Hikes: Columbia Hills State Park

Located on the site of a former Two Spirits Native American village, Columbia Hills State Park is a 3,300-acre camping park in the long, rolling hills of the Columbia River Gorge. The park has a shoreline of nearly two miles of freshwater on the Columbia River, and a rushing stream that provides root soaking refreshment for trees that provide shade and animal habitat all year-round. This location along the Columbia made it the perfect stopping point for the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805 on their way to the coast.

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Horsethief Butte

Across Washington Highway 14 from the main part of Columbia Hills State Park, stands Horsethief Butte which dominates the skyline, as if guarding over Horsethief Lake like an ancient castle. The lake itself is enormous, flooded into existence by the construction of The Dalles Dam. Lupine and balsamroot bloom in mid-April, making spectacular fields of blue and gold. Songbirds fly about — like meadowlarks and woodpeckers, while larger birds of prey — like bald eagles and falcons, soar on air currents high above hikers/bikers heads. [1] We spotted a mature bald eagle with a salmon in its talons drag the fish up onto the nearby cliffs to get positioned to carry it to its nest. We even spotted a Lewis’s Woodpecker with its bright pink belly, red face and grey collar. Its iridescent green back almost appears black. Named after Meriwether Lewis, it was a fun one to watch jumping on the basalt. [2]

Lewis’s Woodpecker

The Washington State Parks commission combined the park with Dalles Mountain Ranch and renamed the area Columbia Hills State Park in 2003. Now, in addition to the more than 12 miles of hiking trails in the area, visitors can enjoy swimming, freshwater fishing, bird watching and wildlife viewing, sailboarding, and playing horseshoes. Rock climbers also frequent this park.

The views on the Vista Trail are worth the slight climb, and the weather can change quickly, so be sure to bring layers, as dictated by the season. The smell of the balsamroot and sage were powerful, especially when the dark clouds descended and the ozone layer hit the ground with the raindrops. The landscape had areas with knee-high grasses, which were fun to stroke with our hands as we wandered through them.

The sound of the crackling high tension wires filled the air as we walked near them. We could almost feel the powerful EMF emission leaks all around us. So much for the efficiency of electrical exchange in the Bonneville Power grid.

Thirty-Five Years of hiking together is a good start



[1] https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/columbia-hills-state-park

[2]  https://henryehooper.blog/birds-lewiss-woodpecker/