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Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail - Mosier Twin Tunnels

Southwest Washington

Location

Southwest Washington -- Columbia River Gorge - OR
View map below

Length

9.4 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 730 ft.
Highest Point: 540 ft.

Rating

3.00 out of 5

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Oregon State Parks Day-Use
 
 

After it was deemed impractical for cars, the old Columbia River Highway was closed to traffic, and opened to hikers and bikers! The winding route of this historic highway hearkens back to a time when roads were designed for Sunday drives, and the twists and turns of the highway make for a diverting hike or bike along the scenic Columbia River Gorge. 

Begin from the Mark O. Hatfield Trailhead (not to be confused with the Mark O. Hatfield West trailhead). The elevation gain and loss are gentler going this way, and you're closer to the fabled tunnels, which make a good destination for kids. 

Use the privy or buy a pass for your car (if necessary) and walk back out to the road. Cross Rock Creek Road and walk downhill for a few hundred feet, then turn left into a disabled parking area and go around a gate. You're on the trail! 

Set high above Interstate 84, the old highway offers superior views in every direction, and it's hugged on both sides by greenery and flowers. As you hike (or bike) towards the west end, the landscape transitions from arid, desert surroundings to plants that like wetter climes. On your way to the tunnels, look for bigleaf maples and ponderosa pines. Towards the west side, evergreens emerge, and poppies add a little color to the understory. 

A mile from the trailhead, the tunnels come into view. A marvel of engineering, the Twin Tunnels allowed cars to pass through from 1921 to 1950, when they were closed while the highway was retrofitted for foot and bike traffic. They were rehabbed once again in the late 1990s. More information about this process is available at the visitor center at the west end of this trail. 

Be sure to go through both tunnels so you can hit the viewpoint. A short, rugged side trail leads off to your right to a nice overlook of the Gorge. It's nothing you haven't already seen on the hike, but it makes a nice turnaround goal for families. 

If you'd like to continue, It's another 3.7 miles to the other trailhead. A general descent, you'll pass even more views, as well as a seasonal waterfall, stone railings and mileposts from the highway's former life, and head into a green, shaded tunnel; a merciful reprieve from the sun on a hot day. 

Across the river, look for the town of Bingen and the rolling hills of Catherine Creek and Coyote Wall (as you head east to west). Towards the east trailhead, you'll also glimpse the hills of Columbia Hills State Park. 

 

Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail - Mosier Twin Tunnels

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 45.7034, -121.4873 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Southwest Washington -- Columbia River Gorge - OR

Oregon State Parks

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking Columbia River Gorge (Romano - Mountaineers Books)

Buy the Green Trails Columbia Gorge East No. 432S map

Getting There

Drive east on I-84 east to the little town of Mosier (found at exit 69). Take the exit, and turn right. Almost immediately, a "Y" intersection comes into sight, with a big tree in the center. Bear left, and follow that road around and under a bridge. This is Rock Creek Road, which you will follow for 0.8 miles uphill to the Mark O. Hatfield Trailhead on your left.

A privy and pass purchasing kiosk are available here.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Oregon State Parks Day-Use
 

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Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail - Mosier Twin Tunnels

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