You’ve got one more month to help the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area celebrate its 25th birthday, and you’ll catch the best fall color when you do so.

For the anniversary of the founding of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area in 1986, Friends of the Columbia Gorge put together the “Top 25 Trails in the Gorge” and challenged people to hike them all between March and October 31.

Serious contenders are competing for a weekend getaway in the Gorge. To do so, you need to be a registered member of Friends. But you don’t have to be a member to enjoy the Top 25 Trails list, which includes some must-do hikes. Go on your own, or join one of Friends’ numerous free guided hikes.

“What is really unique about the Top 25 Trails is that nearly half of them were not in public hands 25 years ago,” said Maegan Jossy, outdoor programs coordinator at Friends of the Columbia Gorge.

Since 1980, Friends has helped add 38,000 acres of private land to public ownership.

The drama of the Gorge’s sheer cliffs and cascading waterfalls is heightened in the fall with the bright yellow and red fall foliage. And you’ll often find Gorge sunshine just beyond a cloudy Portland horizon.

Here are some upcoming guided hikes from the Top 25 list:

Elowah Falls: This 3.5-mile, moderate out-and-back trail is a great family hike to one of the tallest waterfalls in the Gorge. Saturday, Oct. 8.

Multnomah to Wahkeena Falls Loop: A 4.8-mile loop, this trail gains 1,540 feet in elevation as it passes 10 dramatic waterfalls, including the iconic Multnomah Falls. Saturday, Oct. 15.

Latourell Falls: Check out this easy, 2.4-mile hike that passes upper and lower falls and picturesque sections of the Historic Columbia River Highway. Saturday, Oct. 29.

Since all that hiking is sure to get your appetite up, stop in Hood River on the way home to enjoy the seasonal bounty of fall at farm to table restaurants like Brian’s Pourhouse, Nora’s Table, Sixth Street Bistro and Celilo Restaurant and Bar.

For more information, and to register for guided hikes, go to http://gorgefriends.org.

about author Eileen Garvin

Eileen Garvin lives and writes in Hood River. When she’s not hunched over her keyboard or digging in the garden, you can find her mountain biking, kiteboarding, hiking, skiing or camping somewhere in Oregon.

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