Columbia Gorge trails might be closed until spring

Hiking trails affected by an Oregon wildfire in the Columbia River Gorge might be closed for months, authorities have said.

Landslide risk, potential for falling trees, root snags and severe erosion as the winter rains start will have repair crews busy until spring, Dawn Stender, a trail crew supervisor for the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area said.

The fire in the Columbia River Gorge has displaced hundreds of residents, shut down Interstate 84 and burned 52 square miles since it started over the Labor Day weekend in one of Oregon’s most treasured natural places. Eastbound lanes of I-84 will remain closed another week and officials on Sunday expanded the trail closures to all recreation areas.

The wildfire damaged the popular Angel’s Rest trail, leaving the steep, switchback path looking like a moonscape pierced with blackened tree trunks. Fire also burned a pedestrian tunnel near Oneonta Gorge.

It’s too early to fully assess the damage elsewhere, but many other popular hikes use trails that were in the middle of the blaze, including Eagle Creek, Wahclella Falls, Munra Point, Larch Mountain, Oneonta Gorge and Horsetail Falls.

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