Overlooks cement legacy of the Cape Horn Trail

Gorge partners celebrated dedication Saturday

Three stone overlooks solidify the legacy of the Cape Horn Trail.

On Saturday, members of the Cape Horn Conservancy, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, U.S. Forest Service and Washington Trails Association shared their stories of collaboration while creating the Nancy Russell, Cape Horn Waterfall and Oak View overlooks for hikers to enjoy for generations.

“When I think of this overlook project, it was like a constellation of community members that flowed between groups. They didn’t have an alliance to one particular group, but to a vision that’s greater than themselves,” said WTA Southwest Regional Manager Ryan Ojerio. “Through the collaborative effort of so many different people, it’s like rain drops filling all these tributaries and streams on to the Columbia River that do so much tremendous work. Without those rain drops, we don’t get to where we are.”

Renee Tkach has lived just up the road from the Cape Horn Trail for about 10 years. When she called Friends of the Columbia Gorge for the first time, Executive Director Kevin Gorman picked up the phone and said, “Did you know that you live near a trail that could one day come to life?

“So, I set out to find where that goat trail may have lived,” she said. “It truly was a goat trail at the time, but there was enough there to see the potential for what we have today.”

Tkach is now the project manager for the Gorge Towns to Trails project. She thanked these multiple partnerships for harnessing the potential of this trail and making it come to life.

“One day, could there be a connection of trails between Washougal and Stevenson?” Tkach asked. “Seeing projects like this on the ground and groups like the Cape Horn Conservancy, I believe it can happen.”

Lynn Burditt, area manager of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, spoke candidly about how these partnerships worked together over time under the same vision.

“I just want to express my gratitude for all the work that it’s taken for everyone to have a long term vision and see it to fruition,” she said. “It does take a village. We would not have this trail today were it not for the Cape Horn Conservancy, Friends of the Gorge and the Washington Trails Association. We could not as an agency support this trail without that partnership.

“If you really want it, people will come,” Burditt added. “It’s through your dedication and commitment of time, energy, money and resources that allows us to move these kinds of things forward.”

Cape Horn Conservancy President Teresa Robbins had a few final words for all of the volunteers who dedicate their time to make sure this trail remains safe and sustainable.

“There’s so many volunteers who put in so much time and energy. You know who you are. You know we couldn’t do this without you,” Robbins said. “I want you to stand tall and walk proud. This is your trail.”