Chinook Trail Thru Hike – It’s Happening This October!

After months of planning it’s all coming together – I’m going to solo thru-hike the Chinook National Recreation Trail this October! Here is a little background info on the trail, courtesy of the Chinook Trail Association:

The concept of the Chinook Trail originated in 1986 with two lifelong hiking companions, Don Cannard and Ed Robertson, who were retired educators and elementary school principals in the Vancouver School District. Standing on the summit of Silver Star, a 4,390 foot peak noted for its glorious wildflower displays, they dreamed of a trail going through the Columbia River Gorge. Originally, the trail was only going to go through Washington, but then the Forest Service suggested a bi-state loop going through Oregon and Washington. Others agreed enthusiastically, and in 1988, the Chinook Trail Association was chartered.

The original concept developed into that of a 300 mile rim top loop trail which would encircle the Columbia River Gorge. An additional 200 miles would be designated connector trails which would junction with existing trails such as the Pacific Crest Trail and communities in the Columbia River Gorge area. The first section of new trail, the Kloochman Butte connector which connects Silver Star to Washington’s Larch Mountain, began on National Trails Day in 1993 and completed a year later.

Honoring the name of the Native Americans living for thousands of years along the Columbia River, the Chinook Trail will begin at Vancouver lake near Vancouver, Washington. The trail will climb northeast to its highest point, Silver Star Mountain, before meandering onto the rims of the Columbia River Gorge and continuing upriver to Maryhill State Park, some 100 miles from Vancouver.

Completion of the Chinook Trail will come only with an enormous amount of cooperation between local, state, and federal agencies, and private ownership.The non-profit Chinook Trail Association invites you to join us in this vision for the future.

Here is my proposed route – 279.0 miles from the start in Lucia Falls Park, just north of Vancouver, WA, and ending in Gresham, OR (at McMenamin’s Edgefield) just outside of Portland, OR:

The plan is for the hike to take 12-14 days, plus a couple of nights of R&R at McMenamin’s Edgefield at the end. I will go into more detail regarding the planning of the hike, and a few of the challenges I’ve faced, but I have to thank from the start the following people and organizations: Chinook Trail Association, Klickitat Trail Conservancy and Allgood of  ALDHA-West. I believe if I complete this I’ll be the first person to do it as a solo-hiker, although I’m not 100% sure. Allgood and Snorkel were the first to complete it, doing it in 2014. My proposed route will be slightly longer than theirs, and it is 100% not due to any sort of competition – I simply want to check out Lucia Falls park at the beginning, and I want to celebrate the end at McMenamin’s Edgefield with a comfortable bed, great food and a hot shower.

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