After more than a year since its closure due to the Eagle Creek Fire, a 6-mile stretch of the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail, a paved bike and walking path, has reopened between the John B. Yeon Trailhead and Cascade Locks, Ore.
This section of the trail had been closed since Sept. 4, 2017, two days after the Eagle Creek Fire started, according to a news release from the U.S. Forest Service.
However, the Historic Columbia River Highway is still closed between Bridal Veil, Ore., and Ainsworth State Park. There is still no timeline for when it will open again.
“The reopening of the (Historic Columbia River Highway) State Trail is a major step in the economic recovery of the region and brings us a step closer to make sure visitors from across the state and around the world can again fully experience the majesty this area has to offer,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said in a news release.
Other sites in the burn area have also reopened, with a few caveats.
The U.S. Forest Service parking lot and day-use/picnic area at the Eagle Creek Recreation Site have reopened. However, the trailhead area and trail itself are still closed. Federal forest lands north of Interstate 84 near Eagle Creek Overlook Campground, a common spot for fishing or viewing the Columbia River, is open again. The John B. Yeon Trailhead parking lot is open. However, the unpaved hiking trails at John B. Yeon and Elowah Falls are still closed.
A number of other sites managed by federal and state agencies within the Gorge are still closed.
Reopening recreational sites in the Gorge has required the removal of hazardous trees and knocking down loose rocks in danger of falling near Eagle Creek, and the erection of protective fencing. Visitors should stay vigilant and cautious while out on the trail, as potential hazards remain. In the future, periodic closures may be needed to remove them.
Traffic congestion is an ongoing problem at Gorge recreational sites.
The Oregon Department of Transportation recommends visitors use the Columbia Gorge Express from the Gateway Transit Center, if possible. Parking is ample and free on weekends. Round-trip bus tickets to Multnomah Falls are $5 per person, and children 6 and younger ride free. Tickets are available at ColumbiaGorgeExpress.com.