Trail of the Month

Aldrich Butte Trail

By Brian Barker October 16, 2012

Why it’s great: Columbia Gorge weather be damned! Aldrich Butte serves up eye-popping vistas, no matter the forecast. Perched above the town of North Bonneville on the Washington side of the Gorge, Aldrich’s 1,141-foot summit sits beneath the clouds but above the fog for a panorama that ropes in the sprawling Bonneville Lock and Dam complex and a wide swath of Oregon-owned goodies, from Eagle Creek and Wauna Viewpoint clear upstream to Hood River. An unsigned trailhead (along with an unflattering start beneath a row of power lines) keeps foot traffic scarce. But press on. After a quick climb and a turn to the left, a faint path leads to a quiet, leafy forest. Follow it a short distance and turn right on a lumpy, seldom-used road. Take in peekaboo views of Table Mountain’s rocky flanks looming above a tranquil meadow, then veer left, up the curving road, to reach the large overlook, where the curious remains of two stone foundations, including a small set of stairs, hint at the site’s past life as a dam construction lookout and survey station. 

Don’t forget: An indistinct footpath near the summit offers a loop option. But it’s less confusing to retrace your steps down the road.

Post-hike watering hole: Bonneville Hot Springs Resort & Spa Local offerings from Everybody’s Brewing and Walking Man highlight a short tap list along with a good selection of bar eats. 1252 E Cascade Dr, North Bonneville, WA; 509-427-7767; 

Trailhead directions: From Cascade Locks, cross the Bridge of the Gods ($1 toll required), and turn left on WA 14. Go 3 miles and turn right on Hot Springs Way. Turn right and continue about a mile, and look for a gravel turnout on the left. The trail begins behind the chain-link gate. No fees or permits required. 

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