To start this snow-shoeing adventure, park at the White River West Sno-Park (no fees). This year, there was barely any snow. Typically, you will most definitely need snow-shoes to complete this. Follow the well marked path. You'll pass a lot of people depending on the day. Families go there to sled and they will bring chairs and hang out all day. You will shortly make your way past this chaos. Follow the trail up the hill to the left and through the sparse forest. A little secret is that the birds in the woods will eat out of your hand! It is an exhilarating feeling! After you emerge of the forest, you will have to make your way right down into the valley (pictured below). The more the snow, the easier this will be. Maria, Aaron and I had a rough time completing this part of the hike with the lack of snow present. You'll then climb up the next ridge and you will have the view of the above picture. You can make a loop out of the hike by traveling straight down (south) the mountain slopes until you reach the river. Stay right and on the trail that hugs the river, careful of your footing here (last picture below).
This is a popular hike in the gorge. It is accessible from The Columbia Historic Highway. I've hiked this two times, both of which were a mediocre experience. The first time, we reached the top and found ourselves in a cloud (pretty disappointing since it's a hike you do for the view at the end). The second time, we were hiking it to get that desired view and because Aaron was to write a small paper for a geology class. I'll admit, the top is cool. You can play around on the rocks and really test your fear of heights (if you have one like me). Both times we have been up there it has been insanely windy. To the point where it took the enjoyment out of it and we couldn't spend a lot of time exploring. I am curious if anyone has had a non-windy experience at the top. If it weren't windy or cold, there is a nice flat spot that would fit several groups of hikers to enjoy lunch with substantial views of the Columbia River, Mt Adams and Mt St. Helens. You pass a few waterfalls on the way. I may now have achieved "waterfall snob status" because I don't remember much of the falls (so don't do this hike if you're looking for something awesome like Ramona or Tamanawas). I also think this is a good hike to do if you're just getting your feet wet with hiking.
It's worth noting that there are a lot of cool rocks and formations: a geologists dream land. Aaron seemed pretty excited about a few parts.
We have driven past this spot several times. We've even hung out at the Pelican Pub & Brewery a few times (this park shares the same parking lot). I think you can get away without a park pass since it is in close proximity to the micro-brewery next door. I put up my state park pass up to be sure. There is a different haystack rock formation that is very similar to the one at Cannon Beach here. Did I mention there is a micro-brewery right on the beach? Serving good beer and okay food? And you can drive right up on the beach? This is a smallish park, but it offers enough room to meander. It's a place where you should take the time to look up close at the rock that you're walking on. Or, of course, watch the crashing waves onto the coastline. We combined our day with Cape Meares. I wasn't impressed with this park. There are minimal trails. I think it's good if you're there with your parents or little kids (paved trails and a visitor center). I don't think I will make the drive here again.
I moved to the Pacific Northwest in August of 2012. I quickly identified myself as a hiker. I want to document my experiences so that I can refer to them for myself and others to provide the best hiking experience. I also hope to learn more about hiking from others comments and recommendations.