble our own sack lunches with sandwich, snack, and fruit choices. Remember to bring and fill your personal water bottle to take along.

Morning: We’ll hop into our vans and ride to the Falls Creek Falls trailhead. We will then hike to one of the largest and most powerful waterfalls in southern Washington with some time to rest at the falls and appreciate it. Our instructor and Group Leader will point out plants and animals we see along the way.

Lunch: On the trail, we’ll have the sack lunches we prepared and enjoy views of this spectacular waterfall.

Afternoon: Those on the shorter route will complete their Falls Creek Falls hike back to the vans. Those who would like a longer hike longer will continue for up to 3 more miles one way to Red Mountain plateau above the falls.

Dinner: We will ride to historic Multnomah Falls Lodge and order from a select menu with choices of main course, salad, dessert, and beverage choices of coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase. Built in 1925, the Lodge exemplifies Cascadian-style stone and timber architecture. We’ll enjoy a fine meal in this relaxing ambience.

Evening: Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the evening is at leisure.

DAY
4
Cape Horn, Skamania Lodge, Hood River
Cascade Locks, OR
B,L
Best Western Plus Columbia River Inn

Activity note: Getting in/out of a van; driving about 36 miles, approximately 1 hour round-trip. “Choose Your Pace” from routes to Cape Horn with distances of 4.0 miles round-trip (200 feet elevation gain) to 5.6 miles one way with van shuttle (810 feet elevation gain); dirt trail, minimal rocks and branches.

Breakfast: In the adjacent restaurant. We will then gather in our meeting room to assemble our own sack lunches with sandwich, snack, and fruit choices. Remember to bring and fill your personal water bottle to take along.

Morning: We’ll ride in our vans to the Cape Horn trailhead, then hike along the routes of our choosing above Cape Horn’s basalt cliffs for views of Columbia River.

Lunch: On the trail, we’ll have the sack lunches we prepared and enjoy views overlooking the Columbia River.

Afternoon: We will drive to Skamania Lodge for free time to relax and enjoy the views of Columbia River Gorge. Built in 1993, the lodge — tastefully constructed and decorated in Northwest style — is nestled amongst the trees overlooking the Columbia River Gorge and a golf course. The Group Leader will accompany those who wish to ride back to our hotel in Cascade Locks to freshen up and relax.

Dinner: We’ll ride in the vans to Hood River. This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like in Hood River. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. There are many eateries in Hood River with food and drink ranging from simple home-style meals to gourmet offerings; outstanding wine to hand-crafted beers. In this rich agricultural region, the food is fresh and local.

Evening: Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the evening is at leisure.

DAY
5
Falls Hikes: Multnomah, Wahkeena, Latourell, Bridal Veil
Cascade Locks, OR
B,L,D
Best Western Plus Columbia River Inn

Activity note: Getting in/out of a van; driving about 26 miles, approximately 1 hour round-trip. “Choose Your Pace” from routes to different falls with distances of 1 mile (200 feet elevation gain) and 2.5 miles (800 feet elevation gain); dirt paths, sections on paved asphalt, sections on basalt rock cut out for the trail.

Breakfast: In the adjacent restaurant. We will then gather in our meeting room to assemble our own sack lunches with sandwich, snack, and fruit choices. Remember to bring and fill your personal water bottle to take along.

Morning: We’ll drive in our vans to the trailhead then hike along the routes of our choosing. The shorter route will go to 3 waterfalls over 2.5 miles round-trip (800 feet elevation gain). The longer route will go from Multnomah Falls to Wahkeena Falls, a 5.4-mile loop (1600 feet elevation gain).

Lunch: On the trail, we’ll have the sack lunches we prepared.

Afternoon: We’ll choose between a hike to Latourell Falls with its majestic lime colored basalt cliffs, 1 mile round-trip (100 feet elevation gain); and Bridal Veil Falls, 1 mile round-trip (200 feet elevation gain).

Dinner: In our meeting room at the hotel, our meal will feature salmon chowder, pizza, dessert, lemonade, water; no other beverages available, bring your own if you like.

Evening: We’ll gather with one of our instructors for a presentation on local history and geology that will end by about 9:00 p.m.

DAY
6
Larch Mountain Hikes
Cascade Locks, OR
B,L,D
Best Western Plus Columbia River Inn

Activity note: Getting in/out of a van; driving about 80 miles, approximately 2 hours round trip. “Choose Your Pace” from routes to Larch Mountain, from 4.5 to 6 miles, up to 1,300 feet elevation gain; soft dirt trail amid Douglas fir and Hemlock forest with a few trees to step over.

Breakfast: In the adjacent restaurant. We will then gather in our meeting room to assemble our own sack lunches with sandwich, snack, and fruit choices. Remember to bring and fill your personal water bottle to take along.

Morning: We will hope into our vans and ride to the trailhead. We will then hike at Larch Mountain for views of the surrounding Cascade Mountains in an old growth forest and through an extinct volcano crater. Shorter route 4.5 mile loop (1,300 feet descent); longer route 5 mile loop (1600 feet descent and ascent).

Lunch: On the trail, we’ll have the sack lunches we prepared with views of the Columbia River and surrounding basalt layers.

Afternoon: We will continue and complete our Larch mountain hikes, then drive to Vista House at Crown Point overlooking the entrance to Columbia River Gorge. Vista House staff will give us an introduction followed by time for self-directed exploration.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have plated meals with pre-selected main course, side dishes, roll, salad bar, cookies, coffee, water included; other beverages available for purchase. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: Walking back to the hotel, we’ll have a closing session that will end by 9:00 p.m.

DAY
7
Program Concludes
Cascade Locks, OR
B

Activity note: Shuttle departs at 9:00 a.m., arriving at Portland airport 10:00 a.m. Allow 90 minutes for check-in security clearance. Hotel check-out 12:00 Noon.

Breakfast: In the adjacent restaurant. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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