Chinidere Loop with PCT and Herman Creek
One of the great loops (around 22 miles) in the Columbia River Gorge takes you from the Herman Creek Trailhead just east of Cascade Locks up to Chinidere Mountain and back. I arrived on a foggy morning and set out, following the Herman Creek trail to the PCT. Climbing up in elevation took me into a dense cloud hovering in the forests burned by the Eagle Creek fire where the lush undergrowth is returning amongst the charred trees. The PCT rises to the edge of the expansive Benson Plateau and then continues climbing till it rounds the south side of the Chinidere Mountain. Running through the dense, precipitating cloud with my hands losing feeling, and knowing there would be no view at the top, I pressed passed the turnoff for the summit and headed back north, leaving the PCT for the Herman Creek Trail. The trail descends into the drainage Herman Creek drainage, entering ancient forests unaffected by the fires. Around Cedar Swamp Camp are some beautiful large cedars, and the soft trail makes for an enjoyable descent along the creek.