Elowah Falls-Munra Point

  • Date: January 10, 2016
  • Location: Columbia River Gorge
  • Start: John B Yeon Trailhead
  • Distance: 7 miles
  • Duration: 4 hours 26 minutes (breaks not included)
  • Elevation gain: 3010 feet
  • Type: Out-and-back
  • Map: Green Trails Map 428S: Columbia River Gorge-West
  • References: Hiking the Columbia River Gorge by Russ Schneider; Oregon Hikers

Disclaimer: Due to snow/ice conditions, we weren’t able to complete the summit to Munra Point; we look forward to trying this one again in the summer!

Munra Point has been on our “to-hike” list for the past couple of years. We actually attempted it back in March 2013, but navigation errors early on in the hike prevented us from finishing. As indicated in the opening disclaimer, we still haven’t fully completed it, but at least we got a little bit closer (and there were no navigation issues).

This hike hits two fantastic landmarks in the Columbia River Gorge in one fell (yet tedious) swoop. Elowah Falls is first on the route. The distance and elevation gain to this magnificent waterfall is minimal, so if you’re not in the mood for anything challenging, you can enjoy this beautiful spot then head back to the trailhead. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can stay on the Gorge Trail (#400) another 2 miles, paralleling the freeway for most of it. You’ll cross the bridge over Moffett Creek and, soonafter, come across a side trail heading up on the right (marked by a “trail not maintained” sign). This is the final stretch to Munra Point and the most difficult part of the hike.

Elowah Falls
Trail leading up to Munra Point

The steep scramble is comparable to those on Elk Mountain and Table Mountain, and the addition of ice and snow made it much more challenging (and, in more exposed sections, kind of nerve-racking). Mack and I were grateful to be wearing microspikes for added stability! As we neared the rock formation that is Munra Point, we noticed the footprints we’d been following stopped a few yards short of the base. After some deliberation, we decided to break trail towards the steep scramble chimney that leads to the summit. The snow was deep and frozen over the top, which meant punching and kicking to break through it at times. I stayed at the base of the chimney while Mack carefully scrambled and maneuvered himself to the top. Unfortunately, when he reached the top, there was still some climbing to do to complete the summit and access the ridgeline, and our way was covered in ice. Mack shouted these details back down to me and we decided it was too dangerous to keep going.

Hiking/scrambling up the steep path
Beneath the Munra Point summit
Looking disappointed that we weren’t able to summit

Despite the disappointment of not finishing the Munra Point hike AGAIN, we were still rewarded with some amazing views of the gorge as we descended. I imagine when the snow and ice melts we’ll be able to finish the final climb without as much risk. Until next time!

Heading back down

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