Another great open-skies hike in the eastern Gorge, perfect for a sunny day of hiking in early spring! The weather was more than kind to us, with sunny skies and temps around 70F — excellent for catching some rays and viewing the wildflowers, with a little bit of elevation gain.
Located 75 miles (1.5 hours) east of Portland between Hood River and The Dalles on the Oregon side of the gorge. 3.40 miles, round trip, from the parking lot to the point and back, with an optional 2.0 mile easy add-on hike around the Rowena Plateau (which also leaves from the parking lot). 1,200 feet of elevation gain. Views of Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood on a clear day (each about 35 miles away).
Above: View from the parking lot up to the top of the point (highest point in the photo at top-left). Below:View looking back at the parking lot and eastward at the Columbia River.
Traffic on the trail was light, considering the weather and it being a Saturday. We actually picked this hike due to its distance from Portland, as we thought that the beautiful Saturday weather might impact trail traffic on the hikes closer to the city.
Wildflowers were out in full force. Glad I took my allergy meds when we left home. Only a crazy person would attempt this hike this time of year without precautions, unless you are my wife who somehow has superhuman powers against evil seasonal allergens.
As we climbed higher and higher, Mt. Adams (across the river in Washington) gradually revealed itself. It’s the one area peak that we can’t see from our apartment (completely blocked by the 20-story building next-door), so we were particularly happy to be able to get to spend some quality time with Adams.
Pregnancy hasn’t slowed down Lori one bit. Well, that’s not entirely true…we do break more for Mother Nature. Well, that’s not entirely true either…we break about the same as before, but now at Lori’s request instead of mine.
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Almost to the top!
About halfway up the trail, Mt. Hood comes into view to the southwest.
The previous weekend, we hiked Coyote Wall and the Labyrinth, which lies just around the bend in the river (photo below). Yet, the two hikes are very different.
With the exception of the trailhead and summit, McCall Point trail has quite a bit more tree coverage (though the trees are scraggily, wind blown looking things), and lots of scrub. The trail is largely made up of gentle switchbacks.
Coyote Wall, on the other hand, is wide-open and pretty much straight up. There are also a number of mountain bikes and dogs that share the trail. Dogs are not allowed, however, on McCall Point trail, with nary a biker in sight.
McCall Point trail has one other thing we didn’t see on the Coyote Wall: Snakes.
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On our way up, Lori pulled off the trail momentarily to let some hikers pass and was startled by a sudden DA-DA-DA-DA-DA-DA sound. She slowly took a few steps back over to me and calmly says: snake.
I take a look over to where the sound came from and don’t see a “snake.” I see a HUGE FIVE-FOOT DIAMONDBACK RATTLESNAKE!!! And no, the photo above is NOT this snake, sadly, but yet ANOTHER snake (a harmless bull snake) that we encountered laying across the trail on our way back.
Yes, Diamondbacks are venomous, and yes, they can be deadly. But they rarely strike unprovoked, and nearly always use their rattle as a first. Still, quite unnerving to know we got that close to Mr. Rattler’s “safe space,” but very cool to catch a glimpse of in the wild (from a safe distance).
After our 3.5 mile and 1,200-foot climb — and encounter with not one, but two sizable snakes — we decided to tack on the additional 2 mile Rowena Plateau loop, and are very glad we did.
The Rowena Plateau trail is much more leisurely of a jaunt, with very little elevation change, but incredible views, nonetheless!
Oh, and it’s got some dizzying views of I-84, 500 feet below.
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