Distance: 6 miles round trip (from the John B Yeon trailhead)
No parking passes required (some reports say you need a Forest Service Pass, but there was nothing indicating this at the trailhead).
Scroll to the very bottom of the post for driving and hiking directions.
The reviews I read for this hike are a little brutal, many people reporting it as “the most difficult hike” they had ever done. Don’t let that scare you. It is definitely not too difficult if you are in relatively good shape and you have a few hikes under your belt. If you want short hike that is challenging, this one is for you.
The first few miles of this hike are easy. A few little hills, but primarily flat walking ground. At just .8 miles in, you come to Elowah Falls. I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of this waterfall before, as it is over 200 feet high, cascading into a splash pool below. There is a wood bridge right in front of the waterfall, where you will get sprayed with the mist from the falls as you gaze up at this magnificent gem. There are a few places on the other side of the bridge where you can climb up for some great shots of the waterfall. These little side paths are steep and slick, but if you can get up them safely, are worth it. If you are planning on staying here for a while, you may want a rain jacket. The spray from the waterfall is pretty heavy, and it doesn’t take long to soak you. We were there on a hot day, and it the spray off was greatly welcomed.
Once you get past the falls, you will weave your way through the forest, and eventually connect to a paved bike path. You will follow the bike path for a few hundred yards until you see a sign for Gorge Trail #400. When we were there it was pretty overgrown at the beginning, but it cleared up a few yards in. You will follow this for approximately one mile, and it parallels the highway. The road noise was very loud during this portion of the hike, and it made it feel like we weren’t really hiking at all. Eventually you will connect back to the paved bike path again, and walk along it until you connect back to Gorge Trail #400 again. Someone was kind enough to have also etched “Munra” into the sign, so we knew where we were going (I do not support vandalism…but that was helpful).
Once you are back on Gorge Trail #400, you will work your way down into a ravine where you will find a footbridge across Mifford Creek. You will then start gaining a little elevation after you come out of the ravine. You will come to a fork in the trail, and you want the one to the right, where you will see a sign that says “trail not maintained” about 30 feet up the trail. This is the one you want!
At this point in the hike, you will be two miles in, and will not have gained hardly any elevation. That means you have 2,200 feet of elevation to gain in one mile. This is where it gets fun!
The trails starts climbing as you switch back up the hill. There are a lot of trails spurs throughout the next portion, and it can be confusing as to which way to go. Just stick to the right and you will be fine. If you want an extra challenge there are several places where you can scramble straight up the hill. You will have to scramble no matter which way you go, but I suggest staying to the right as much as you can.
Eventually you will come out of the forest and start seeing some pretty great views of the Columbia River. Unfortunately you will always see the highway as well. The trail will keep going up and up and up. At one point we thought we had gone the wrong way because we didn’t see where the trail continued. Turns out we just needed to climb over a really large rock and keep going up. The remained of the hike from here is a mixture of scrambling and steep hiking. It is one of my favorite kinds of trails!
Eventually you will come to a viewpoint (featured above), where a lot of people choose to call it quits. To reach the ridge, climb the rocks. If you look at the picture above, the trail actually goes between the trees and the rock. You can’t see it until you are right in front of it. This will shoot you out onto Munra Point, where you have plenty or ridge-line to explore!
Take your time up at the top, and watch your step! The footpath is only about a foot and a half wide, and you are definitely on a ridge. People have fallen and gotten seriously injured up there. If you fall, you aren’t stopping for a VERY long time. Just be careful and you will be fine.
What I loved about this hike:
-The terrain! I love scrambles. This hike not just a stroll past a waterfall, and I loved that.
-The ridges at the top. Don’t get me wrong, they were a little nerve-wracking, because you really don’t have any room for error when you are on the ridge. But simultaneously, there is nothing quite like standing on a ridge after you’ve climbed a mountain. It is pretty spectacular.
What I didn’t love about the hike:
-You are close to the highway the entire time. There is a solid mile of hiking right next to the highway, which just felt wrong. Even when you are on top of the ridge, you see highway. When I’m hiking, I don’t like any reminder of civilization. I just didn’t feel like it was remote enough.
-I never lost cell service. I put my phone on airplane mode because I didn’t want contact with the outside world. But having cell service at my fingertips just felt wrong. I want to be out of reach if I’m hiking. Half of the fun is being disconnected from the rest of the world!
Still worth it? For sure.
-Take pictures at the top, but be considerate! The path is only safe enough for one person at a time, and I waited a good five minutes for the couple with their selfie stick before I could go out on the ridge. Don’t block the whole trail for the sake of your Instagram.
-You will do a LOT of scrambling on this hike. If you have bad knees, you should probably wear knee braces for the hike back down. My knees were pretty angry with me by the time we got back to the car.
-Bring lots of water and snacks. It’s a strenuous climb, don’t do it hungry!
-This is not a family friendly hike. Don’t bring the kiddos.
-Bring a jacket – it is REALLY windy at the top, and it gets chilly fast.
-Wear good shoes. I saw people do this in chacos, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The terrain is rough. I wore my hiking boots and wished I’d had something lighter, but definitely wear something with good soles and that will protect your feet from the sharp rocks.
-There are 2 different trailheads you can use to get to Munra Point. We chose this trailhead because you get to see Elowah Falls. The other trailhead cuts a mile off your overall trip. To see directions and details you can check it out here.
Park at the John B Yeon trailhead, and start hiking towards Elowah Falls. The trail will be clearly marked. Continue past Elowah Falls until you reach a paved bike path. Walk along the bike path until you reach Gorge Trail #400, which will be on the right. Take the 400 trail; it will parallel the highway for about a mile, until you intersect with the paved bike path again. Walk a short distance down the paved bike path until you see the sign for Gorge Trail #400 again, and take the 400 trail once more. You will descend into a ravine and come across Moffett Creek. After you cross the foot bridge you will start to climb out of the ravine. You will soon reach a fork in the trail, and you will want to go right. Approximately 30 feet up the trail to the right you will see a sign that reads “trail not maintained.” You are on the right trail! The trail will branch off in multiple places from this point. Any of the spurs will get you to the correct destination, but the easiest and safest route is to stay to the right as much as you can. You will break through the tree line and start seeing spectacular views of the Columbia River. Keep going up. If you reach a point in the trail where you aren’t sure which direction to go, you most likely just go up. You will eventually reach a lookout point and will be able to see the ridge. Keep climbing up, and you it will put you on the ridge. Be safe on your way back down!
Click here for a map to the trailhead (google maps) .
Drive I-84 east to Exit 35 for the Historic Highway, Ainsworth State Park, Dodson and Warrendale.
After 0.1 mile, turn left for Dodson, Warrendale and Hood River.
In another 0.1 miles, make a right turn onto NE Frontage Road for Dodson.
Drive 2.1 miles on Frontage Road and then pull into parking on the right for John B. Yeon State Park.
From the east:
Take Exit 37, signed Warrendale. Head west on Warrendale Road for about 1/4 mile and turn left to go under the highway.
Turn left, go under the freeway and turn left again on to Frontage Road.
Drive 1/4 mile east to the trailhead parking lot just before the road re-enters the highway.
- This link has a great tool that provides pictures for specific portions of the trail. It is really helpful for identifying specific landmarks. It is assuming you are starting at a different trailhead, but it is still worth checking out.
- For current reviews and trail reports you can go here.
- For more general info and a few more trail reports, go here.