The Steep Ascent to the Table Mountain Summit


Bonneville Hotsprings

Table Mountain overlooks Bonneville Dam from the Washington side of the Columbia River. At one point in history the entire south face of Table Mountain fell into the Columbia River providing for a sheer 2,500-foot cliff. A hiking trail ends at the very top of the cliff providing spectacular panoramic views.

Before access was stopped, you could park at the Bonneville Hotsprings Resort and began hiking north. (Now, one must park near the Bonneville Dam, adding a few miles each way to the hike).

From the Resort’s parking lot the first mile of hiking followed a rough trail to Carpenters Meadow where an old logging road was met.

The flat table top of Table Mountain

Table Mountain rising high above

Heartbreak Ridge Trail

After another one mile the rough trail reached the Pacific Crest Trail, always well graded and manicured. In an additional one-half mile the southern beginning to the Heartbreak Ridge Loop Trail was found.

Bythis time 1,700 feet of elevation had been gained since leaving the car. There was another 1,700 feet of elevation gain required to reach the top of Table Mountain. To put the Heartbreak Ridge Trail in perspective, the rough trail gains the summit in a little over one mile – – – a very steep one mile!  And, to make matters worse, over 500 feet of the gain was straight up a steep rock slide (imagine climbing 50 flights of stairs with the majority of stairs either wobbly or loose.) 

After reaching the top it was a quarter of mile southerly hike to the apex of the sheer face of Table Mountain. This is not only a grand spot for lunch but it is the best viewpoint in the Gorge.

From there it is a short hike to the north end of the “table” where the loop Trail begins its descent. Many wildflowers are in bloom in spring and early summer in the exposed areas. Sometimes both wild orchids and lilies can be spotted.

The loop trail drops back into the second-growth Douglas Fir and Alder forest. From there it is an easy hike back to the car.

All in all the hike is 10 miles in length with 3,500 feet of elevation gain. It is a great conditioning hike.

A Pika came out to join me as I was resting on a climb up a Talus slope

From the top of Table Mountain

Wild Orchids

Fellow Mazamas that I met on the summit, including two old friends

Mt. Adams from the summit of Table Mountain

A stormy look up the Columbia River

Wild Lilies 

Buzzard floating in the thermals

Mt. Hood from the summit of Table Mountain

Climbing up the mountain

Categories: Columbia River Gorge HikesTags: , , , ,

1 comment

  1. Those whiskers really stand out!

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