To Reach (From
Take I-84 eastbound
to Cascade Locks and cross the Bridge of the Gods. The toll is $1.00
per vehicle each way. Turn left on Highway 14 for 2 miles to the
Bonneville trailhead on the right. You can park here, and walk a
short ways up to a gated gravel road to a sign marked "PCT".
Trailhead is well-known as the gateway to Table Mountain, a popular training
hike for mountaineers. There are shorter and much easier alternatives
to the 15.1-mile, 3500-foot elevation gain Table Mountain, such as the
5-mile round trip to Gilette Lake.
The trail takes
off through a stretch of Douglas Fir and vine maple, rising only slightly,
making for a nice, calm beginning. After 0.6 miles, you'll hit the
Pacific Crest Trail, where you want to take a left. At around 1.7
miles, you'll emerge from the forest and enter a clear-cut.
clear-cut, trying to follow the faint trail in this area, until you hit
a gravel road. Cross the road, and descend to Gillette Lake, a questionable
green color. With all the clearcut around, one questions what might
cause the brilliant green tint... The lake is peaceful, and stocked
with fish and ducks.
You can continue
from here another 1.3 miles across a creek and up to Greenleaf Overlook,
or another 5 miles or so to massive Table Mountain. We opted to
turn back here, and make a short day out of it.
We set out from
the Bonneville Trailhead, enjoying the quick pace the flat trail provided
us. We entered the clearcut, finding it to be quite ugly, and headed
over to the lake. The lake was full of fish, and several ducks,
and we headed down to the shore to relax for a bit.
over a creek, thinking that we might head up to Greenleaf Overlook, but
then the rain started. Light at first, the rain soon became a torrential
downpour. Thunder rolled and lightning flashed all around us as
we ran down the trail, trying to get across the clearcut to cover.
The lightning was hitting the ground so close we could almost feel it,
as we bolted across the exposed hillside.
We were completely
drenched in moments, but we didn't care, as we were only thinking of how
not to get struck by lightning! There was no delay after a bolt
of lightning before the thunder, as it was on top of us. Eventually,
after sprinting a mile and a half in the downpour, we made it into the
forest. The lightning began to subside, but the downpour continued.
we reached the trailhead at last, perhaps setting an all-time record for
speed down the trail. Almost immediately as we reached the car,
the clouds parted, and the warm sun shone down on us, revealing blue skies
overhead. That figured, we thought...
This trail was
pretty unimpressive, considering the wealth of fabulous trails in the
Columbia River Gorge. We may try it again to head up to Table Mountain,
but we wouldn't hike this stretch again anytime soon. Most of the
trail was clearcut, with limited views. Not what you want to hike
with all the options available...
SEE SLIDE SHOW NOW!!