Hike to wildflowers in the Columbia Gorge

grass widows at Rowena Plateau

It is officially the launch of wildflower season! As of the day after the Spring Equinox, Portland’s wildflowers began bursting into lushness. We saw trilliums on the Wildwood Trail March 21, and this weekend the grass widows began to spread in the eastern Gorge. On our writer’s hike March 27, we saw a profusion of new flowers. Book our hiking tours any time this spring and we’ll take you out to see the beauty — or request a special custom tour by calling us at 503-889-6410 and we can find even more beauty. Come now: this is the time!

Columbia desert parsley with a backdrop of Garry oak at Rowena Crest

Visiting for the 2019 Yarn Crawl? Let us help!

Portland’s knitters are a special breed. I’ve attended readings for knitting writers where more than a hundred fans patiently waited in line (knitting of course) for signatures. The amazing Sock Summit filled the Convention Center, twice. I’ve been on knitting scavenger hunts and knit-in-public days.

This year, once again, thousands of knitters will run around town visiting yarn shops all over for four days in March.

And with the 2019 Yarn Crawl Tour we’re here to bring you to it. In two days, you will have the chance to get stamps from 10 yarn stores, through Portland’s five quadrants and two far-flung suburbs.

We’ll make sure you don’t miss any shops; and most importantly make sure you get to see the city and surrounding area with a tour guide’s perspective. We have two Mercedes Sprinter vans and one leather-upholstered minivan ready to tote you, your friends, and your beautiful yarn around town.

Book the March 7-8 two-day tour or the March 9-10 two-day tour, at only $175.

Read more, and book our one-day tour for just the SW and outside-of-Portland shops, only $100!

Lover’s tour: Open yourself to love, Portland-style

We write romance in tea and gardens | A tour for lovers of all kinds
| 4-6 hours | Thursday 14 February or Friday 15 February | 10 a.m. $55

We mean to celebrate love the way we always do: by opening ourselves to it. In 2019, the early part of February, with its new moon in Aquarius, should help us with new relationships; but once the day of lovers arrives on February 14 we see Mars transiting Taurus. This roots us into traditionalism and into the earth. As the first flowers of spring begin to bloom we should connect with the dirt from which they emerge.

Our tour will take you (and, if you like, your partner) gently toward the coming full moon. Like spring, we wish to emerge full into our creativity and voice come the Virgo moon on the 19th; but we need support. We begin in the late morning with a rose latte to wake us up and start the gentle opening of the spirit, and a poem to go along with it. We’ll stock our bag with healthy snacks and drive to a garden filled with some of Portland’s oldest trees — nothing says love like getting cheek-to-cheek with a century old tree. Here we’ll ground ourselves with some tree magic and a little reminder of how to stay rooted when we’re opening ourselves, with a breathing exercise.

What’s next? Water, of course! A bit of ritual cleansing (don’t worry, you won’t need your swimsuits). Next, we’re off to our favorite psychic tea room for a tea meant to release ourselves to the possibilities of intimacy, and if you choose, have your Tarot cards read.

We’ll finish with a drive to the top of the (Portland) world: we’ll go up to a viewpoint of the whole city — choice of viewpoint weather dependent of course. There is no place to make the message that you are open to love than an open scene of the world as we know it before you! Give love to all before you, hug the world, shout out your intentions for all to hear!

Our tour will come with an optional package of love-supportive tinctures and treats from a favorite herbalist. Book here!

Local-focused Get Out! series

Book the February 18 family hike or the next full moon hike

Get out!

Our full moon hiking series was meant as an alternative to more expensive options run by bigger companies. But more came of it: we discovered how much we enjoyed getting locals into places they don’t go very often on their own.

We’re starting a robust new series of tours focused on what we love doing most, with the expectation we’ll be taking wonderful locals out to explore their region more deeply. (Check back to this page for more as we develop them!)

We welcome tourists too; but these are meant as an addition to your rich experience of this area, not a first introduction.

