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Study Weekend Field trips


We’ve lined up a list of field trips and activities that will offer a range of options for exploring our region.           

Use this guide to make your selections.  You will select first, second and third choice field trips for each day on your registration form.   The guide provides additional links to plant lists, additional hike information, pass requirements and driving distances for each trip.

Hike and Activities Descriptions 2018 - view this file! Updated!

Please scroll down through the page for at-a-glance descriptions for each trip,  as well as solid advise for a safe fun time in Columbia Gorge habitats. 

Saturday, May 4th, Choose 1st, 2nd and 3rd Choices by Number





Key Features


Crawford Oaks

Susan Saul 
& Paul Slichter

5 miles
Elev. gain 700'

This is prime time to visit the Columbia Hills State Park for the balsamroot-lupine bloom.  We will hike a loop on the Vista Loop, Military Road and Access Road trails, ascending past Eightmile Creek Falls to the top of rimrock basalt cliffs with sweeping views of the Columbia River Gorge and upward to the summit of the Columbia Hills


Crawford Oaks 

Donna Enz
& Ron Klump

as above

Repeat above due to demand


Dalles Mountain 
Restoration Project

Bob Hansen

1 mile
Elev. gain 180-

For the last two years this project has received partial funding from WNPS Conservation Grant.  The purpose of the grant is to help restore grass prairie steppes to a more natural state by using intensive fall cattle grazing AFTER the grasses and flowers have seeded!


Four Sisters

Elizabeth Staneck, 
Katie Conley &
Mary Bushman

3 miles 
Easy cross country
Elev. gain 100'

Hike the beautiful prairie hills just west of The Dalles on 7 Mile Hill.  The property, owned by Columbia Land Trust, is a very special place that is home to several large vernal pools surrounded by hundreds of acres of balsamroot, milkvetch, lupine, and much more.


Hood River Mountain

Heidi Venture
& Joe Arnett

3 miles
Elev. gain 750"

Slopes of lupine, balsamroot, paintbrush, and buckwheat overlook views of the entire Hood River Valley far below.


Klickitat Natural Resources Conservation Area

Sara Wu, Keyna Bugner & Carolyn Wright

4 miles
Moderate Loop
Elev. gain 300'

The conservation area is noted for its spectacular views of the undammed and free-flowing Klickitat River, mixed coniferous forest and habitat for seven rare plants.


Memaloose Hills

Kevin Head & Bill Brookreson

5.2 miles 
Elev.gain 700'

The two hilltops accessible to the public are Chatfield Hill (AKS Castilleja Hill) and Marsh Hill.  The trail goes through many habitats--wooded forest, volcanic steeps, oak woodland, stream, and grasslands--providing wide varieties and brilliant wildflower shows in the spring.


Memaloose Hills

Drew Merritt
& Kristen Currin

as above 

Repeat due to demand



Joy Markgraf &
Barbara Robinson

2.5 mile
Easy off-trail
Elev. gain 100'

This special exclusive hike will be an off trail easy "scramble" through the privately-owned wetlands and nature preserve.  In addition to many early spring wildflowers Sandhill Cranes may be nesting in the area.


Rattlesnake Falls Trail

Will Block 

2.5 mile
Elev. 1960' with loss of 560'

Rattlesnake Falls drops in a classic basalt box canyon that itself leads to another waterfall, Lower Rattlesnake Falls, which spouts into a deep plunge pool below a towering cliff face. The variety of wildflowers here in the spring is a second lure.


Swale Canyon 

Clay Antieau

5.3 miles
Elev. 1550 with loss of 550'

Start the hike at Harms Road and follow Swale Creek downstream.  This is lonely country with broad, windswept vistas that narrow as you enter the canyon. Springtime brings flowers sometimes as early as late February or early March. Look for black desert parsley, balsamroot, phlox, lupine and much more along the trail.


Weldon Wagon Trail 

Cathy Flick &
Krista Thie

5.4 mile
Elev. gain 560'

The trail climbs gently but steadily for about 2.5 mi through second-growth conifers and then oak savannah before entering oak-conifer woods (White Salmon Oak NRCA). It finally levels out at the edge of a small rural community at the end of Sanborn Rd.  Sasquatch was seen near the top of the trail in past years, but more recently has disappeared


Wildflower Photography with cell phones

Mark Turner

2.5 mile
Elev. gain 200'

Learn how to master your cellphone's camera to capture great plant portraits in the field along the Major Creek road. Find new ways to see and get eye-to-eye with your favorite spring wildflowers.

Sunday, May 6
;  Choose first, second and third options (all day 2 hikes, begin with "2", ie. "21"))


Trip #




Key Features


Catherine Creek Arch Loop

Ron Klump &
Kevin Head

3 miles
Elev.gain 400'

This extremely popular hike starts with a cross country trek ascending the plateau on the east side of Catherine Creek through an old burn area.  Thin soil over volcanic basalt is particularly suitable for numerous small spring flowers such as grass widows, saxifrages, shooting stars, yellow bells, camas, yellow patches of gold stars, several bitterroot, Lomatiums, and many others including several endemics.


