Oregon's northern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail is a milestone for day hikers and thru-hikers, alike. Whether you’re coming off the shoulder of Mt Hood on your way to Canada, or clawing your way out of the Columbia River Gorge for a quick jaunt to a high spot to take in the spectacular view, the PCT is the vehicle to take you away.
The actual geomorphology of where the trail crosses from Oregon to Washington is fascinating. The site of an ancient landslide and now the home of the marvelous Bridge of the Gods, verbal histories passed down through the native cultures told of a land bridge that spanned the mighty Columbia after the slide, making it an important transport and trading hub. The archeology backs up the claims and it’s easy to imagine as you look down from the trail to the opposite shore and see the landmark remnants of the slide.
The trail is uphill from the little town of Cascade Locks, a story in its own rite. One of the river’s most treacherous stretches of whitewater once roared just offshore, making navigation nearly impossible. The locks were built to sneak the rapids on the inside of the river bend and open a navigable thoroughfare for commerce and the migration West.
Spend the fifty-cents and walk across the bridge to get a real sense of the river’s power. Your hike is easily rewarded with a choice of more than a handful of craft breweries nearby.