For most of our tours we will pick up at our shop at 811 SE Main Street, and pick up outer eastsiders in the center of downtown Troutdale, near the Troutdale General Store. Pickup at your home is possible, especially if you live on the east side or have a big group booking together.

This week we have three things planned: a snowy adventure for Wednesday, January 30; an urban winery and farm-to-table tour Friday, February 1; and a Instagram-worthy waterfall hike Saturday, February 2.

We’re really excited to begin a series of hikes on weekdays when local schools are out of session, beginning with the February 18 family hike. We’ll leave inner SE Portland at 9 a.m. $50 per person suggested price; contact Sarah to book pay-what-you-will.

Book here for Feb 18 full moon; book here for Feb 19 full moon. $35, compared to our typical hiking tour cost of $105.

First Day of the Year Hike

Book a First Day Hike!

Last year one of our favorite fellow tour guides invited us on a First Day Hike — a tradition that is not new, but hadn’t been in our parlance. It didn’t take long to convince us that we’d do it every year in the future (ice cream and coffee for pre-hike breakfast sealed the deal).

This year, we want to fill our Sprinter vans with you lovely people. We’re doing a steep discount from our typical hiking tour price, because we want to set the intention that 2019 will be about abundance, and we will value community over all else. Yes, there will be ice cream and coffee. Yes, you have to get up early.

The hike itself will be 4-6 miles; longer than the (awesome) state parks programs, and with some elevation gain, 1,200-1,800 feet. We will leave promptly at 8:30 a.m. from our shop at 811 SE Main Street.

Book here. $35, compared to our typical hiking tour cost of $125.

Give the experience

Buy a gift card, see a trillium!
Give Now!

There’s no better gift than an experience — long-term studies show that the maximum happiness comes from shared experiences, far better than buying things. And when you buy a Cordilleran Tours gift card, you’re also giving what one customer called “pure magic” and another customer described as “deep knowledge and cultural connection” — our guides “bring the magic of our ancestors.” Still another guest exclaimed how he was “bathing in the forest” as he rode his bike down the Historic Columbia River Highway, before we’d even told him how healthful that practice is. Just breathing while you’re walking in the forest has been shown to permanently increase your body’s ability to resist stress and fight cancer.

Have we convinced you yet? How about 25% off? Use the code “solstice” and give your loved ones the gift of a tour at rates better than wholesale.

Food cart craze!

sarah gilbert food cart bike tour in Portland Oregon We’re so happy to introduce our Food Carts by Bike tour! It’s been a really long time coming — Sarah wrote the story of food carts many years ago while guiding at another bike tour company, and even before that a whole decade ago when the food cart craze began, writing about food, farms and food culture for local and national blogs. The tour gets its transformation now as Portland’s food cart pods grow and change with the economy and the food culture of Portland — an ever-evolving culture, community and economy.

This perfect 8- to 12-mile bike tour will guide you on a culinary experience through some of our favorites, sampling everything from farm-to-table delights to snacks appropriate to late-night cravings. We’ll meet you in the thriving SE industrial district, at our location near the real deal: the very first food cart pod. Here you’ll be fitted for a bike and helmet, and we’ll head on a neighborhood ride to three of our favorite food cart pods, as we unfold the fascinating (and only told by us!) tale of how Portland came to be the epicenter of the food cart craze. Sample food at each pod, with an option for beer or dessert, and some stops that tell a bit more to the food cart story. The tour starts at 10 a.m. and runs daily starting July 25!

Book Now!


A tour with our favorite things (all at once)

I have a new favorite tour: our Hiking and Biking Columbia Gorge Hidden Waterfalls tour. No really. It’s my favorite!

