The concept of the Chinook Trail originated in 1986 between two lifelong hiking companions, Don Cannard and Ed Robertson, who were retired educators and elementary school principals in the Vancouver School district. Standing on the summit of Silver Star, a 4400 foot peak noted for its glorious wildflower displays, they dreamed trail going through the Columbia River Gorge. Originally, the trail was only going to go through Washington, but then the Forest Service suggested a bi-state loop going through Oregon and Washington. Others agreed enthusiastically, and in 1988, the Chinook Trail Association was born.
The original concept developed into that of a 300 rim top loop trail which would encircle the Columbia River Gorge. An additional 200 miles would be designated connector trails which would junction with existing trails such as the Pacific Crest Trail and communities in the Columbia River Gorge area. The first section of new trail, the Squaw Butte connector which connects Silver Star to Washington's Larch Mountain, was begun on National Trails Day in 1993 and completed a year later.
When you were a kid, did you ever play the game of connecting dots to discover the "secret" picture after you had completed it? Well, that's just about what Chinook Trail has been doing the past 10 years- connecting segments of trail, building the missing pieces so that one day we will acheive our secret picture, a unique rim-top trail encircling the Columbia River. This trail will provide challenges and respite from urban living that will, no doubt, become more and more necessary as population grows here in the Northwest.
There are no finer wildflower experiences than one can find atop Silver Star, Rowena Plateau, or a host of other spots along the Chinook Trail route. There are places where the view is so grand, you wonder why anyone would ever feel the need to travel elsewhere to see beautiful vistas.
But for the trail to become a reality, we know that we must have a partnership with the agencies whose land we traverse, and also with you, our supporters. We are looking forward to the future completion of this trail and your continued support in the Chinook Trail Association.