Once upon a time, Ice Age floods defined the Columbia River Gorge region. Flash forward a few million years, and you have one of the most beautifully verdant wildernesses in the United States.
A canyon that reaches depths of 4,000 feet and is more than 80 miles long, the gorge forms a natural boundary between Oregon to the south and Washington to the north. Due to the varied elevation, this massive chasm is home to a range of ecosystems, from temperate rain forests to grasslands to dry woodlands.
The natural diversity of the Gorge region makes it a particularly unique place to explore on foot. And the outdoorsy ethos that defines the land and its locals will certainly inspire some epic runs, says Joanie Thomson, marketing director for Breakaway Promotions and organizer of the Columbia Gorge Marathon. “With almost 100 waterfalls between Portland and Hood River, there is no shortage of beautiful trails.”
Whether you’re just crossing the border or planning to stay for a while, be sure to get out and enjoy the switchbacks, single-track, paved paths, lung-busting ascents and breathtaking surroundings.