Hike Distance: 8.8 miles Yearly Hike Distance: 1392.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 300 feet Yearly Elevation Gain: 183622 feet
Such a gorgeous day and I decided to hike the Cottonwood Beach and Steigerwald NWR loop trail. There is a trail at Steigerwald NWR that closes on October 1st as the birds winter in this area, and it turns into a do-not-disturb area. My second reason for coming here is that there are very big plans for the Steigerwald NWR, and it will change the look and feel of this area forever!
The plans that I’ve seen for Steigerwald NWR is basically to remove most of the dike and turn this area back into a Columbia River flood plain. There will be a new trail where the levee is removed. In addition, the land just east of the closed fence will be added to the refuge (currently owned by Friends of the Columbia River Gorge?). An additional one mile of trail will be added to this section. 🙂
See this URL for more info: https://www.refuge2020.info/steigerwald-floodplain-restoration
So the Columbia River was very low and I spent the first three miles of my hike along the beach. I spent considerable time walking as far west as possible on Cottonwood Beach, which was to a swiftly running stream. I also explored the sand areas at the east end of the beach. Large clouds made for fantastic photos!
After visiting Cottonwood Beach I walked the full length of the levee to the closed fence. I met and talked with a nice gentleman for some time, and was also being swarmed by yellowjackets, but not stung. I seem to be a biting insect magnet. haha
I headed back west on the levee and turned right to head out on the Gibbon’s Creek Art seasonal trail. Almost nobody was on this trail and the solitude was wonderful! Heading back around toward the levee gives a great view of a lake with the gorge in the background. I didn’t see Mt. Hood and just kept moving since it was getting late.
I spent quite a bit of time taking movies of Steigerwald, since it will be changing forever. They are already working on the Hwy 14 adjacent area, and it is now closed (until October 15), along with part of the Gibbon’s Creek Art Trail!
Such an enjoyable trail and I highly recommend getting there to see it before the changes! That way, you can compare how see what changed when the projects are finished, sometime in 2022 (I believe?)!