25 Feb Munra Point Hike: Walking on the Edge
Munra Point is one of the best hikes in the gorge because of its exhilerating rock scrambles, precarious views of the gorge, and ability to get you away from the tourist traps below. Despite its benefits, there are some risks of rock fall and poison oak along the obscure approach to the top. All of which are definitely well worth the reward.The only way to get to this awesome lookout is on the unmaintained and often overgrown Munra Point trail. There are two different ways to get to the base of this trail. These include the Wahclella Falls or John B. Yeon Trailhead. The latter is far more scenic and the only way worth taking and one of my favorite hikes in the gorge.
From the John B. Yeon trailhead (check out the map) the hike is a 5.2 mile round trip with about 2200 feet of elevation change. My first time hiking this route was in May at the peak of wildflower season and unfortunately spring rains (worth it).
After driving out to the trailhead my friend and I left the parking lot and followed the signs to Elowah Falls. The falls are epic after heavy rains, but always comparable in grandeur to other more well known waterfalls that are usually far more crowded (Multnomah Falls).
Continuing across the small bridge in front of the falls we eventually found ourselves adjacent to the freeway on a well maintained trail, which seemed more like a bike path than anything. This change marks the beginning of Gorge Trail #400 and the most boring bit of the journey and the time to find a good hiking staff, you will need it on the steep ascent ahead. Once we came to Moffett Creek, we made the mistake of missing our next turn and going under the Freeway to the gorge side and walking about a mile in the wrong direction. Don’t make the same mistake, make sure you stay on the south side of I84 following a steep trail down to a small bridge over the creek. We eventually realized this and backtracked under the freeway before following the trail down, over, and up the other side of the creek until we were parallel with the freeway again. The grass was nearly overgrown here and we kept an eye out for the way to Munra Point on the right. Soon, shooting off the main trail, was a small hole in the grass, we took it and began following the trail up into the woods.
Climbing the slick rocks to the top of the point was no easy task as the clouds rolled in, but we made it. It is by far the best spot for lunch in the gorge with views toward the mouth of the gorge, down at cascade locks, and back east toward The Dalles. Continuing on the trail that skirts the ridge you get a real perspective of the steepness of the trail and enjoy a landscape that resembles the a subalpine zone in the summer. Small wild flowers were blooming and the clouds were moving in and out making it seem like we were in the sky. Soon enough though, it was time to get back down the slick trail, luckily without any falls.
Munra Point is a hike that is well worth the sketchy factor, it lacks the tourist trap feeling that other hikes like Angels Rest have and rewards you with way better views. It feels like you are on top of the entire gorge, up there on a small stoney precipice with nothing, but clouds around you.
Once on the approach to Munra Point, we quickly began to hit switchbacks and steep climbing. The passing clouds threatened to make the muddy trail even more slick. The trail got steeper and rockier with sheer drop offs to one side. Finally we come to the rock scramble that topped them all, forcing us to use to crawl. Then there it was, up a steep rocky path with sheer drop offs on either side, Munra Point.