By Rick Roach
The Wyeth to Lindsey Creek segment of the Historic Columbia River Highway and State Trail has been completed and was officially opened after a ribbon cutting ceremony on August 3, 2019. This three-mile segment, located between Cascade Locks and Hood River Oregon, is an important addition to a master plan to complete a 73-mile continuous route through the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Of the 73-mile route, 51 miles will be navigable by car, bicycle or on foot, while the other 22 miles are inaccessible to automobiles. The route will connect Troutdale to The Dalles alongside I-84.
The Wyeth to Lindsey Creek segment is one of the segments in the route that is available only to hikers, bikers and rollers. It is a beautifully paved path, wide enough for lots of traffic, meandering through the forest and alongside the rockface of the nearby mountainside. A watering station at the Wyeth trailhead along with a bike fix-it station, and bathroom provide conveniences that make the journey enjoyable and safe.
The trail is an especially important piece of the route because it created a dedicated path around Shellrock Mountain which has the narrowest shoulder on I-84 and was quite dangerous for cyclists.
Retired Oregon State Parks Manager, Kevin Price, emceed the ribbon cutting and dedication of the new trail and spoke of the collaboration required by various agencies including Oregon State Parks and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).
Throughout the ceremony the theme embraced by the speakers was collaboration and cooperation. Price said there were times when they had to invent new ways to get things done because the agencies had no previous history of working together on such a complex project.
Jefferson Greene of the Warm Springs Tribe spoke of the cultural significance of the area and how important it is for everyone to recognize the natural beauty and sustenance of the landscape that has been here for thousands of years.
Rian Windsheimer, ODOT Region 1 Manager, expressed thanks to ten different agencies and several key individuals while talking about the strong federal, state and local partnerships necessary for building the highway and trail system.
Oregon State Parks Deputy Director, MG Devereux, stated the “the experience of creating a trail is also a lesson in our need for cooperation” and “just as no trail is used by just one person, no trail is created by one organization”.
Lynn Orr, Executive Director of The History Museum in Hood River, gave a brief overview of the history of the Wyeth area, mentioning the important work done by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the conscientious objectors who lived in a Civilian Public Service camp seven miles east of Wyeth. CCC work included; forestry, flood control, prevention of soil erosion and fighting forest fires as well as building many park structures, some of which are still in use today, from the 1933 until 1942 while the conscientious objectors worked in the areas of soil conservation, forestry, firefighting, agriculture, social services and mental and public health from 1941 to 1947.
Caroline Lipps, owner of Thunder Island Brewing Co., shared her thoughts on how the trail is a great community asset and economic driver to bring people from Portland and other cities in the Pacific Northwest to take advantage of the many tourist activities in the Gorge.
It is quite exciting to think that there are only 5 more miles of development necessary to complete the entire 73-mile route. The remaining area is between Viento State Park and Ruthton Park and the work will not be easy. Funding is still needed for a challenging 1.6-mile section which includes Ruthton Point, just west of the city of Hood River but given time and the continued collaborative tenacity of the agencies and individuals involved I have no doubt that the work will be completed.