Cherry Orchard Trail

Our trail climbed steeply, and the payoff was incredible views of the Columbia River Gorge.
Our trail climbed steeply, and the payoff was incredible views of the Columbia River Gorge.

DSC_0035I joined a Meetup Portland group recently.  I actually just heard about Meetup on the radio, and it turns out there are groups all over the country – tons of them! For stamp collectors and entrepreneurs and knitters and singles over 60 and gamers and history buffs. If you’re looking for a group to join, check this out and see if you find anything you like: http://www.meetup.com. Ok, cheesy advertisement over. (They didn’t even pay me!)

Anyhow, the group that looked the best to me was PNW Women’s Outdoor Group, Hiking in the Pacific Northwest. I made a great choice! The leader is a person brimming with positive energy, the women were all enthusiastic about being on the trail. The group offers at least three events a week – so there is no possible way I could do all of it, but I love the idea that there is always something going on, and I can sign up for what works in my crazy busy schedule.

A lovely trailhead sign for the Cherry Orchard Trail.
A lovely trailhead sign for the Cherry Orchard Trail.
We hiked through trees at the beginning, but soon climbed up and out onto the exposed mountainside.
We hiked through trees at the beginning, but soon climbed up and out onto the exposed mountainside.

I went on my first hike on an incredible and unseasonably spectacular sunny day in the Gorge. We all gathered at a meeting place just 5 minutes from my house (it couldn’t get any more convenient) and piled into vehicles together. That was nice because I was able to get to know a few of the women before we hiked.

One great thing about this group is that I will be introduced to new trails in the Columbia River Gorge that I haven’t had a chance to hike yet. In this case, I had hiked the Coyote Wall trail near Lyle, Washington, so I knew the landscape. When the announcement came out that we would be hiking the Cherry Orchard Trail that also begins near Lyle, I knew ahead of time that I would like it.

One person in our group was very knowledgeable about the wildflowers and was able to name everything we spotted.
One person in our group was very knowledgeable about the wildflowers and was able to name everything we spotted.
I was surprised at how many wildflowers were bursting to life so early in the season.
I was surprised at how many wildflowers were bursting to life so early in the season.

Our winter sun doesn’t rise very high in the sky yet, and it was a chilly chilly morning. What a boon, then, to be hiking on the Washington side. The cliffs with all the waterfalls you’ve seen in my posts are on the Oregon side, and that side stays shady much of the day all year round. On this morning we hiked the other side of the river, and soaked up the sunshine till we were toasty warm and smiling.

It was a nice short trail – only two miles – and the views hit us right away and made the little discomforts all worth it. Getting up at 6am on a weekend, bundling up in freezing morning temps, going alone into a group of strangers for a day…an inexpensive price for being out in this beautiful world with beautiful women.

Even in the leafless brown winter, this landscape is compelling.
Even in the leafless brown winter, this landscape is compelling.
Looking down onto the Columbia River.
Looking down onto the Columbia River.
That's me, holding my Tilly hat to make sure it didn't blow into the next state!
That’s me, holding my Tilly hat to make sure it didn’t blow into the next state!
I was feeling a little artistic with this one.
I was feeling a little artistic with this one.
Looking east from where we picnicked at the top of the trail.
Looking east from where we picnicked at the top of the trail.
And looking west, back toward Portland, from our lunch stop.
And looking west, back toward Portland, from our lunch stop.
Something about this landscape is stunning to me. On the surface, it is desolate and dry and colourless. Still, I find it spectacular.
Something about this landscape is stunning to me. On the surface, it is desolate and dry and colourless. Still, I find it spectacular.
This is me, photographing one of the ancient Cherry trees for which the trail takes its name. Thanks to the group leader S for the photo!
This is me, photographing one of the ancient Cherry trees from which the trail takes its name. Thanks to the group leader S for the photo!

28 thoughts on “Cherry Orchard Trail

    1. Yes, Derrick, the trail was not as dangerous as the last one I posted about, but this one also had that element of the risk of falls. Your reaction to my hiking posts is making me feel like I’m a brave hiker, ha ha!! Maybe I am. 🙂

  1. You are an artist! the pictures are very nice, somo look dry, however the landscapes ia wonderful to look at. I couldn’t have walked so long… but I’d loke to you and the other women.

    1. Good call, Andrew. This is the route of a very famous pioneer trail, the Oregon Trail, and also the route that American explorers Lewis & Clark took when they went in seek of an overland passage to the Pacific Ocean.

    1. I have not been able to find an estimated age of the cherry trees. They seem very old. What was once an orchard is now two neglected trees, with a third cherry corpse nearby. The story is that the land was purchased with the intent of protecting it for public use and building a trail. The discovery of the trees on the bluff was a delightful surprise.

    1. Very much a success. My 6-month subscription to Match was getting me nowhere with dates, so I decided to give up and look for ways to just have fun instead. haha. It is clearly one of the best ideas I’ve had, and I look forward to my next hike with them.

  2. For these views, I won’t mind trekking hours on end 🙂

    What a beautiful landscape and you have captured some really superb images , Crystal 🙂

    Thanks a lot for providing a virtual tour 🙂

    1. You are very welcome, Sreejith. I feel the same way: for these views, the hike isn’t work at all. You remind me of how I feel about Aanchal’s blog at Corners of the World: that in exchange for the amazing sights she comes across, I would be willing to suffer a lot of cold, fatigue, and demands on my patience! I am ever grateful for living in this beautiful part of the world with easy access to trails and public lands.

      1. You are so lucky to live in such a beautiful place, Crystal 🙂

        Keep exploring and share the stories and images, it would really be a treat for us 🙂

        Have a beautiful day ahead 🙂

    1. I’m glad you were able to come along with me. You are right about the mornings warming up predictably. If I have enough faith, I can get started with only a light jacket, and then I’m glad later not to have to carry my coat.

  3. Excellent find, good way to get out, terrific photos and what a happy day you must have had. Nice move, Crystal.

    I took a quick spin through the internet to read about the park. Like lots of these type of places, there seems to be some of the typical challenges (encroachment, etc) to keeping the park healthy. It seems like a lovely spot.

    1. I’m actually pretty flattered that you were intrigued enough to look into it more. Typically I include links in my posts, but I was lazy on this post. Did you find any information about the cherry trees to answer Curt’s question? Thanks for the compliments on my photos. I simply love the Gorge.

  4. Beautiful report Crystal! One of my favorite trails…going thru the forest of gnarly trees is quite magical and the view spectacular. Looking forward to visiting when the Lone Cherry tree blooms 🙂 Missed this hike but love EVERY hike I go on with PNW Womens Meet up group , everyone is so lovely.Thank you for your trail/experience summary.

    1. I am so glad you stopped by, Leea! This was a great trail and I’ll be eager to show it to my other friends now that I know about it. We were able to find two trees, but it was too early for blooming. We also found a cache inside the trunk of one tree! It had little mementos and a log book to sign. It was like finding buried treasure.

  5. Hi Crystal, Gosh it seems like it’s been too long since I’ve been able to check in on my favorite bloggers! How much fun, then, to read about you reaching out and exploring new things … friends and trails.
    They are lucky that you went in search of them! I feel sure you added much to the group.

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