Lyle Cherry Orchard Loop

Distance 4.7 mi
Time 2.5 hrs
Elevation Gain 1178 ft
Season Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Hike Info Hiker Info

The Lyle Cherry Orchard Loop is a popular hiking route on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge, just east of the town of Lyle. It’s a mostly moderate loop route with a few steep and narrow sections, and it’s hikeable year-round–though you’ll definitely have a good amount of mud in the wet months. You can get exceptional views of the Gorge all year round, and in the spring the region puts on a reliable wildflower show–especially in mid to late March and early May. You’ve also got a good shot at some wildlife viewing here, especially if you can make it to the trail during the week when you’re likely to have a bit more peace and quiet.

From the parking area, look for a thin metal trail post to mark the trailhead. It can be a little tough to spot and doesn’t provide a ton of information beyond the fact that this is a hiker-only route, but there is more info just a little ways onto the trail. You’ll very quickly enter into the land owned by the Friends of the Columbia Gorge Land Trust. Friends’ Founder Nancy Russell purchased most of the land on this former cherry orchard site and her estate bequeathed it to the Land Trust after her death in 2008. Volunteers built and continue to maintain and improve the trail network here, and they also removed several old structures and 1700 feet of fencing from the old orchard property.

You’ll encounter a lovely rustic trail sign as well as a very modern wayfinding sign installed in Spring 2024 that will give you a terrific overview of the hike. There are also some newly-installed interpretive plaques along the route of the Discovery Loop with great multimedia elements (I have Verizon and had reception on most of the route, but you can also just open the QR code on your phone and save the browser URL for later).

Use the nearby boot-brush to clean off your shoes (and make sure no invasive species make it into the preserve!), then start your climb up.

This hike does have a few sections of moderately steep incline, but thankfully you do tend to get nice breaks between the climbs. You’ll kick off the hike into Lyle Orchard with a fairly steep one, though, so just prep yourself for that. You’ll also cross a number of rocky areas, which can be slippery if it’s rained recently or is raining while you’re hiking. Oh and also, while you’re looking at and admiring the wildflowers, definitely keep an eye out for poison oak–because there is a LOT of it.

not poison oak

It’s six switchbacks and about 0.8 mile before you’ll crest a hill that opens up into a wide and beautiful meadow. In late spring, lupines and balsamroots provide intense splashes of blue/purple and yellow against the meadow grasses. You’ll also spot wallflowers, cornflowers, shooting stars, and camas all throughout this hike depending on what time of year you’re visiting.

Be on the lookout for more of those newly-installed interpretive signposts along the way, too!

At 0.8 mile, you hit a trail junction that will be the end of your lollipop loop route here today. Keep to the right to stay on the Lyle Cherry Orchard Trail and follow it as it makes a steep climb toward the southeast.

On these climbing sections, you’ll get to get pretty up close and personal with a lot of the wildflower blooms. It should go without saying but at this point I feel like I’m obligated to remind you to leave the flowers alone–just enjoy looking at them, take your pictures, and move on. You know the drill.

Oh, don’t forget to check out the views of the Columbia River Gorge while you’re there, either!

Not bad, right?

At 1.4 miles, you’ll start hiking through a section of dense oak trees. Many of these were burned in a 2021 fire, but they seem to be bouncing back quite nicely.

You’ll also hit a trail junction here with the Cherry Loop, a relatively new route that heads further east to the site of the actual Lyle Cherry Orchard. The wayfinding sign here can be a little confusing, but if you want to stay on the Discovery Loop, keep to the left to head north.

Here, the trail mostly levels out and takes a fun meandering route through more of that oak forest. If you hike quietly, you’ve got a good shot at encountering some wildlife along the way–like browsing deer.

The oak forest is a really fun and interesting landscape to hike through, and the trail makes lots of twists and turns. In fact, this entire route really has a nice variety of landscapes, from the forests to the meadows to the steep slopes of the Gorge and this interesting oak forest. It really feels like you’re hiking four or five different trails, and it makes the trek feel a lot faster than it actually is.

You’ll start to make your descent just past the 2.5 mile mark. You’ll pass through some truly stunning slopes with views of the Gorge and the nearby town of Lyle (and a few more wildflower patches for good measure, too).

You’ll close the loop just past the 3.6 mile mark. Feel free to explore some of the spur trails nearby for more views west toward Lyle, or descend back to the trailhead the way you came up.

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Accommodations near Lyle Cherry Orchard Loop

Trail Conditions

Very good. This is a well-traveled route that has had some upgrades and maintenance as of 2024.

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How to Get There

From I-84, cross the Hood River Bridge (toll required both directions) and head east on WA-14 through Bingen. In about 12.2 miles from the Bridge, the trailhead will be in a small dirt turnoff on the north side of the Lewis and Clark Highway. No passes required.

Driving Directions

Use the ModernHiker mobile app to download this map and complete trail description for offline access.

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