Columbia Gorge Wildflower Hike with Next Adventure
Dry-side Spring wildflowers are peaking in the east Gorge.  Next Adventure Outdoor School was there last weekend to see the plateaus and hillsides covered in color.  Balsam root and lupine flowers dominated the scene with fields of sunny-yellow and purple-blue.

Balsam Root Flower in Columbia Gorge  Blue Lupine and Cliff Views of Columbia River Gorge

But other flowers in bloom included red paintbrush, white yarrow,  frilly prairie stars, pink penstemon, and the endemic Hood River Milkvetch (pictured with a brown skipper on it).

Red Painbrush flower in Columbia River Gorge  Yarrow Flower and bug

Prairie Star Flower in Columbia River Gorge  Penstemon flower

Hood River Milk Vetch  Hike up McCall Point Trail Wildflowers in Columbia Gorge

We hiked the short-but-steep McCall Point Trail, gaining broader vistas as the path wound up the hillside through more and more wildflowers.  Mount Adams' glaciated white peak grew larger as it cleared the foothills north of the blue ribbon of the Columbia River.
Mount Adams across Columbia River from McCall Point
Magestic Mount Hood popped out to the west, underlined by balsam root, minutes before summiting.
Mount Hood above Balsam Root Flowers in Columbia River Gorge
We encountered a wide range of wildlife, including many western fence lizards, swallowtail butterflies (pictured below on a lupine), many other insect pollenators, an birds such as turkey vultures, swallows, and lazuli buntings.  We could hear larks, but never saw one.

Western Fence Lizard in Columbia River Gorge  Swallowtail butterfly on lupine in Columbia River Gorge

After a scenic lunch among wildflowers atop McCall Point, we made the return hike down, and then looped around the lake on the lower plateau.  Little yellow monkey flowers bloomed in the swales below the pond, and pink wild roses were just starting to bloom.  A mule deer hid in the brush, watching us warily over its shoulder as we passed on the trail less than ten feet away.

Yellow monkeyflower in Columbia River Gorge  Wild Rose in Columbia River Gorge

Learn more about the wildflowers of the Columbia River Gorge and Mount Hood at a free presentation on Thursday, May 23, 2013, at 7:00 p.m. at the Next Adventure Outdoor Store, 426 SE Grand Avenue, Portland, Oregon.  I'll be presenting, with a slide show of local flowers, and the low-down on where and when to find the showiest blooms.
Panoramic views of Columbia Gorge wildflowers

Or join Next Adventure Outdoor School for a wildflower hike.  We'll be heading out to the Clackamas River on Sunday, May 19 to hike up to Pup Creek Falls and see what flowers are blooming along the river.  Then we'll be hiking along the Riverside Trail on June 15 to see what's blooming under the big old-growth trees.  We'll be back in the Columbia Gorge on July 13 to see the summer blooms in the west Gorge at Angel's Rest.

NA's Outdoor School also offers backpacking trips for total immersion in nature.  Our first trip of the season is two days and one night, June 1-2, 2013.  July 20-21 is the next 2-day backpack trip, and then there are options for 3- and 4-day trips, including a 4-day ultra-light experience along the Pacific Crest Trail August 5-8.

Check out for full trip listings and to sign up.

See you along the trail!
Sitting in wildflower fields in Columbia River Gorge
Greg Hill is a Next Adventure Outdoor School Lead Guide and Outreach Instructor.
Reach Greg at