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Columbia River Gorge: Angel’s Rest to Larch Mt

Spring is in full swing, and that means at least two things:

Trails across the Pacific Northwest are drying and calling out to runners weary of winter mud and wet pavement.

Volcanoes are basking under a hot sun and shine like voluminous diamonds in the eyes of climbers and skiers alike.

Running and skiing typically occupy distinct seasons, but springtime in the Northwest harbors ideal conditions for both. I took advantage of this duality last weekend with some friends of mine. The plan was to climb and ski Mt. Adams on Sunday. The only complication was that Ethan and Richard were racing the Yakima 50k on Saturday, which boasts 10,000′ of climbing. Thus, they demanded I run at least 20 miles and 4000′ on Saturday to even the exhaustion score. Despite a relative lack of fitness for long distances and vert, I consented and drove to the Columbia River Gorge for a long run amidst its new verdure.


INFO

Parking/TH: Angel’s Rest Trailhead. Oregon Gorge exit 28. No restrooms at TH. Very busy on sunny weekend days. Go during the week or early in the morning to beat the crowds.

Map: Angel’s Rest to Larch Mt USGS (trail in red). Incomplete Strava track here.

Stats: 22+ miles, 6500′ vertical. Bring water and food. Water refills available from streams/springs after Devil’s Rest (drink at your own risk).


The journey begins with a long and moderately steep climb to Angel’s Rest. The trail was incredibly crowded up to this point, and I did my best to politely weave past hikers. As a runner it’s easy to get annoyed by crowds, but it’s important to remember that the trail belongs to everyone. Plus, it was great to see so many people being active and connecting with nature. If the human race is to make any progress in preserving the integrity of the natural systems upon which we ultimately depend, I believe this is the first step.

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Pahto (Mt. Adams) shines bright on the horizon. The next day I would be standing atop her flat head.

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CRG Running and First Ultra: Photo TR

These past few weeks have been crazy.  Nevertheless, I’ve been trying to stick to sneaking in a few longs runs each week to prepare for the 50k that I signed up for months ago and which now looms in the near future.  The Columbia River Gorge is a trail-runner’s paradise, hiding deep gorges full of waterfalls which within a few miles provide access to miles of trail through Mt Hood National Forest. Early in the last week I took a solo trip up Larch Mountain, a local classic, to see where the snow line was hiding, and then just yesterday, I made it out with Ethan for a run up Eagle Creek to Wahtum Lake, a run which marks my first Ultra-distance outing.

Multnomah – Larch Mountain – Oneonta Gorge

Stats

Parking: Multnomah Falls Parking Area, Oregon Gorge exit 28, no fee required, busy on weekends and sunny weekdays.

TH: Bathrooms, food, and water available

Stats: 17 miles, ~4200′ vertical gained.  A whopper of a hill right up front with a long and gradual down to follow.

Time: 3:49, with a fair bit of time lost up running around in the snow.

Larch Mountain inset, click for full map (big file).

Larch Mountain inset, click for full map (big file).

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