Multnomah Falls, OR/Horsethief Lake State Park, WA
Aug 19, 2008
|Start odometer: 42,844 End odometer: 42,906
We traveled 62 miles today from Ainsworth State Park in Troutville, OR to Horsethief Lake State Park in Marysville, WA.
We had hoped to go from here to Hood River and take the train ride to Mount Hood, but the forecast called for rain and winds approaching 45 mph so we decided to cross the river into Washington a day early rather than risk a high wind crossing with the trailer.
Since we were camped along the Historic Columbia River Highway, we decided to explore some of it before checkout time. The highway was constructed between 1913-1922 without benefit of modern construction equipment and computer-aided design. It was the first major paved road in the Pacific Northwest along what could have been considered an impossible route.
The road was built with men, horses, and innovative machinery. And they did it with elegance, reconciling the beauty of nature with the needs of civilization. It was considered one of the greatest engineering feats of it’s day. The road’s architect, Samuel C. Lancaster, worked diligently to showcase the many waterfalls and other beauty spots. This was the first scenic highway to be designated a National Historic Landmark. The stonework and arches highlight the road’s exquisite craftsmanship.
Our fist stop along the highway was Horsetail Falls which was just stunning. Horsetail Falls plummets 176 feet into Horsetail Creek. We admired the stonework created by the Civilian Conservation Corps. It is still intact and functional after almost 100 years. Natasha waded a bit in the creek at the base of the falls.
We stopped at Oneonta and viewed an old bridge where you can see one of the tunnels lost that were filled in when the route of the original highway was changed. Advocates for the highway hope one day to re-open this tunnel for hikers and bicyclists.
We visited Multnomah falls, the most-visited natural site in Oregon. It’s an awesome sight and sound of pure water cascading over the basalt ledge some 620 feet. Natasha and grandpa took the hike up the hill to view the falls from the Benson footbridge. It was a rainy morning and the wet asphalt made granny hesitate.
Original parts of the highway, often referred to as the King of Roads, are still narrow and winding and are not recommended for large motorhomes.
We returned to Ainsworth and broke camp, satisfied with the morning’s outing.
We took a short ride through Hood River and were not to fond of the traffic, so we headed on. We’d heard that the Dalles area was a favorite vacation spot but were not impressed with the terrain so we crossed over into Washington and stayed at Horsethief Lake State Park near Marysville.
The park was nice enough, the campsites were gravel with water & electric hookups for $23/night. Oregon State Parks are less expensive. The big draw was the lake which was formed when the Dalles Dam was constructed. We’re back in the desert and it’s a lot warmer than the Gorge. Natasha wasted no time in putting on her bathing suit and running through the lawn sprinklers. Soon she was at the lake and in the water. She seemed to thoroughly enjoy her swim.
After dinner we took a ride to see the petroglyphs which are on display in this park. There were thousands of these along the Columbia River Gorge but only about 30 were spared when the Dalles Dam was constructed. This is a sacred site for native American peoples.
No S’mores tonight; no campfires are allowed in Washington State Parks during “Burn Bans”.