Grab some breakfast, coffee or snack to take with you on the hike using your Washougal Discover Guide before heading out east of Washougal on Highway 14. The Cape Horn Trailhead is located at the Skamania County Transit Park & Ride lot near milepost 26.
This loop hike is a total length of 8.3 miles with a gain in elevation of 1,500 feet and is rated strenuous. The full loop can be hiked from July 16 - January 31. The lower portion of the Cape Horn trail is closed annually from February 1-July 15 to protect sensitive Peregrine Falcon habitat. From February through July you can hike the upper section of the trail http://trails.gorgefriends.org/trail/cape-horn-upper/ It is worth it for the beautiful views, bird viewing, waterfalls and seasonal wildflowers. There are restroom facilities at the trailhead and no fees to pay for access to the trail. For a map and history of the trail go to http://www.capehorntrail.org/index.html
As you climb, stay to the left on side trails to enjoy amazing views of the foothills and river that get more impressive the higher you go! Pioneer Point viewpoint is about 1-1/4 miles into the hike and is a turn-around point for some. From there, the trail levels out and heads away from the river. You’ll want to keep bearing left and follow an old wagon road that becomes paved after 3/4 mile. Cross the road and follow a footpath to the left, and then head right at a gravel driveway heading back toward the river. You will pass a meadow and then leave the road to a trail to the left. Follow it to the Nancy Russell Overlook to enjoy an incredible view. Here is a great best place to enjoy that snack.
After leaving the viewpoint you will join the trail downhill along switchbacks. In spring this area is full of wildflowers. Follow the trail for 1.25 miles to SR 14. If you are still up for more hiking, cross under the highway using the pedestrian underpass and follow the trail across a creek straight through a four-way intersection. You will be rewarded with more views of Columbia River and a waterfall. Head to the Cape Horn Landing Road through a second underpass to the trailhead.
Once back to your car take a different, very scenic 14-mile drive back to Washougal. Just head up Salmon Falls Road, right from the parking lot, and then left of Canyon Creek Road. Follow it as it winds along Canyon Creek. You’ll come to a T in the road at Washougal River Road and will take a left. Enjoy the drive into town and the stunning views of the Washougal River. Watch for mile post 3 and stop at the pullout to see a gentle waterfall below.
Consult your Discover Guide for a place to eat some lunch in town. You might to get it to go and have a picnic at one of our three riverside parks.
Washougal Waterfront Park and Trail 56 S 1st St, Washougal offers a lovely stroll down a tree-covered path. Check out historic information panels and a natural playground for kids of all ages. The playground features a giant Sasquatch named Eegah along with a hill-side slide, log steppers, xylophone, drums, a boulder maze, log balancing beams and don’t forget a fun climbing rope connecting Eegah to Erric the Erratic.
Marina Park, 24 South A Street Washougal, is a great place to sit and watch the boat activity in the marina. The park boosts a spectacular view of Mt. Hood and breathtaking sunsets each evening. There are picnic tables, shade trees, handicap-accessible public restrooms, BBQ pits, groomed grassy areas, and a deck overlooking the Marina. (There is also an RV disposal station nearby.)
Parker's Landing Historical Park is located adjacent to Marina Park, and commemorates David C. Parker, on whose Donation Land Claim this site is located. The Park includes a walking path that connects commemorative features such as the Van Vleet Historical Plaza and Chinook Plaza. Read information presented there about some of the rich history of this area and the first settlement here called Parkersville.
Any trip to Washougal should begin with a look at the Washougal Discover Guide. It provides a map to featured attractions, great food, beverages and coffee shops. You can find them at the Best Western Inn, City of Washougal, Two Rivers Heritage Museum or download a copy at visitwashougal.com/discoverguide.