A long, but rewarding climb to the Benson Plateau


On the last day of January I returned to the Benson Plateau, one of my favorite destinations.

The Plateau lies at roughly 4,000 feet above the small town of Cascade Locks, bounded to the west by the deep Eagle Creek slot canyon and to the east by the Herman Creek gorge. The area is unique in that it represents some of the original Cascades’ summit surface.

I took the easiest, though unfortunately not the shortest, way to reach the Plateau – – – the comfortably-graded Pacific Crest Trail.

After a series of lengthy, sweeping switchbacks, I stopped at a dramatic vista of the Columbia River Gorge at 3,000 feet, five miles into the hike. After several more switchbacks I was finally on Benson Plateau.

For the next two miles the PCT stayed on the eastern edge of the Plateau. I stopped at noontime for a well-desired lunch break.

Then, it was an enjoyable eight miles back to the trailhead with more than 4,000-feet of elevation loss.

Few places near Portland provide this much solitude and true wilderness experience.

A long view across the Herman Creek Canyon

A long view across the Herman Creek Canyon

With less than 10 hours of daylight, I got an early start for the nine-hour hike

With less than 10 hours of daylight, I needed an early start for the nine-hour hike

Low-lying clouds in the Herman Creek Canyon

Low-lying clouds in the Herman Creek Canyon

Late afternoon sunlight

Late afternoon sunlight

Herman Creek

Herman Creek

Beargrass lining the trail on the Benson Plateau

Beargrass lining the trail on the Benson Plateau

A long, long ways from the nearest road

A long, long ways from the nearest road

Mt. Adams peeking above the clouds

Mt. Adams peeking above the clouds

Blowdowns are always a problem in the winter

Blowdowns are always a problem in the winter

A well-know sping along the PCT

A well-know spring along the PCT

 

Categories: Columbia River Gorge HikesTags: , , ,

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