Conserving Cape Horn - Columbia Land Trust
12 acres of forest transferred to the United States Forest Service

This March, Columbia Land Trust proudly concluded our active role in stewarding the area around a beloved trailhead in the Gorge, after conserving the land and caring for it for 22 years. Our actions ensured that this trailhead space was permanently protected and available for what was, at the time, the yet-to-be-developed Cape Horn Trail. Today, this trail is one of the most diverse, beautiful, and popular trails in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.  

After this long legacy of involvement, Columbia Land Trust transferred 12 acres of old forest at the beginning of the Cape Horn Trail in Washougal, Washington to the permanent care of the United States Forest Service this March. If you begin your hike at the Salmon Falls Park & Ride and head counterclockwise on the loop, you are walking on land conserved by Columbia Land Trust as you start the trail. 

The Land Trust had cared for this land since 2001, when we raised the funds to purchase a conservation easement here to ensure connectivity for the future Cape Horn Trail, which at that point was still just a dream of local trail advocates. Over time, and thanks to years of collaboration and work by Cape Horn Conservancy and Friends of the Columbia Gorge, the trail became an eight-mile hiking route offering unparalleled views of the Columbia River and taking visitors through an incredible diversity of topography and flora, from oak woodlands and old conifer forests to spring wildflowers on rocky outcrops.  

It is also one of the more easily accessible trails in the Gorge, only 15 minutes east of Washougal, Washington. 

“This parcel is a keystone piece of what is now an inimitable trail in the Gorge and my personal favorite,” said Land Trust Forest Conservation Director Cherie Kearney. “Columbia Land Trust played a key role in creating this trail from the very beginning. We conserved multiple critical trail links and are pleased to see the land now move into the ownership and stewardship of the United States Forest Service.” 

“The Cape Horn Trail allows hikers to experience many unique attributes of the Gorge within an eight-mile loop hike,” continued Kearney. “It is home to nesting habitat for peregrine falcons, rare flowers, hanging waterfalls, dry talus slopes, and deep green forest. It took many years of passion and dedication to bring all the pieces of this trail together, and it is a privilege to have been a part of it.” 

Connecting people with nature is at the heart of Columbia Land Trust’s conservation vision. This means helping to ensure that trails and natural spaces are within reach of all communities. We believe that experiences like witnessing the beauty of an old forest, learning to identify a bird species, or spotting an early bloom of a native wildflower positively influence how we care for the world around us.

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Trail Description: 

If You Go: Be aware that the lower segment of the trail is closed annually from February 1st through July 15th for peregrine falcon nesting, meaning you can do an out-and-back hike on the upper section of trail but cannot complete the loop.