Trek #8: Fort Cascades Historic Trail, WA

Despite the fact that it was now pouring rain, immediately after hiking Strawberry Island we decided to drive the 1.5ish miles to continue our historical journey to the Fort Cascades Historic trail. Maybe it was the rain. Maybe it was the fact that this trail was supposed to be a self-guided journey into the past when we had no clue what we were supposed to be looking at. Maybe it was because there was something sort of inauthentic about this trail. But overall, this trail was super lame.


What initially drew me to wanting to hike this was the fact that Lewis & Clark once traversed this same trail, plus my trailbook had a picture of a gravestone circa the 1800’s, which is always pretty cool. However, almost as soon as we arrived and saw the almost theme-park-esque kiosk at the trailhead, I knew this wouldn’t be nearly as awesome a trip back in time as I’d hoped.

First of all, my trailbook made mention that at the trailhead kiosk, you could pick up a brochure that would guide you along the trail, giving you historical information at each marker (of which there would be 17 markers total). There were, however, no such brochures. But off we went, at the very least to enjoy an interesting trail into history. What we encountered, overall, were a bunch of markers with dates. Just dates. Or a date and a name, or a date and a place. To the non-brochure-educated eye, what you were looking at by each marker were some trees. Or in the case of the above photo, a fabricated piece of what once was. Mildly confusing, super thrilling. And the trail itself, while very well maintained and gravelly, wasn’t anything to shake a stick at. Walking through it felt like you were more walking down a path someone laid down with gravel a couple of years ago rather than an authentic trail once traversed by the bold and curious Lewis and Clark. And that grave site I was super excited to see? Didn’t even come across it. Turns out, after looking at the trailhead map again, we had to go further past a point we turned the wrong way on. If the weather wasn’t so ick I probably would have had the gusto to reverse back the mile or so to the grave site, but that would have meant going back to look at all the confusing marker things we just saw in the pouring rain and decided to nix the idea and call it good.

This loop overall is 1.5 miles, and we spent 38 minutes on it. I would suggest hiking this if you a) have access to one of those illusive brochures to help give the hike context, and b) are stuck on the WA side of the gorge and have less than an hour to kill.

As I’m sitting here in a coffee shop typing this blog post, I do not have my trail book with me, which I used for directions to get to this trail. Here are some directions along with more historical perspective on this hike. There is no fee and it’s open year-round.

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Treks Down: 8, Treks to Go: 44

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