Cape Horn Loop Trail

A hiker enjoys the view from one of many benches on the Cape Horn Loop Trail.

Over the past few years, the Cape Horn Loop Trail has become one of the best-known "unknown" trails in the Columbia Gorge. This user-created trail is already making its way into hiking books and websites. Now, the U.S. Forest Service is conducting a recreation planning process for the trail.

With the recent public purchases of hundreds of acres on top of Cape Horn now, an official trail and overlook area above the Cape Horn highway pull out could provide a safer and more stunning recreation opportunity for Gorge lovers.

The top of Cape Horn was originally planned as a subdivision in the 1980s. In 1983, Friends' Founder Nancy Russell and her husband Bruce Russell took out a loan from a bank and made a no-interest loan to Trust for Public Land (TPL), enabling TPL to buy 12 of the 16 lots, effectively stopping the subdivision.  The U.S. Forest Service then bought the land from TPL. Columbia Land Trust purchased two properties in 2001, and with a 2004 U.S. Forest Service purchase, a loop was created by trail enthusiasts, making the area accessible to the public.

In 2006, Friends of the Columbia Gorge Land Trust purchased the one developed lot, the Cleveland property, from the subdivision and secured an option to purchase the other privately held rim view property. Friends' Campaign for Cape Horn raised over $4.11 million to secure the properties and provide a public overlook that honors Nancy Russell. In 2011, the Cape Horn Overlook was dedicated on the former site of the Cleveland property. The Cape Horn Conservancy is dedicated to stewarding and promoting the trails on Cape Horn.

For scenic beauty and recreation access, there is no other place on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge like the Cape Horn Loop trail.

For more details and driving directions, visit the Cape Horn Loop trail page.