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columbia river gorge hiking

- Angels Rest

- Beacon Rock

- Dog Mountain

- Dry Creek Falls

- Eagle Creek

- Gillette Lake

- Hamilton Mountain
- Latourell Falls

- Mt. Defiance

- Multnomah Falls

- North Lake / Wyeth

- Oneonta Gorge

- Wahclella Falls

- Wahkeena Falls

other local hikes

- Mirror Lake
- Ramona Falls

- Three Corner Rock

backpacking trips

- Goat Rocks

- Indian Heaven

- Hoh Rain Forest

car camping

- Olallie Lake

- Trillium Lake


caving trips


- Ape Cave

- Deadhorse Cave

- Ole's Cave

- Thurston Lava Tube


mountain climbs


- Middle Sister

- Mt. Adams

- Mt. Hood

- Mt. St. Helens (Monitor Ridge)

- Mt. St. Helens
(Worm Flows)

- South Sister


columbia gorge

Columbia River

Cultural History

Geologic History


Cultural History of the Columbia River Gorge

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For over 31,000 years, the Columbia River Gorge has supported flourishing civilizations. Evidence of the Folsom and Marmes people, who crossed the Great Continental Divide from Asia, were found in archaeological digs. Excavations at Five Mile Rapids, a few miles east of The Dalles, show humans have occupied this ideal salmon fishing site for more than 10,000 years.

Ancestors of today's Yakama, Warm Springs, Umatilla and Nez Perce tribal nations lived and fished along the river's banks. Tribes from all over western North America would come to this area to trade for dried, smoked salmon.

The U.S. government and the local tribes signed a treaty in 1855. The tribes had fishing rights for thousands of years before the Caucasian invasion. In the treaty, they reserved these rights while losing their lands from conquest and trickery. It is still possible to see American Indians fishing from platforms with dip nets in the tradition of long ago. In addition, it is still possible to see ancient petroglyphs and pictographs on stone walls

In the early 1800s, the magnificent resources of the Gorge lured explorers and fur traders westward. Lewis, Clark, botanist David Douglas and ornithologist John Townsend, "the bird chief," explored and documented geology, geography, plants and animals. When they were in the western region of the Gorge, the recorded they had difficulty sleeping at night because the many birds in the area were so loud. From their reports and illustrations of their travel, people's curiosity of moving westward developed.

In 1843, about 900 people braved the 2,000 mile Oregon Trail to reach the Willamette Valley. By 1849, approximately 11,500 pioneers poured into Oregon, forever changing life in the Columbia Gorge.

As steamboats, railroads and highways replaced canoes and rafts, the Columbia Gorge remains a major transportation route through the Cascade Mountain Range. Improved infrastructure has led to economic development. Lumber, wool and flour mills, as well as fish and fruit canneries have dotted the landscape. The river continues to carry grain, livestock, lumber, fruit and vegetables grown and processed in the Columbia Basin. Remnants of fish wheels, arrowheads and pictographs are visible to history buffs, as well as Oregon's first steam locomotives and cultural influences of Chinese cannery workers.


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