The Historic Columbia River Highway has been one of the country's most significant transportation and civil engineering resources for over eight decades. Many marveled at the road during construction, and soon called it "the King of Roads." Within a decade of its construction, the Highway was obsolete. Too narrow and winding for larger automobiles and transport trucks, it was bypassed. Two major segments were preserved as scenic drives, but large portions were abandoned and significant resources were lost.
By the 1980s, public interest grew for returning drivable portions of the Highway to their 1920s appearance--based on careful documentation--and rehabilitating abandoned segments for trail use. Since then, drivable portions of the Highway, its masonry structures, bridges, and culverts have been repaired or replaced.
The road is a popular tourist destination along with Multnomah Falls, the most popular natural site in Oregon, drawing over two-million visitors annually. The Falls are accessible both from the highway and nearby Interstate 84.
|Shepperds Dell and pedestrian trail (left of falls) one of the many historic designed landsccapes along the Historic Columbia River Highway. (Photo courtesy Robert Hadlow, Ph.D.)
Several contiguous segments of the HCRH State Trail, from Moffett Creek to Cascade Locks, are open for hiking and biking. Trailheads, located intermittently along this segment, are directly accessible from Interstate 84 and offer parking and interpretive signage. The segment from Hood River to Mosier will provide 6.5 miles of trail, including the Mosier Twin Tunnels. Trailheads at either end offer parking and restroom facilities. In addition, the west trailhead will offer a visitor contact station. And so the work continues.