Hiking in the Gorge? Check before you go

Plenty of places to go -- just make sure you're on an open trail

The popular and heavily used Oneonta Trail was heavily damaged by the Eagle Creek Fire and is one of many Gorge spots that will remain closed possibly as long as through 2018. (Josh Kulla/Gresham Outlook)
The popular and heavily used Oneonta Trail was heavily damaged by the Eagle Creek Fire and is one of many Gorge spots that will remain closed possibly as long as through 2018. (Josh Kulla/Gresham Outlook)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Want to go hiking in The Columbia River Gorge this weekend? There are open trails, but many are closed — and you face trouble if you go on a closed trail.

The Eagle Creek Fire, still only 50% contained, has burned more than 48,000 acres since it began on September 2. It’s one of 31 active fires in Oregon right now.

> Eagle Creek Fire trail closures
> Alternative trails that are open

The US Forest Service confirmed to KOIN 6 News at least a dozen hikers have been caught on restricted trails, though the number is likely much higher than that. They’ve had more than 1,700 interactions with people approaching a closure since September 19.

Last week alone the Forest Service said a couple hundred cars tried to access closed areas but turned around when they were told not to pass. That just points to how many people don’t know which trails are open.

Those that are caught in a closed area face a citation of around $280.

“We urge people to stay away until they determine it’s safe,” Eagle Creek Fire spokesperson Lidi Soto said. “We had 17 security checkpoints with the minimal fire activity and suppression winding down, really the biggest concern is how are we going to keep the area secure?”

They understand it’s frustrating when the most popular trails in the Gorge are closed, including Mutlnomah Falls and Eagle Creek, but it is a safety issue.

“We have weakened root systems, rocks that are ready to come down and even a little bit of rain or a little bit of wind might shift a lot of those,” Soto said. “It’s definitely not ready to be open.”

There are still plenty of places to explore, especially on the Washington side like the Klickitat Trail and Falls Creek Falls Trail.

If you are going, check the US Forest Service’s Alerts and Notices and find out what is accessible.

And if you’re planning a hike, the Forest Service has an entire list of what is and what isn’t available in the Gorge at this time.

KOIN 6 News will have more information later in the day.