UPDATE: Many trails on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge are closed because of damage from the 2017 Eagle Creek fire. As of June 2018, the John B Yeon Trailhead and surrounding area is still closed. Check the list of CLOSED recreation areas before you plan for a hike.
Fifteen years in the Portland area and it was only this past year that Munra Point made it onto my radar. All thanks to an Instagram photo showing a lone hiker, walking along a narrow ridge, as a grey, swirling skyscape performed in the background. How could I resist?
Given its proximity to Portland, it's relative short length, the unmaintained trail, and its growing popularity, I considered not posting this hike at all. There is also the fact that in wet conditions, the chimney and exposed ridges can be very dangerous.
However, the trail up the ridge has truly breathtaking views, with Elowah Falls having a magical quality all its own. Further, the trail is one of the best looking unmaintained trails I have ever seen and if people hike it responsibly, I see no reason why it cannot be enjoyed safely.
GUIDEBOOKS & MAPS
- Munra Point from Yeon Trailhead — Oregon Hikers
- Munra Point Out and Back – map of route on MapMyHike.com
Parking: No permit needed.
Year round. The summit ridges are steep and there is a short, slightly technical section requiring hands, so this trail is NOT recommended in wet or winter conditions.
Begin at John B Yeon Trailhead (Google Map).
Technically, you have two options here. You can immediately head east from the parking lot and take the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail 1.5 miles until just before the Moffet Creek bridge, where it connects with Columbia Gorge Trail #400. However, this paved trail is meant for biking and runs along or very near Highway 84 and is absolute rubbish for hiking. Don't go this way. You deserve better.
Instead, head towards the sign on the west end of the parking lot and head up. You'll immediately see a rather large water cistern and then a sharp left. Continue going and you will quickly reach a trail junction where Nesmith Point Trail #448 and Gorge Trail #400 meet. Continue going straight and east along Gorge Trail #400.
In half a mile you will reach the switchbacks that take you down to the incredibly stunning Elowah Falls. In another 0.65 miles, Gorge Trail #400 connects again with the bike path and you follow it for ~0.15 miles before you once again enter the woods on Gorge Trail #400.
You stay on Gorge Trail #400 for another 0.7 miles until it again joins the bike path. Follow the bike path for a few minutes, around a bend, and you will see Gorge Trail #400 head off the bike path and downhill into a gully. If you reach the paved bridge on the bike path, you have gone too far.
Next, head down into the gully of Moffett Creek on Gorge Trail #400 and cross a bridge before heading right back up. A few hundred meters past the bridge, you will reach the turn off for the unmaintained Munra Point trail. A "Trail Not Maintained" sign will be visible but it is actually a rather handsome trail, all things considered.
Follow the trail up for approximately 0.8 miles and please be very careful about following the trail and not cutting switchbacks. Since this is an unmaintained trail with growing popularity, it is in all of our interests to prevent erosion. As the Rock of Ages trail has shown us in 2016, there are real consequences to years of erosion.
After 0.8 miles and immediately after two short switchbacks, you will reach an open slope with wide views of the Columbia Gorge. Beyond this spot is the slightly technical chimney climb, so it is a fine place to stop and turn around if conditions are not looking promising.
In good conditions, the chimney climb is challenging but safe for a careful person. In wet or icy conditions, it is steep and technical enough to be dangerous, especially when descending. Same for the ridges above it. When I was here in April 2016, a rope with knots had been put in to assist with climbing up and down. Helpful, but I would not depend on it being there, nor would I ever put my full weight on it.
Once above the chimney, you have to scramble up another rocky slope until you are back on what feels like a trail. It is just a short distance until you can continue up to the pyramid summit where all three ridges meet. Panoramic views all around. On a clear day, you might see Mt. Adams peeking over the far side of the Gorge
For a bit more fun, you can explore down the south ridge for half a mile or so and get a nice view of Munra Point from a distance. The NNE ridge off the sumit is your best bet for stellar photos of friends and views. Once you are done admiring the view, head back the way you came.