“A scenic alternate to Wahkeena Trail's upper reaches.”
— Brendan Ross
Past the waterfalls on Wahkeena Trail, Vista Point tends to be much less crowded than the paths closer to the Columbia River Highway.
Connecting to the superb Wahkeena Trail on either end, Vista Point Trail trades off a visit to Wahkeena Spring for an impressive elevated view of the Columbia River Gorge.
The eastern end of the trail starts on the high, flat section of Wahkeena, about a hundred feet west of the beginning switchback for Devil's Rest Trail. Watch for one of the area's typical wooden signposts marking the start. Vista Point is a pleasant, narrow, dirt doubletrack, with an ample covering of pine needles underfoot. The soft surface, along with only the occasional root or rock to dodge, make this a welcome change from some of the jagged stretches runners climb to get here.
Most of the area's plant life can be seen along the way, though runners' views of the Columbia will depend heavily on the time of year and leaf growth. After heavier rains, some debris can be found scattered across the trail. Westbound, it's a quick descent. For those moving in the opposite direction, the climb has some tough moments but is manageable. This is one of the area's easier routes.
At Vista Point's northernmost tip, where the ascent levels out around a half mile in, watch for a short viewpoint spur to the right. This is the easiest spot to catch a view of the Columbia, especially in the warmer months. A few step-like features follow as the trail makes a mostly flat finish back to Wahkeena. There's a narrow water crossing at the very end. Step carefully, as there is no bridge and the rocks can be very wet and slippery.
Afterwards, runners will find themselves back on the Wahkeena Trail, next to scenic Fairy Falls. Eagle-eyed visitors might catch the wooden sign marking the trail's endpoint here, deceptively embedded in a tree trunk.