Columbia Gorge Wildflower Hike – Lyle Orchards!

11 04 2015

It’s Apcolumbia gorge,hiking,lyle,lyle orchardril in Portland, OR, and this year’s warmer, drier winter has made for early wildflowers in the eastern end of the Columbia Gorge! With a window of nice weather Laura and I headed out east of the Cascades, where wildflowers carpet the sides of the valley. Laura found a less-frequented hike on the Washington State side, named Lyle Orchard. It’s about 5 miles round trip and climbs to 1,100ft – which offers a spectacular view of the Gorge and the flowers.

The trail is maintained by the Friends of the Columbia River Gorge. At trailhead, there is a welcome sign that has a slew of unpleasant warnings. lyle orchard trail,cherry orchard trail,lyle,washington,hiking,columbia gorge hiking

Take your pick. Rattlesnakes? Ticks? Cliff falls? Or poison oak? While beautiful, this trail has its perils, and the poison oak is the most obvious, as it is virtually everywhere.

poison oak,columbia gorge,lyle washington,cherry orchard trail, hiking,

Poison Oak

The trail climbs steeply through a scrubby forest. Even at lower elevation, Wildflowers are popping out all over. IMG_0103

I heeded the tick and poison oak warnings. And I only had shorts on. So I ensured I didn’t brush against any of the waxy-rusty looking leaves. It didn’t take long for the trail to open up into more and more open meadows. And the further we rose, the more flowers we glimpsed.

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Laura revels in flowers!

Lower down blue colored lupine appeared.

There were buttercups. We saw bear grass.

lupine,columbia river gorge,hiking,lyle,cherry orchard trail

Lupine

And higher up, carpets of yellow balsamroot flowers splashed the hillside.

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Balsamroot

Suksdorf's Desert Parsley

Suksdorf’s Desert Parsley

IMG_0116 Laura Winding Trail

I found the 1,000ft elevation gain a good workout. And it’s not terribly long. I got a good sweat going.

There are wineries in the area. So before you go, you might want to Google wineries near Lyle, Washington. On our return, we visited the Domaine Pouillon Winery.

Laura purchased two cases of wine at 50% off! Awesome deal.

How to get to the trailhead: Take I-84 East out of Portland. At Cascade Locks, Cross The Bridge of the Gods and head east on WA-14 past Stevenson, then Bingen, then Lyle – and east of Lyle there will be two tunnels one right after the other. The unmarked trailhead and parking lot is the next left after the 2nd tunnel.

Well worth a visit!


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