April is wildflower time at Columbia Hills State Park!
During a light spring shower the sun came out to illuminate arrowleaf balsamroot growing beside a rock crib.
Columbia Hills is one of the best places for horseback riders to see the Columbia Gorge’s dramatic spring wildflower displays.
Desert parsley blooms beside a seasonal waterfall along Dalles Mountain Road in early spring.
Millions of arrowleaf balsamroot flowers cover park’s the rolling hills, with purple lupine and the less-dramatic yellow blossoms of desert parsley in between.
Arrowleaf balsamroot and desert parsley flourish along a fenceline at Columbia Hills State Park.
Arrowleaf balsamroot blooms beneath a rock outcropping in early spring.
Depending on the year, the wildflower bloom typically gets started at lower elevations in early April, then works its way progressively higher week by week.
The Trails explore the hills above the Columbia River. This photo was taken in the fall. The wildflowers are long gone, but the views remain.
Columbia Hills has two trailheads, the Crawford Oaks trailhead just off Hwy. 14 and the Upper Trailhead several miles up the gravel Dalles Mountain Road. Both have horse trailer parking.
The Crawford Hills Trailhead is just off Hwy. 14. It has designated parking for 6 trailers.
The Upper Trailhead is 3.7 miles up the gravel Dalles Mountain Road, just past Dalles Mountain Ranch. This trailhead has plenty of parking for horse trailers.
The trails form a sort of figure-8 as they traverse the hills between the two trailheads.
The views from the trails are panoramic. Notice Mt. Hood on the horizon.
The vista looking south into Oregon seems to extend forever.
Getting There: From Bingen, drive east on Hwy. 14 for 22 miles. Just past milepost 87, turn left into the Crawford Oaks Trailhead. If you want to go to the Upper Trailhead instead, turn left on Dalles Mountain Road between mileposts 84 and 85 and follow the gravel road for 3.7 miles. As you approach the ranch buildings, turn left on the second dirt road and follow it 0.1 mile to the Upper Trailhead.
Season: April through November
Trailhead Facilities: The Crawford Oaks Trailhead has a toilet and designated parking for 6 trailers. The Upper Trailhead also has a toilet and parking for several trailers.
Fees: Discover Pass Required
More Information: Columbia Hills State Park is covered in the Day Rides in the Columbia Gorge chapter of Riding Southwest Washington Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, (Ponderosa Press, 2016).