As spring reaches full bloom, Oregonians are eager to hit a hiking trail. Fortunately in the Columbia River Gorge there’s a new way to discover the nooks and crannies of the region, one that encourages visitors to try local flavors too.
I consider the Mosier Plateau Trail a “back-pocket hike” because it’s handy and easy to reach. The trail is jam-packed with wildflowers and a waterfall too — the 100-foot Mosier Creek Falls is quite stunning.
The Mosier Plateau Trail is the first completed trail segment of Towns to Trails, an ambitious project by the Friends of the Columbia Gorge – and supported by the Travel Oregon Forever Fund – that aims to connect the region’s towns, businesses and wild areas through a 200-mile trail system.
Renee Tkach, program manager of Towns to Trails, says the concept is easy to understand and fun to enjoy: “You don’t have to carry a big, heavy backpack any longer. You carry or wear a lightweight day pack for your short hikes and spend the night at B&B lodges or hotels and enjoy the fruits of the area.”
Towns to Trails is a terrific travel idea for small, local businesses like Rack & Cloth, a cider house in Mosier. Owner Kristina Nance is proud of their homemade ciders and really likes the idea of inviting hikers into her business for a meal and a sip: “When you explore an area on foot, you get a much greater opportunity to take more time and maybe kick a rock or two along the trail. You can also see every little wildflower on display in spring. This is such a beautiful place.”
Another local Mosier shop, Route 30 Classics, shows off plenty of sportscar memorabilia, including owner Stephen Demasthenes’ prized Porsches on display.
But it’s the collection of the new IZIP electric bikes that Demasthenes is banking on. The rental bikes are meant for folks who might need a little extra help pedaling up the Gorge hills. He says, “You do have to pedal and as you pedal it’s like somebody is just pushing you by the seat along — it just picks up speed — but if you stop pedaling, then the electric motor stops working.
The Towns to Trails experience also reaches into Gorge wine country. A connecting trail loop will eventually link three local wineries, creating a wine sampling adventure known as “wiking.”
“We love it!” notes Analemma Wines owner Kris Fade. “In fact, the neighbors on either side of us are really excited about the hiking idea too. Whether it’s to support our business or support the community, access to a trail system like this is really exciting to us.”
In a timeless place that’s easy on the eyes and where the sunlit views are never the same, Towns to Trails is a brilliant idea.
“It’s for Gorge visitors who want to visit an incredible site that’s only available via the trail and that looks west,” says Tkach. “It’s also for our Mosier community and their businesses. It brings in people from all over the region — even all over the world — and then mixes them in a great cultural experience.”
Ready to hit the trail? Please visit ReadySetGorge.com to review travel trips for exploring Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area before planning a trip to the Mosier Plateau Trail.