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Image: Windie Chao

WHY IT’S GREAT Tracing the path of the Klickitat, a nationally designated Wild & Scenic River that feeds the Columbia from the Washington side, this wide gravel path once rumbled with Burlington Northern railcars. Today, nearly a decade after its conversion by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, the 31-mile path links the towns of Lyle and Warwick, and is a haven for sun-starved hikers and bikers. Tucked in the rain shadow of the Cascades, the trail bakes under 300 days of sunshine per year. Along with a sure shot of vitamin D, expect what locals call “a little bit of Alaska.” Each winter, hundreds of screeching bald eagles plunge down from the Great White North to roost above the river in the bare branches of Oregon white oaks. You needn’t wander far to see them, either. Most sightings occur within a few miles of the trailhead, close to where the mouth of Klickitat ripples with coho and chinook salmon and steelhead trout.

DON’T FORGET Mountain bikers, take note: tire-knifing goathead spurs are abundant here, so pack an extra tube or two.

POST-HIKE WATERING HOLE Everybody’s Brewing. The pork-and-pepper nachos and sweet-potato burritos are a cut above standard pub fare. Team them with the smooth, coffee-dark Cash Stout or the floral Seasonal IPA, and enjoy the Mount Hood views off the back deck.

TRAILHEAD DIRECTIONS From Hood River, take the Hood River Bridge across the Columbia to Washington’s Highway 14. Head east for approximately 11 miles. Look for the trailhead on your left. No fees or permits required.

Find trails, news, tips, gear, and more at the Muddy Boot.

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