TOTAL MILES: 7.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 2800 ft.
PACE: “Quick” (~2.5 mph)
DIFFICULTY RATING: DIFFCULT
ESTIMATED HIKING TIME: 3 hours
PERMITS: NW Forest Pass
CARPOOLING: RT mileage is 80 miles, give or take; we suggest a mileage donation of 10 cents/mile/person, or $8.00. Exact change makes it easier to divide among our drivers. No one will be turned away for an inability to contribute. Thanks!
It's has been many many years since I’ve done this hike so I’m calling this a semi-exploratory hike.
Below is a description of the hike from “The Friends of the Columbia Gorge”:
This trail offers some of the most underappreciated views in the Columbia Gorge. Start out from the trailhead on the Herman Creek Trail (#406). At mile 0.3 there is a junction with the Herman Bridge Trail. At about mile 0.5 on the Herman Creek Trail, it starts to level out a bit and from here the freeway noise is much reduced. There's an old logging road that intersects the trail and an unmaintained trail that goes down, but it's easy to stay on the main trail.
At mile 1.2 the trail reaches Herman Camp and the junction with the Gorge Trail #400 (which goes hard left - north) and the Gorton Creek Trail #408 (which goes left - east), while the Herman Creek Trail continues straight (southeast) on an old logging road. This hike continues on the Gorton Creek Trail and comes back on the Herman Creek Trail. Take the Gorton Creek Trail, which gradually gains elevation, crosses a few small seasonal streams, and has a few switchbacks. The junction with the Ridge Cutoff Trail (#437)is at about mile 3.8. The trail is about 1/4 mile. There is a flat open area where you could take a break. You get great views of Indian Point and the Gorge. When you're done go back to the Ridge Cutoff junction.
From the junction, follow the Ridge Cutoff Trail 0.8 mile to the Nick Eaton Trail, which is at mile 4.6 on the loop. From the Nick Eaton-Ridge Cutoff Trail junction, follow the Nick Eaton Trail right (down) about 1/2 mile to a nice viewpoint. You can see west down the Columbia Gorge and south to some ridges. Continue down the Nick Eaton Trail to the junction with the Herman Creek Trail at mile 6.2 on the loop. Continue 0.2 miles down the Herman Creek Trail to the Herman Camp, and 1.2 miles back to the trailhead for 7.6 miles total.
Please note that there is a MANUAL waiting list for this hike. What this means is that if a spot opens up everyone on the waiting list will automatically receive an e-mail notifying them of the opening. The first person (whether on the waiting list or not) to RSVP gets the spot.
What to bring:
• Sturdy hiking boots/shoes with at least one change of socks
• Two or three light layers of clothing that can be adjusted or removed as necessary (NO COTTON !!! including JEANS)
• Rain gear
• Safety whistle, preferably on a cord around your neck (highly recommended)
• The 10 essentials*
• Trekking poles (never a bad idea)
• Lunch, snacks and plenty of water
*Navigation, Sun protection, Insulation, Illumination, First Aid, Fire, Repair Kit/Tools, Nutrition, Hydration, Emergency Shelter. For a more detailed description, check out “The Ten Essentials” on the Portland Hiking Meetup Group’s FILES page.