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Gillette Lake and Greenleaf Overlook

Southwest Washington

Location

Southwest Washington -- Columbia River Gorge - WA
View map below

Length

8.6 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 650 ft.
Highest Point: 875 ft.

Rating

4.00 out of 5

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
 
 

Hike a short way or a little longer -- either to a lakeside or an overlook. Wherever you choose, you'll get a taste of the Pacific Crest Trail's famous "Green Tunnel"; the dense tree canopy and overarching foliage that make up the iconic trail's character in southwest Washington. 

From the Bonneville Trailhead, complete with privy, set out up the Tamanous Trail, a short spur trail offers access to Table Mountain as well (though Table Mountain is a grueling, very long day hike for those willing to undertake it). 

It's only 0.7 miles uphill to the Tamanous Trail's junction with the Pacific Crest Trail. You'll head left at the junction (right takes you 1.4 miles back to Highway 14 andthe official PCT trailhead). Your route undulates up and down along the landscape. A huge landslide here eons ago shaped the ground you're hiking through; the name 'Bridge of the Gods' refers to an enormous slab that sheared off Table Mountain and fell into the Columbia River, creating a temporary land bridge. Now the land bridge is gone, but the trailhead retains its name, and the landscape is still impressive. 

Hike up and down over small ridges. The trail is lined with small pools on either side. In this section, look out for newts in the fall, who will be breeding in the wet areas just off the trail. 

Soon, break out of the forest and into a clearing, where powerlines soar above you. Despite this evidence of city life, the landscape is still impressive as you switchback up through the rocky land. Approaching a logging road, look for traffic (this is still a working forest after all),, then cross the road and gaze down on Gillette Lake just below. It's a sweet little lake, an arresting shade of greenish blue with a shoreline lined with flowers. 

Drop down to the lake, and if this is your destination, look for a campsite. Otherwise, continue around the top of the lake, staying straight on the main trail and paralleling the lakeshore before crossing a sturdy footbridge over a picturesque creek. 

Past the creek, the trail climbs again and crosses another logging road a quarter mile from the lake. Though the road is exposed, the trail ducks back into dark forest as you climb on the PCT, and then pass a small pond, home to the endangered Western pond turtle. Leave them be (there's nowhere to sit on the shoreline anyway) and continue up and over a knoll. From here, the trail plunges down to Greenleaf Creek. 

A big bridge awaits you here, and, unless you're really into uphill gains, this is good turnaround point. Greenleaf Overlook is only another half-mile away, but the trees have grown up and the views from the overlook are relatively unremarkable; I walked right by it when I visited the first time.

But if you want to bag it, head uphill. About 0.75 miles from the bridge, look for an outcropping of large granite boulders covered in yellowish moss. It's the last viewpoint before the trail ducks back into forest and continues climbing to Table Mountain. 

 

Gillette Lake and Greenleaf Overlook

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 45.6505, -121.9331 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Southwest Washington -- Columbia River Gorge - WA

Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) (#2000), Tamanous Trail (#27)

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: Columbia River Gorge. Craig Romano. Mountaineers Books. 2011.

Green Trails Bonneville Dam No. 429

Getting There

From Vancouver, drive 40 miles east on Highway 14 to the Bonneville trailhead, located on the left (elev. 100 ft). Turn into the trailhead and find parking; the Tamanous Trail takes off uphill at the east end of the parking area, marked by a sign that says, "Table Mtn.". A privy is also available here.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
 

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Gillette Lake and Greenleaf Overlook

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