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Wauna Point Hike

From Portland Hikers Field Guide

View of Mt. Adams and Cascade Locks from the upper ridge of Wauna Point. (RSDW)
The Columbia River Gorge from the lower ridge route to Wauna Point. (RSDW)
One of several unnamed waterfalls on the Tanner Butte Trail, en route to Wauna Point. (RSDW)
Overlook of Bonneville Dam from Forest Service Road 777, en route to Wauna Point. (RSDW)


  • Start point: Tooth Rock TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Wauna Point
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: Out and Back
  • Distance: 9.4 miles round trip
  • Elevation gain: 3380 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Apr-Nov
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Hike Description

Wauna Point is often confused with nearby Wauna Viewpoint. Imagine that! However, they're hard to confuse once you're there — Wauna Viewpoint is an easily reached spot about 1,000 feet above Bonneville Dam, while Wauna Point is the ridge above Bonneville, requiring much more time and effort to walk up — and the final section is not for pets, beginners, or the poorly equipped. Fortunately, you don't have to tackle this bushwhack/scramble in order to find a pleasant viewpoint that doesn't see a lot of visitors.

From the Tooth Rock Trailhead, there are a number of confusing trails at the beginning.

To take the shortest route, go east on the paved bicycle road from Toothrock Trailhead, past the electrical substation. After about a quarter mile, watch for a single path track going uphill to the right. There is a sign, but when this was written, it was damaged. Go up that trail for at least a quarter mile and watch for another trail going off to the right again, more steeply uphill. A signs says that it leads to Trail 400. When you get there shortly, it is a dirt road. Turn right going uphill (there is also a right going downhill) and very shortly (a couple hundred yards), there is a different road cutting left - this is Road #777. There is no sign here. Take it for over a mile to the old Tanner Butte Trail #401 Trailhead. You used to be able to drive your car to here. There's a couple signs here mentioning Tanner Butte and Wauna Point.

The route logged on most of the hikes here is easier, although slightly longer. The route goes all the way on road #777. From the parking area, walk back on the road you drove in on less than 0.1 mile to the gated closed road #777. There's some sort of old structure (water tower?). Walk up this road for about two miles. There are number of spur roads and trails, but if you stay on the main road, you'll be okay. At mile 2, you reach the old Tanner Butte Trail #401 Trailhead.

Go up the Tanner Butte Trail (401). The hike now takes on a classic Gorge quality, starting with no less than four unnamed waterfalls, the first two at the confluence of two creeks (neither one Tanner Creek, as it happens). Expect to work your way across streams at least twice, when the creek pretty much becomes the trail for brief moments. More power-lines will let you know that you're about to approach another intersection with a service road — once there (around 1,500 feet), look to your right, where trail #401 continues up into the forest.

There aren't a lot of views as payback for your efforts so far, but you can look for orchids blooming in June, mostly varieties of coralroot. You also might be able to spot Munra Point through the trees to the west. The trail along this section is clear, pleasant, and moderately graded, with a couple of seasonal stream crossings. You'll crest a ridge around 2,000 feet and then continue uphill on the other side of it, with the Wauna Point ridge just visible through the trees to the east.

After hiking 2.2 miles through the forest from the Tanner Butte Trailhead, you'll come across a campsite (2,780 feet) — this also marks the junction with the unmaintained Wauna Point Trail #401D. Head along the trail past the campsite, where you'll see a sign for Wauna Point, a cairn, and another sign reading "Trail Not Maintained." The trail is easy enough to track, albeit with some overgrowth and deadfall.

After about 0.4 miles, you'll come to a faint junction. To follow the classic route, turn left and work your way downhill, passing (actually, crawling) under a fallen tree at one point. From here, caution is critical; a brief section of the trail is nearly washed out along a steep slope, making it slow-going and challenging for all but the most experienced hikers. Journeying beyond this point is simply a scramble along the ridge itself, where suggestions of the "trail" exist at most points, but can be difficult to discern at other times. When in doubt, turn back. While partially obstructed views exist here, they certainly are not among the best in the Gorge, and the risks should be minimized.

Back uphill, if you choose to turn right at the faint junction, your work will be much easier, and possibly more rewarding — follow the unmaintained trail for about 200 yards to a flat, somewhat open area at the top of a cliff, where you can enjoy views of Cascade Locks and Mt. Adams, and even Mt. Rainier to the north when visibility is unlimited.

Note: Tooth Rock Trailhead creates the easiest and shortest version of this hike, but overnight parking is not allowed. Also, Tooth Rock Trailhead has a higher incidence of car prowling than other nearby trailheads. You can access this hike from the Wahclella Falls Trailhead by hiking about 1.5 mile of Trail 400 from there to Mile 1.1 on Road 777. Alternatively, you can start at Eagle Creek Trailhead and hike west on Trail 400 for about 1.2 miles to Mile 0.7 on Road 777. Either of these alternatives will add about a mile to your round trip distance. There's a third alternative from the first Eagle Creek parking lot where caretakers sit all summer. You can hike the Historic Columbia River Highway Trail west, which here is only the glorified shoulder of I-84. Go up the Eagle Creek Staircase. At the top, right next to the stop sign, is a hidden junction with the old Portage Road. Hike up the Portage Road to its crest, where you'll find a short use path heading up the hill. This leads about 100 yards to Road 777 at mile 0.7.

Maps

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Northwest Forest Pass required at trailhead

Trip Reports

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Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Afoot and Afield Portland/Vancouver, by Douglas Lorain
  • 35 Hiking Trails, Columbia River Gorge, by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Columbia River Gorge, 42 Scenic Hikes, by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Hiking the Columbia River Gorge - 1st and 2nd Editions, by Russ Schneider
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon - 3rd Edition, by William L Sullivan

More Links

Contributors

Portland Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.