Thursday, June 6, 2019

Coyote Wall

Time to post some spring hikes!

I always begin my hiking season in the eastern Columbia River Gorge.  The weather is warmer and the wildflowers bloom earlier.  And - most important of all - when you travel east of the Cascades, there's usually less rain.

You can see why this road was closed

One mid-April Saturday, I chose to revisit a favorite trail on the Washington side of the Gorge, Coyote Wall.  A tall rocky cliff band that extended upwards from the Columbia River, it offered views and wildflowers.

Desert parsley brightens the roadside

In the spring, my hubby usually spends his weekends salmon fishing.  But so far this year's salmon run had been non-existent.  Due to the lack of fish migrating up the Columbia, wildlife officials closed the river to salmon fishing.  So I asked hubby if he wanted to come hiking with me instead.  And - surprise - he said yes!

Official trail start

Although this trail was in the Cascades rain shadow, on my chosen hiking day the forecast called for rain everywhere starting at 11 am.  Hoping to beat the wet stuff (and get a parking spot) my hubby and I left home at an early hour.  We arrived to a nearly empty lot, with only a few mountain bikers unloading nearby.  (The Coyote Wall area trails are shared with mountain bikers)

Purple parsley

The first part of the trail followed an abandoned road.  Littered with boulders fallen from the adjacent cliffs, it wasn't hard to see why this road got re-routed.  Huge clumps of yellow desert parsley poking up between the rocks brightened the roadside.

Small creek crossing

After a half mile, we came upon the trailhead proper.  Several dirt paths branched out from here, climbing the hillside.  From my last visit, I remembered the Little Maui Trail had been a favorite, so directed my hubby to head that way.

Twin cascades

Plentiful spring rains had turned the hillsides into a vivid shade of green.  We climbed past a clump of oak trees, crossed a tiny creek, and continued to wind our way towards the top.  Desert parsley was going strong, adding lots of yellow to the ultra green scene.

Green and yellow make for a colorful scene

As hubby and I ascended, the Columbia River came into view.  Briefly interrupted by a couple of polite mountain bikers, we continued our climb up the plush hillside, dodging rocks and peeping at the wildflowers dotting the slopes (well, I was looking at the wildflowers.  My fleet-footed hubby continued trekking up the hill!)

Little Maui Trail

The Little Maui trail features a creek flowing through the meadows, with two lovely waterfalls.  Although not very tall, framed by the green vegetation and yellow flowers, I thought they were most lovely - a welcome surprise in this arid portion of the Gorge.

Beautiful cascade

My hubby is a fast walker and hikes with a purpose.  I'm a meanderer, taking my time, and stopping to photograph whatever catches my eye.  Sometimes our hiking styles clash.  But today, hubby was patient, stopping to wait several times. 

Wet trail crossing

We crossed a wide gushing creek near the top of the first hills.  The trail then contoured across the slope before coming to our first major junction with the Old Ranch Road.  Taking one final look at the Columbia River winding eastward, I put my head down and began the steep climb up the side of Coyote Wall.

Lone oak and Gorge views

I'd been hoping to see some balsamroot flowers in bloom.  But so far, no luck.  Then, in the middle of my steep climb, I spotted some large yellow flowers ahead.  Could it be?  Yes, yes it was!

First balsamroot of the year!

The balsamroot was just beginning to bloom.  Happily, I pulled out my camera for an extended photo break.

Balsamroot lines the cliff edge

Our trail now followed an old road that paralleled the edge of Coyote Wall's steep, rocky canyon.  As I climbed, views opened up to the west.  I could see the Oregon side of the Gorge, and even spotted Mt Hood's white tip.

Heading down along the Little Moab trail

Although the trail climbed all the way along the cliff's perimeter, about halfway up, it dived into some thick, oak woods.  Knowing this oak forest had a reputation for ticks in the spring, my hubby and I decided to make the grove our day's turn-around point. 

Fantastic views along the ridge

For our return, I directed hubby to follow the Little Moab trail, that followed the very edge of Coyote Wall's rugged, rocky cliffs.  Oh, were the views amazing!

Coyote Wall

Not only did we have a front-row view of Coyote Wall itself, we also had in-your-face views of the Columbia River, spread out before us.  As we ascended, I noticed the clouds thickening.  Uh-oh, the predicted rain was on it's way.

Barge on the Columbia River

At one viewpoint, I spotted a barge motoring down the Columbia.  Looking over the cliff edge, I also got a glimpse of the parking area, now overflowing with vehicles.  The cars were so tiny - we still had a long ways to descend.

Well signed trails

By now it was late morning, and the rest of the world had finally awoke.  In addition to mountain bikers, hubby and I encountered a steady stream of hikers, a few in large groups.  Except for a handful of mountain bikers and three hiking parties, we'd had the trails nearly to ourselves all morning.  Starting early has it's benefits!

Freight train passing by

We ended the day's loop back at the old road.  As hubby and I followed the road back to our car, a freight train thundered down the adjacent tracks, providing me another subject.  Although cloudy skies gave a blah background, it was still a cool photo op.

Time for lunch!  After refueling at a nearby brewpub, I turned the car towards home.  As we left the parking lot, drops began to fall from the sky and quickly escalated into a full-blown rainstorm.  Another benefit to starting early - we avoided a soaking on the trail.  (Judging by the sheer number of people we saw heading up the trail, I'm sure lots of hikers did not!)

A lovely (dry) spring morning in the Gorge with my hubby.  Five miles, 1500 feet elevation gain, and hike number 10 of my 52 hike challenge!


  1. ...a gorgeous place to enjoy, where are we off to next?

  2. Nice timing, avoiding the downpour! So much water in the stream, I think when I hiked there, there was very little water. Beautiful!

  3. Awesome post. I remember being on such trails and how pleasant it was.

  4. I love seeing all the places you go to hike as nowadays I could no longer do that. Thanks

  5. Beautiful views and scenery which remind me very much of Wales.

  6. Hello,
    Gorgeous views! What an awesome hike. The flowers are beautiful. Enjoy your day, have a happy weekend!

  7. Beautiful photos. I sure like that desert parsley. Thanks for sharing this lovely walk. :-)

  8. Another amazing hike. So many fabulous views, looking very lush.

  9. Just a wonderful morning's hiking. Well done you to beat the crowds and weather. Hiking with my hubby has the same result as you have hiking with yours. I love the train.

  10. Amazing area. So green and beautiful!

  11. It is always wise to start early, not only to avoid the crowds, but to enjoy the best of the day, and if warm temperature is predicted to hike in the cool of the morning. You chose a fine, yet rugged, spot to do your walking. I suspect you might have been glad the salmon didn't run, but what that says about the environment is another matter entirely.

  12. A lovely morning hike and how nice to have the company of your husband.

  13. Such beautiful views! I enjoyed the photo of the old bare tree very much! Good to see flowers! :)

  14. Um trilho fantástico que proporcionou excelentes fotografias.
    Um abraço e boa semana.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa
    O prazer dos livros

  15. Getting an early start has lots of benefits... including being done in time for lunch at a brewpub! Looks like a beautiful hike; one of these days my hubby and I need to come back to the Gorge for some hiking. The views are spectacular!


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