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Balsamroot and beyond: participants on the 2016 Columbia Land Trust native meadows tour in Oregon's East Cascades.

Last year, the Columbia Land Trust launched a themed series of full-service tours—we're talking transportation, lunch, even the occasional beer—through some of the Columbia River Gorge's less traversed wilderness. (Namely, the more than 30,000 acres of land protected by the 27-year-old nonprofit along the lower fifth of the Gorge.)

Soon, happy hikers were out: getting down and dirty in the forests by the Upper Elochoman, scavenging for scat; exploring distant galaxies through a telescope lens; and getting cheek-to-cheek with the microcosmic worlds of the lichen that grows around Oregon’s 100-year-old white oaks. Word got out and the tours quickly filled up with nature lovers looking for, in the words of Communications Coordinator Sarah Richards, “rare opportunities to gaze at landscapes off the beaten path.” 

Now, fans have a second shot at the series: last week the local land steward unrolled its 2017 tour lineup. Below, the lineup so far (Richards hints that more are in the works): 

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At another 2016 Columbia Land Trust tour, stargazers look to the sky in Trout Lake, Washington.

Eagles, Salmon, and Native History

When: Saturday, January 28
Where: Departs from the Columbia Land Trust’s Vancouver office
What: Hike the Balfour-Klickitat trail, where soaring convocations of bald eagles and rushing salmon runs play backdrop to a rich meditation on the region’s influence on Native American culture and history.
Price: $75 per person (includes transportation, snacks, and lunch) 

Beers and Backyards

When: Saturday, March 25
Where: Departs from Hopworks Urban Brewery (Powell location)
What: An HGTV-inspired tour of the backyard landscapes of some of Portland’s most environmentally friendly urban dwellers, kicked off by pints of Hopworks’s best.
Price: $75 per person (includes transportation, snacks, and beer) 

The Places of Pika

When: Sat, May 20
Where: Departs from Columbia Land Trust’s Vancouver office
What: A kid-friendly foray into the Columbia River Gorge habitats of the notoriously adorable pika (rumored to be the inspiration for Pokémon mainstay Pikachu).
Price: $75 per person (includes transportation, snacks, and lunch) 

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A 2016 canoe trip in search of coastal native plants on the Long Beach Peninsula.

Image: Kyla Yeoman

Canoes & Coastal Native Plants

When: Saturday, August 19
Where: Departs from the Columbia Land Trust Vancouver office
What: A canoe trip down Island Lake, the playground of marbled murrelets and regal trumpeter swans, topped off with a jaunt through the woods in search of native plants and fresh-picked snacks.
Price: $80 per person (includes transportation, snacks, and lunch) 

Cranes and Croplands

When: Saturday, December 2
Where: Departs from the Columbia Land Trust’s Vancouver office
What: A rare exploration of the staged cornfield habitats of the endangered sandhill cranes found in the Vancouver Lake Lowlands, where light hiking will fall under a chorus of their operatic bugle calls.
Price: $75 per person (includes transportation, snacks, and lunch) 

Visit the Columbia Land Trust's website for more information on ticketing, tours, and the organization's work.

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