A stunning mix of history and scenery along the Columbia River (2015)
Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail — Mosier Twin Tunnels
With its cliff-hugging curves and majestic views, Highway 30 was once ranked among the grandest highways in the nation during a time when a leisurely drive was the destination. The opening of Interstate 84 marked the end of that era, and Highway 30 is now closed to vehicle traffic—and open to explorers. A 5-mile stretch of the Historic Columbia River State Trail between Mosier and Hood River allows hikers and bicyclists to retrace the route once traversed by Ford Model A’s and Model T’s.
This paved section between Mosier and Hood River is perfect for a winter hike — and if timed just right, you can enjoy it on snowshoes or cross-country skis. The reward: panoramas of the mighty Columbia River Gorge, majestic basalt formations rising above you, hustle of traveling goods and people far below on the interstate and railroad.
But the highlight is most certainly the Mosier Twin Tunnels, built in 1921 through a high rock area, then abandoned and filled with rock in 1954 when I-84 was built. The state restored and reopened the tunnels to visitors in 2004. Within, look for milepost 72 of the historic highway, as well as carved graffiti from 1921 with the names of people who were trapped in the tunnel during a snowstorm. You’ll marvel at the ingenuity of the engineering and the curious way the tunnels separate two climate zones: the arid east gorge and the wetter west.
Be sure to stop in the visitor center at the Mark O. Hatfield West trailhead in Hood River for historical information on Highway 30, including original engineering blueprints. This winter the visitor center is open Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Type of hike: Out and Back, or arrange for a shuttle
Length: 3 miles round-trip from the Mark O. Hatfield East trailhead in Mosier, through tunnels, and back. 10 miles roundtrip to complete the entire stretch between Mosier and Hood River.
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Restroom facilities: Yes
Fees: $5 day-use parking pass. You can buy one at either trailhead.
Trail information: Check the park’s web page for alerts and advisories.
Driving directions from Portland: From I-84 take Exit #69/Mosier. Follow the Historic Columbia River Highway as it curves left toward the town of Mosier. At the base of the bridge, turn left and circle under the bridge. Drive about 1 mile to the trailhead parking lot on the left.