Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Near Hood River, Oregon
Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness: Columbia Gorge does not offer reservations through Recreation.gov. Please take a look at the area details below for more information about visiting this location. Enjoy your visit!
Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness covers 65,822 acres of basalt cliffs, waterfalls, and lush coniferous forests between Mt. Hood’s northern slope and the sheer cliffs south of the Columbia River. Not far from the only sea-level route through the Cascades, its northern boundary within the National Scenic Area is near a busy transportation corridor, while its southwest boundary is much more remote terrain in Mt. Hood National Forest. Travelers seeking solitude may pass through heavily visited areas within the Columbia River Gorge before the crowds thin, making it critical to practice leave no trace principles and observe the wilderness ethic and regulations.
First designated in 1984, Hatfield Wilderness was expanded in 2009 to include the Gorge Face (from Oneonta Creek west to Viento Creek) and Larch Mountain (Oneonta Creek canyon, Bell Creek, and Multnomah Creek). The main waterways through the area flow north toward the Columbia, through old growth western hemlock and Douglas fir. The wilderness trails that start in the National Scenic Area climb steep drainages to Benson Plateau before continuing on to mountain peaks (4,900-foot Mount Defiance), talus slopes, and high elevation lakes. Those uncomfortable with heights should be aware that these hikes pass steep cliffs and drop-offs. The rewards for trekkers include spectacular views, sparkling waterfalls, and serene old growth forests with mossy-green cliff faces.
Bull Run Watershed, located at the southwest boundary of the wilderness, provides drinking water to the Portland metropolitan area. It is closed to public entry except for the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail which travels along the watershed’s eastern edge.