Weldon Wagon Trail is a lesser-traveled Gorge option for spring beauty

first_imgWeldon Wagon Trail is a lesser-traveled Gorge option for spring beauty Ticks and poison oak also cling to the rugged hillsides, and visitors are reminded to keep an eye out for the noxious weed, and check for ticks when you get home.This is a family-friendly trail where visitors can catch glimpses of squirrels, deer, and other wildlife if they keep their eyes open. Vultures circle overhead, and at times you can catch the sound of gobbling wild turkeys.We had tried the trail at the suggestion of Ryan Ojerio of the Washington Trails Association.“It’s up in the oak woodlands, and kind of off the beaten track,” said Ojerio. “It’s uphill, but not like Dog Mountain. It’s a steady climb but not a grind.” A diminutive grass widow blooms along the Weldon Wagon Trail. April and May are the best months to hike among the beauty of blossoming springtime wildflowers in the eastern Cascades. Photo Share: By Terry Otto, Columbian staff writer Published: April 3, 2019, 9:40pm [email protected] We were a little early for most of the spring wildflowers, but the grass widows were in bloom, their tiny reddish-purple petals nodding in the slight breeze as they peeked out from shrubs still barren of spring green.The cheerful but diminutive flowers and the fresh greens of the meadow grasses held your gaze, and when you looked up the sweeping views of the White Salmon River Valley were breathtaking. Spread out below were the fields and farms of the valley, set against the rising flanks of the fir-clad Cascade Mountains.To the south, Mount Hood rose white and stark, snoozing in the spring sunshine.The Weldon Wagon Trail is one of the lesser-travelled eastside Columbia River Gorge trails where hikers can enjoy the spring show of wildflowers. It is a 5.2-mile round-trip, up and back, that follows a historic wagon road once used by fruit growers in the highlands to deliver their produce to the town of Husum.Built in the early 1900s by Elwin Weldon and Henry Hyndman, the road replaced the old method of getting fruit to market, which was done by loading sleds with produce and sliding them down the steep slopes. GO He had me at “not a grind,” and “off the beaten track,” so we gave it a try, and were glad we did.For those hikers that are looking for the less crowded trails, he also suggested the Lyle Cherry Orchard Trail.“It is steeper,” said Ojerio, “It has wild flowers. It is not as impressive as Dog Mountain, but it has some cool flowers.”It is about the same length as the Weldon Wagon Trail, and it also affords some prime eastside views. Share: Follow The Columbian on Instagram By signing up you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. Hikers are also reminded that parking is an issue at the Dog Mountain trailhead. You can park at the Skamania County Fairgrounds and catch the Dog Mountain shuttle to help ease the congestion. The price of the shuttle is $2, but the day use pass is free when you take the shuttle.Weldon Wagon TrailTo get there: From the Hood River Bridge, turn left and go 1.6 miles on Highway 14. Turn right onto State Route 141A and follow for two miles. Turn left to continue on 141 for 3.8 miles and turn right onto Indian Creek Road. Follow this for half a mile and turn left onto Indian Cemetery Road. Less than half a mile farther is an unmarked Jeep road and room to park. Follow the jeep road until you see the sign for the trail.Much of the trail winds through private lands, so please stay on the path.Lyle Cherry Orchard TrailTo get there: From the Hood River Bridge, drive east along Highway 14, and just past the town of Lyle, look for the gravel parking lot on the north side of the road.The land is owned by Friends of the Columbia Gorge Land Trust, who ask you to use the boot brush to clean your boots before and after using the trail to help stop the spread of yellow starthistle, an invasive plant.For more information about Weldon Wagon go to the Washington Trails Association website at: https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/weldon-wagon-road Receive latest stories and local news in your email: Terry Otto Columbian staff writer In addition to the grass widows, hikers in the springtime may find the Columbia Gorge broad-leaf lupine, Barret’s Penstemon, Columbia kittentail, the Columbia Gorge daisy, poets shooting star, and a number of desert parsley’s and countless other wildflowers.April through May is the best time to go, and although rain is predicted for the coming week, those rains will only help juice-up the show when the sun returns.Although not quite as impressive as the Dog Mountain trail, these hikes are excellent quiet alternatives if you do not like the crowds at the popular trail.Hikers are reminded that if they hike the Dog Mountain trail system a day-use permit ($1.50) is required on the weekends starting March 31 and lasting until July 1. Follow Since it is a wagon trail the grade is gentle. The trail climbs through meadows and white oak stands, and near the top hikers pass through the White Salmon Oak Natural Resources Conservation Area. It is up here in the ridgetop meadows that the best views are to be had.Interpretive signs along the trail explain that the conservation area’s focus are the white oaks, so important to wildlife. The acorns feed deer, wild turkey, and squirrels.At times the old road bed is still easy to distinguish. You can almost see the horses as they plodded down the slopes in front of wagons loaded with fruit, and straining against their traces as they made the climb back up.The trail rises a little over 1200 feet, and while the trail slopes gently, the landscape does not. Meadows and groves of trees cling precariously to the steep slopes. Scattered Ponderosa pines tower over the gnarled oaks, and tall Douglas firs fill the shady draws. Buy this Photo Jeff Otto hikes the upper part of the Weldon Wagon Road Trail in Klickitat County. The trail is an un-crowded alternative for hikers looking for spring wildflowers on the east side of the Cascade Mountains. Photos by Terry Otto/The Columbian last_img

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