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West of Cascade Locks on the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail Following federal designation of the Columbia River

Gorge National Scenic Area, the Oregon state legislature in 1987 identified a strong desire to bring the highway back to its original, if a bit changed, splendor. The Oregon Department of Transportation began working with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, the Oregon State Preservation Office, and Travel Oregon to restore and recon- nect the abandoned sections of road into a multiuse trail, enabling bikers and hikers to experience the old highway’s dramatic vistas and its restored historic bridges, tunnels, guardrails, and beautifully arched rock masonry walls. Since then, 63 of the original 73 miles have been opened to travel by bicycle and foot, as well as motor vehicle, restor- ing the beauty of the “King of Roads.” Ten miles of the aban- doned road still await reconnection as a trail. The Historic Columbia River Highway Advisory Committee and the Friends of the Historic Columbia River Highway have joined together to advocate for the completion of the trail. An effort is currently underway to fund five of the

remaining miles of trail. The Western Federal Lands Highway Division of the Federal Highway Administration is leading the charge and developing the engineering for this section of trail, with construction to start later in 2015. A completed trail will give Oregonians and visitors from

around the world access to even more state parks, hidden waterfalls, and spectacular views of the Columbia River. Pedestrians and bicyclists will soon be able to travel the entire Columbia River Gorge between Troutdale (16 miles east of Portland) and The Dalles (84 miles east of Portland). Once completed, the Historic Columbia River Highway

State Trail will become a global pedestrian and cycling desti- nation, helping local communities tap into the economic impact that visitors and Oregonians will bring. Communities like Mosier, which were bustling when the highway opened 100 years ago, “went to sleep” after the new freeway bypassed their downtowns in the 1950s. When the rubble was removed from the Mosier Twin

Tunnels and the Hood River-to-Mosier segment of the state trail opened, people rediscovered Mosier. Several new busi-

10 SPRING 2015

nesses have opened in this once forgotten, small community. The completion of the trail will continue to contribute to a more viable atmosphere for small communities to thrive and sustain along the route once again. The project has been a conversation starter for many

Oregon community leaders, as well. They now see them- selves as part of something larger. Similarly, they’ve come to recognize that if one town gets a new asset that draws visi- tors, it benefits all of the communities, creating a greater sense of shared community. What’s more, beautiful stretches of the historic highway

are owned by Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, making them public property. Once the trail is complete it will enable Oregonians and visitors to experience areas that only a handful of agency officials have seen since the 1950s. The Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail gives today’s hikers and bicyclists an opportunity to experience the Columbia River Gorge much like their predecessors did along the highway a century ago, with the wind blowing in their hair and the wonderful scent of wildflowers in the air.

For more on the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail, visit

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