Crawford Oaks – Columbia Hills State Park

Crawford Oaks is a relatively new trail system in the Columbia Hills State Park. There are a few trails that comprise the Crawford Oaks trail system. There is an access road trail that gets you up to the loop trails. The Access Road goes by a really beautiful waterfall. The Vista Loop is the lower loop of the two loops and has great views of the river and views on the other side into Oregon. The upper loop is called the Ranch route and climbs gently up into the Columbia Hills complex. the Crawford Ranch which is now owned by the Washington State Parks can be accessed from this loop. Both loops are connected on the west by the Eight Mile Creek Trail which also connects with the Access Road Trail. I did both loops as one big loop but if I were to do it again, I would hike it in a figure eight pattern so I could squeeze in the middle section that I missed.

I drove down to the Gorge on this weekend to squeeze in as much sun as I could find. It has been a miserably wet and grey winter in the NW (I say that every year it seems) and I needed all the vitamin D I could get. The forecast was for sun on Saturday and clouds turning to rain later on Sunday. I'm short on dialog for this hike, there's not much to say. I didn't see many people except for 3 or 4 mountain bikers. It was a beautiful afternoon. The flowers were still a couple weeks away so I missed out on that, but I did see some early varieties.  That night I stayed in The Dalles Oregon so I could get another hike in on Sunday.

 Follow this link to the Oregon Hikers Field Guide for a much better description of the hike.

Waterfall on Eight Mile Creek from the trailhead
Access Road Trail
New signs along the Access Road Trail
Looking back down to the road. Columbia River and Oregon on the other side.
Heading up the access road
Oaks at Crawford Oaks
Looking back down at the Access Road
I failed to get a picture of it, but right after this sign there is Eight Mile Creek you have to cross. There is no bridge but it wasn't too difficult to cross. There were some sticks and rocks to help keep from getting your feet wet.
This is the beginning of the lower Vista Loop.
Part of an old rock fence along the trail.
Flower strewn hill side
I can't remember what these are called
Grass Widow
Vista Loop
Vista Loop
Vista Loop
Vista Loop - Crawford Ranch just coming into view
Wildflowers on the Vista Loop
Vista Loop
Scenic Vista Loop
Mountain bikers headed my way on the Vista Loop
The scenic Vista Loop
Not sure when, but obviously a fire rolled through here in the not so distant past.
Ranch Route Junction
Beautiful oak tree
Stream crossing on the Ranch Route
Mt Hood in the distance
Crawford Ranch
Looking down towards the Columbia River from near the ranch
Spring at Crawford Ranch
Pond on the ranch property
Crawford Ranch
Crawford Ranch
Crawford Ranch
Crawford Ranch
Crawford Ranch
Crawford Ranch
Back on the trail
Eight Mile Creek Trail
Eight Mile Creek Trail
This was the only patch of Balsamroot I came across this day. Just a few weeks early to catch the big bloom.
This was the only patch of Balsamroot I came across this day. Just a few weeks early to catch the big bloom.
This was the only patch of Balsamroot I came across this day. Just a few weeks early to catch the big bloom.
Eight Mile Creek Trail
Eight Mile Creek Trail
Eight Mile Creek Trail
More wildflowers
Eight Mile Creek Trail
Interesting weather
The clouds were coming in
Back on the access road heading to the trailhead
Back on the access road heading to the trailhead
The Eight Mile Creek waterfall near the trailhead
The Eight Mile Creek waterfall near the trailhead
The Eight Mile Creek waterfall near the trailhead
Crawford Oaks Trailhead
The view from my room that night in The Dalles, Oregon.

About 7.5 miles and 1200 feet of elevation gain.

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2 thoughts on “Crawford Oaks – Columbia Hills State Park

  • April 18, 2016 at 7:41 pm
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    The first white flowers you don’t have a name for are Lithophragma, or woodland-star. The second white flowers are phlox. The yellow flowers in the shot of the waterfall are one of the many Lomatiums, aka biscuit-root or desert-parsley.

    Looks like you got a lot of sun! and the waterfall is very pretty.

    Reply
    • April 19, 2016 at 9:25 am
      Permalink

      Thanks for the ID. I try to ID these a lot of times, but I’ve got so much catching up to do, it can be time consuming to do all the research. Glad you are still reading these. That waterfall was a big surprise to me. This whole area of the Gorge is amazingly beautiful to me and will always be one of my favorite spring destinations.

      Reply

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