Cottonwood Beach & Columbia River Dike & Steigerwald NWR Hike

Hike Distance: 7.2 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 562.6 miles

Elevation Gain: 195 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 72709 feet

With a forecast of high winds and some heavy rain we decided to hike where we wouldn’t be near too many trees, that could blow down or generate debris.  The Columbia River Dike and Steigerwald Wildlife Refuge have minimum trees on the trail system and is therefore more safe when winds are high. 🙂

The weather wasn’t quite as extreme as expected, which is surprising given that we were in the Columbia River Gorge area.  We did have a few bouts of rain move in, and with it heavy winds, but for the most part the winds were tame and the rain minimal.  We even saw the sun peek out a few times!

We started out by heading down toward Cottonwood Beach but quickly noticed the Columbia River water level was very high, with only a small amount of beach exposed.  The picture taking opportunities were extensive here.  We walked along the trail near the beach and took pictures when I saw a good composition.

Next we walked the length of the Columbia River Dike.  There was a short squall that passed by and the rain was almost horizontal, with wind gust that tossed us around a bit.  Thankfully, the storm was short lived and we enjoyed the views of the Columbia River Gorge!  We got to the end of the trail and sat down at a concrete bench and enjoyed being pelted by another bout of rain and wind, and it was magical.

Heading back toward our car, we took a side trail into the Steigerwald NWR and enjoyed the views of the lake.  We took many pictures from a couple bridges along the trail.  We also saw a number of birds and stopped to watch them eat and hunt.  After enjoying this beautiful place we headed back to our car.

It’s interesting that our drive back home revealed much stronger winds north of the Columbia River Gorge!  A great day in the stormy and blustery weather!