By Rod Hooker
I have worked on many trails and remember some with affection. However, I do believe this new trail – the western loop of the Lyle Cherry Orchard property (owned and overseen by the Friends of the Columbia River Gorge) – has to be one of the all-time great WTA trail projects. And, in a unique environment – a trail along the loess covered basalt cliffs, overlooking the river both east and west.
This is a privileged place to visit and trail making at its best. First, WTA Regional Manager Ryan Ojerio gets full credit for laying out a really fine and clever track – a requirement by The Friends. This was a challenging assignment as some of the hills facing the river are vertical and one could fall traversing the slopes.
With red pin flags planted along the line of proposal, we followed with tools to carve out a path. Primarily a woodland, this is a dense oak forest where we wended our way by carving a bench and a tread, challenged by roots and branches. Here a well-designed set of trail turns brings one to a lower elevation – a way where the skill and experience in trail planning was admired. If not challenging enough, this new course crosses open meadows where the scar of a trail has to be minimized to viewers below- a narrow tread was required and dirt dispersed. And the complicating factor is the trail had to avoid stands of rare plants, which meant the bypass needed to traverse dense clusters of poison oak.
With all said, once this trail is finished it will be an open secret for day trippers. Coming this fall.