Bridal Veil Falls State Park
Another legacy from the past can be experienced at the 1926-era Bridal Veil Lodge across from Bridal Veil Falls State Park. This establishment is the only lodging from the heyday of the Columbia River Highway still operating (at least until the Columbia Gorge Hotel in Hood River reopens).
Across from Bridal Veil Lodge is the waterfall for which the state park is named, reached by a trailhead at the east end of the parking lot. A short 0.7-mile round-trip hike takes you to the observation platform at the base of this voluminous gushing bi-level cascade.
Bridal Veil Falls State Park is also the western trailhead for the 33.5-mile Gorge Trail 400. Between here and Wyeth, this largely level trail takes in the Gorge’s highest waterfalls as well as newly opened sections of the old Columbia River Highway that are closed to vehicular traffic.
In addition to tree-shaded picnic tables and restrooms open all year, the park features the largest camas patch in the Columbia River Gorge. Blue-flowering camas and wapato were once the leading food staples for local Native Americans. The camas bulb looks like an onion and tastes very sweet after it is slowly baked.
Leave the camas alone, out of respect for a traditional food source as well as for your own safety—camas with white flowers are poisonous, a fact that is not always established when the bulb is being harvested.
If you’re here in April, look for patches of camas along the short Overlook Trail to the Pillars of Hercules, a pair of giant basalt monoliths with I-84 and the Columbia River in the background. These formations are also called Spilyai’s children, after the Native American coyote demigod.
According to legend, Spilyai transformed his wife into Latourell Falls and his children into these volcanic formations to keep them from leaving him. Overlook Trail is about 20 yards west of the Bridal Veil Falls trailhead.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel