'Fall Hike the Gorge Weekend' draws hikers back to open trails - KPTV - FOX 12

'Fall Hike the Gorge Weekend' draws hikers back to open trails

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COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE, OR (KPTV) -

Tourism season in the Columbia River Gorge is coming to an end, but hikers were in full force Saturday and soaking up the last days of sunshine before it’s gone for the winter.

Many were also seeing what was left after the devastating Eagle Creek Fire.

While many popular trails are still closed, business owners want to make sure people know they are open.

The ‘Fall Hike the Gorge Weekend’ kicked off this weekend, with some businesses in Stevenson offering a discount to hikers.

People in the Gorge say this year the event is much more meaningful.

“It’s good to be out here now and see that it’s still standing,” said Dani Replogle, who was hiking in the Gorge for the first time since the Eagle Creek Fire.

The Columbia River Gorge lost much of its color in the fire. Hikers say they are still hopeful for its beauty to return.

“Change is inevitable and I think that’s what happens in nature. We didn’t want this fire to happen, but there’s some turnover and it’s fine,” said Logan Kleier, who was hiking Dog Mountain Saturday.

Stephen Baker, a spokesman for the Forest Service, says there are still significant safety concerns on many popular trails in Oregon. He says there are falling rocks and dead, unstable trees that would be dangerous to people if they opened trails.

“You can see some burn sections and trees that are in darker shades than normal, but I think that it’s still really beautiful and it’s a lot better than I anticipated that it was gonna look. It’s a good way to spend a day out here,” said Replogle.

Red Bluff restaurant owner Tina Van Pelt says traffic through town increased during the I-84 closure, but sales didn’t. 

“Through town was slow because people were obviously stopping to they to see what was going on across the river,” she said.

Van Pelt says these last few weeks of tourism season are crucial for her business, and others.

“Try to get more people to come back out this way that maybe think there’s nothing left out here in the Gorge anymore,” said Van Pelt.

Forest service officials say most hikes in Oregon between Hood River and Troutdale are still closed, but all of the trails on the Washington side are open.

For a full list of trails that are open right now, visit: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r6/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD559604

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