Catherine Creek Arch Loop

Sue Kusch &
Don Schaechtel

as above 

Repeat due to demand


Columbia Hills Natural  Area

Keyna Bugner & Carolyn Wright

5 miles 
Elev.gain 1670'

Part of the hike will be along the road and part will be off trail – poles advised.  Dramatic 360-degree views of Columbia basin and valleys below and Simcoe mountains to the northeast.  


Klickitat Trail

Chris Earle &
Bonnie Blessing 


5 miles
2 trips - 
approx. 400'gain each


1) Pitt To Mitchell Homestead. 
Beginning at WA 142 MP 10, the path on the old rail bed heads up the river, squeezed between Highway 142 and the torrent. White alder, oak, willow, maples and ponderosa fringe the waters. 

2) Mineral Springs Trail
Walk past the green gate and kiosk at the parking area onto an open trail under ponderosa pines, white oaks and white alders. Poison oak abounds along this trail. The Klickitat river runs to your right. Pass through red osier dogwood, white alder, thimbleberry, and buck brush. Lomatiums (both Columbia and pungent) scent the air. 


Field Use of Cell Phones to ID Wildflowers

Ben Legler


Paved Loop

Following the introduction, the activity will move to the paved loop trail of Catherine Creek for actual in- field use of the app.  https://www.pnwflowers.com


Humble Roots Nursery

Andrew Merritt

12 mile drive

Very busy this time of the year and normally available only by appointment, Drew has agreed to have the nursery open specially to WNPS members for today.  Please also visit their website https://www.humblerootsnursery.com/ 



Mill Creek Ridge

Barbara Robinson 

3 miles
Elev.gain 500'

Mill Creek Ridge is a recent acquisition of Columbia Land Trust, about 6 miles south of The Dalles.  Cresting the top, hikers explore a beautiful, long, open ridge with a view of Mt. Hood and the neighboring ridges looking down into the Mill Creek Valley. 


Mosier Plateau & Tom McCall Preserve

Fred & Ann

2 hikes total 
6.5 miles
Elev.gain 490'

Mosier Plateau:  The trail starts on the east side of the old bridge on Highway 30.  A small sign directs you up a short, steep path to the old pioneer cemetery.   Hiking just 1/4 mile you will see the beautiful, two-tiered Mosier Falls.  Tom McCall Nature Preserve:  Stroll through slopes of Columbia desert parsley, manroot, balsamroot, fiddleneck, gold stars, prairie stars, and bi-color lily.  


Tom McCall Point 

Joe Arnett
& Ed Lisowski

3.5 miles
Elev.gain 700'

Walk a wildflower-packed trail and climb from a great view of the Columbia River to an even greater view near the sunshine end of the Gorge.  The trail follows an old pioneer wagon route across the plateau for 0.5 miles, where you'll find fields of purple wildflowers in the spring.


Tom McCall Point 

Heidi Venture 
& Sandy DeMent

as above 

Repeat due to demand


Washougal Oaks Natural Area

Carlo Abbruzzese

Easy, short hike 

This easy, short hike accesses some flat wetland species and rare plants in a nearly urban setting.

Preserved form development the area features white Gary oaks (Quercus garryana) and many other species including small-flowered trilliums, Carex, rushes, two kinds of camas, and Bradshaw's lomatium among other species.


Willard Springs

Paul Slichter
& Susan Saul

3.8 mile
Easy Loop
Elev.gain 100'

Popular for wildflowers, birds, and wildlife, this trail loops along the edge of the Conboy Lake marsh, through open sagebrush and through a pine forest providing diverse habitats for wildflowers.  An observation platform provides splendid views of the marsh and 12,000-foot Mt. Adams to the north.


Penny Creek /
Monte Carlo

Will Bloch 
& Dell Rhodes

Two Options:

  1. Penny Ridge plus Monte Carlo:

 5-6 miles; moderate difficulty; in-and-out between 3500’ and 4000’; one-way drive about 20 miles, half paved, half well-graded gravel.

      2. Penny Ridge only

1-mile; very easy; 0-50’ elevation change at 3500’; actual exertion tailored to the participant; this option is ideal for a wide range of mobility impairment, and for artists who would rather sketch than walk.

Be sure to check out full details of Field Trips & available Plant Lists in the attachment listed above.



A general note:  Humans are not the only creatures who make eastern Washington their home.   We share our wonderful open spaces with a variety of animals, large and small, some of which are venomous, some of which are disease vectors, and a few of which are large and prone to challenge possible intruders.   Everyone should wear sturdy footwear and consider ankle protection.  Long pants tucked into socks and long sleeves will reduce, but not eliminate, the potential for mosquito bites and tick hitchhikers.  Do not approach moose, elk or deer no matter how photogenic they seem.  Rattlesnakes, while common throughout eastern Washington, will take every opportunity to avoid human encounters.  Nonetheless, if cornered or taken by surprise, they will protect themselves.  Look, before you stick fingers and toes under shrubs or into rock crevices. 

Some trips are limited to 10 participants.  Please note we make every effort to provide programs people have requested.  

Weather in eastern Washington in May is unpredictable.  Wear layers, and bring at least a light weight rain jacket.   Bring lunch and snacks and plenty of drinking water for all trips.

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Study Weekend Main Page

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Updated: February 15, 2018
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