Eagle Creek Fire closes down several popular hiking trails in Columbia River Gorge
Flames from the Eagle Creek Fire reflected down on the calm Columbia River early Monday morning, showing how much the blaze had grown since it broke out on Saturday afternoon.
The fire has forced the evacuation of more than 280 homes and businesses in the town of Cascade Locks, which is nearly a quarter mile from the fire lines.
Wildfire danger also prompted forestry officials to close many popular hiking and biking trails in the Columbia River Gorge.
"Today, we were going to ride home, and we just found out now that Highway 30 is closed," said Suhko Vibool Sittiaseri, who had planned to bike from Cascade Locks to Portland.
The Historic Columbia River Highway (a.k.a. Highway 30) is closed off at the Cascade Locks Trailhead, which is also where officials closed a stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail.
Wahclella Falls Trailhead, the Tooth Rock Trailhead and the Eagle Creek Recreation Trailhead are closed as well.
Trails from Ainsworth State Park to Wyath are also closed, including three Gorge campgrounds - the Wyath Campground, the Eagle Creek Campground and the Ainsworth Campground.
As of Monday morning, I-84 was still open, but Exit 41 to the Eagle Creek Fish Hatchery was closed.
“It feels like we've only hiked half of Oregon,” Ben Connelly, a PCT hiker, said. Connelly said he’s been detoured multiple times because of the fires burning across the state. He said the Eagle Creek Fire is especially frustrating. “Perhaps we don't have to be skipping this if it wasn't for a man-made fire you know,” Connelly said.
Officials are still investigating the fire, but Oregon State Police said it might have been caused by fireworks. The frustration Connelly feels is one many are also dealing with, but Connelly said, after hundreds of miles, he won’t let this fire ruin his journey.
“If I have to skip because of a fire, so be it, I’m having the time of my life out here,” Connelly said.
According the posted signs, the trails are closed “until further notice.”
Message from the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office:
"We recognize that the gorge is a beautiful recreation area, and many people may have had plans to visit the area over the holiday weekend. Given the unpredictable nature of the growing Eagle Creek Fire, we are asking visitors to the area to consider making alternative arrangements to visit one of other many visitor destinations in the area."