38. Mosier Plateau
Distance: 2 miles out and back
Elevation Gain: 450 feet
Trailhead elevation: 122 feet
Trail high point: 574 feet
Other seasons: all year (avoid summer heat)
Map: none available
Drivetime from Portland: 65 minutes
Directions to Mosier Plateau TH:
Why April: A brand-new trail constructed by Friends of the Gorge and the Nature Conservancy, the Mosier Plateau Trail is a delight that passes many scenic highlights in one excellent mile. You will pass an historic cemetery, a beautiful and unexpected waterfall, and arrive at a view-packed knoll above Mosier. This is a great place to take casual hikers and visitors from out of state in April, as the trail hits on almost everything that makes the Gorge such a wonderful place.
Hike: Begin at the old cemetery trail on the east side of Mosier Creek. Climb uphill, passing a house before arriving at the Mosier Cemetery after a tenth of a mile. Some of the graves are quite old; among them is Benjamin Mosier, the town founder. The trail continues as it straddles a bluff above Mosier Creek’s narrow gorge. At 0.3 mile, arrive at a bench above lovely Mosier Falls. It is odd to see a waterfall here, in a dry canyon on the edge of a town with houses on the opposite side of the creek – but it is very welcome! From the falls, the trail continues along the canyon wall for another 0.2 mile until it begins a series of switchbacks out of the canyon. The flowers on this hillside peak in April, with the usual suspects balsamroot and lupine leading the charge. At 1 mile from the trailhead, arrive at a viewpoint atop a knoll, where the view opens up downriver through the Gorge to Hood River and down to Dog Mountain. What a fantastic view it is! Return the way you came.
If you’re looking for a longer day, you can combine this hike with the trail out to Rowena Crest (Hike 46), just 7 miles to the east. The only downside is that the Rowena Crest Hike is extraordinarily popular (especially in April) and if you’re starting at Mosier Plateau, you’ll likely have trouble finding a place to park by the time you get to Rowena Crest. Consider combining this hike with any other number of shorter Gorge hikes, such as tje Starvation Falls Loop (Hike 36), Mitchell Point (Hike 36), Lyle Cherry Orchard (Hike 29), The Dalles Mountain Ranch (Hike 40) or other, more obscure hikes not included in this book, such as Weldon Wagon Road and Rattlesnake Falls. There is, after all, no finer place to be than the Gorge in April. Where you go is limited by your athletic abilities and the time you’re willing to spend exploring the area.