Sunday, August 15, 2021

Hike: Cape Horn Loop, Washougal, WA

AllTrails map

Getting There

I got a late start so I wanted to pick a hike that was close to home. I've only got one hike in this month (for the WA Trails Association's August Hike-A-Thon). The wildfire smoke has been bad in the area so I've been exercising caution instead of my legs. (ba-dum-clank).

I thought about heading to Archer Mountain but figured I'd check the Cape Horn Trailhead parking lot. I even thought if the main parking lot, I'd drive down Cape Horn Road and park there. (Good thing I didn't because there's is maybe room for one car - no parking in the turnaround).

I was surprised to find the parking lot less than 1/2 full. Bizarre for a weekend at this time of day. Guess folks are still staying away from smokey areas. I parked, geared up and set out.

The Hike

Distance: 6.63 mi
Elevation Gain: 1,401 ft
Moving Time: 2:35:15
Avg Pace: 23:25
Calories: 1,368
Total Time: 2:49:35 

I wanted to see the lower section of the trail which is typically closed from Feb 1 - July 15 as it’s a nesting site for the Peregrine Falcon. According to the Forest Service (, they’ve returned here for 100 years and probably more.

I opted for the clockwise loop. The first 1.4 mi is on Cape Horn Road with views of the river and highway lookout above. The actual trail starts just before a gate and private property. There’s really no parking down here.

My new pack interferes with my wide brimmed hat so I had to take it off. Fortunately it’s shade most of the way. There are some gorgeous viewpoints that are well-marked along the way and I made sure to stop at Cape Horn Falls. Except for the viewpoints there are designations for horses.

The trail is not particularly steep thanks to the long switchbacks. There’s a tunnel under Hwy 14 so no need to worry about crossing a busy road. Once I got to Strunk Road it’s pretty much downhill. I checked out the viewpoints on the northeast side before zigzagging down to the trailhead.