All we tour guides know the question well: “what is your favorite tour?” — we know it because we are constantly seeking the answer to that question. THIS might be my favorite tour (whichever it is I am on today), but some of us do have our favorites: Jeri’s favorite is the coast tour; Carrie’s favorite is the Mt. Hood loop tour (unless it’s the coast tour). But maybe our favorite this week is different from the rest of the year; this past week, early May, I’d rather do nothing so much as a wine tour, rich with these amazing fields of crimson clover, which peak only for several days each year in which hillsides are covered with startling shocks of giant red blossoms before they fade to pink-brown and the summer, then, is underway.

If you know me at all, you know I am crazy about the Columbia River Gorge. The vistas from the western viewpoints (Chanticleer Point and Crown Point most especially) are so much a part of my heart that I conduct conversations with the view in my #ladygorge series on Instagram. When I started this company, I wanted to do two things more than any other: wine tours in which we could talk more intimately about how to taste wine, and tours of the Gorge with longer, slower-paced hikes and better bike rides.

Edwin and I rode the Gorge all winter and early spring. I’d take him on my gorge driving tours and let him ride the parts we were just seeing from the window of a Sprinter van. Whenever we had a day off together we’d hike anywhere we could, or hike separately, me with a wonderful group of friends and their children and little dogs, him with his loyal friends. Together we made this thing that is absolutely, completely, once and for all, my favorite tour of the Columbia River Gorge.

Here’s what I love so much about it: it’s both placid and easy, and a great deal of exercise; it’s absolutely chockfull of stunning vistas and fast rides but it’s slow-paced too. We do the bulk of our bike riding on the most amazing, sweet downhill ride in the universe: cool and shaded, absolutely rich with wildflowers and moss, but open to the sun (when it’s shining) so it can dapple through the trees. For the first nearly four miles (7k) of bike ride you get mostly downhill, a downhill ride you can take easy. “This is the best bike ride I’ve ever done!” exclaimed one member of my first tour group as we rode through the first mile and a half. I’ve been on substantially more bike rides than the average tour guest: and I thought so, too.

Once you complete that first long downhill ride, it’s uphill for you — but on foot, and at your own pace, a 2.5-mile (4k) loop meandering up and back down Latourell Creek, to get a truly intimate connection to its two beautiful waterfalls (we call this our church; to some local tribes, this waterfall was a goddess, daughter of the Beaver family wedded to Coyote and turned into a waterfall when she tried to run away). It’s not just water and rock you’ll see, but wildflowers of all colors and fragrances and berries in the late summer; huge redcedars and hemlocks and big leaf maples covered in mosses and lichens; birds everywhere.

Return from that hike and I’ll be waiting for you (I get to ride up the hill — my very favorite thing). You’ll bike a few more miles, this time with some gentle uphills, but that’s all I’ll make you do; you just climbed up over 800 feet in elevation.

This is all there is: sweet comfortable mostly downhill bike rides, lovely but not overly intense 2.5-mile hikes. If you have time and energy, we’ll throw in a bonus waterfall at the end. If you don’t, we’ll swing by another big waterfall near the road for a gander. It’s everything altogether right, in all the right ways.

We’ve done this hundreds upon hundreds of times, and finally, we can say: this is my favorite!

Book Now!

Get into the Gorge for spring break!

Happy Ostara! Today is the spring equinox, and we are so excited to celebrate spring. No matter our age, we still love spring break. And being in the tourism industry, it’s like a never-ending delight from the beginning of March, when schools in Arizona start their spring breaks, until mid-April.

We couldn’t help ourselves — we had to get out into the Gorge more often. It’s so hard right now! Trail closures still outnumber trails that are opened. The wildfires that so badly affected the Oregon side of the Gorge over Labor Day weekend have trails closed throughout the Gorge with (our Forest Service contacts report) may not open until mid-summer.

As of March 24, we’re launching a much-needed first for the Gorge: a trailhead connection that functions somewhere halfway in between a shuttle and a tour. Our driver/guides are avid hikers themselves, and will provide background on the area as well as updates on trail conditions. We’ll take you out to trailheads so you can avoid the terrible parking conditions we’ve been experiencing on weekends already this year, and give you an opportunity to reach the trailhead if you don’t have access to a car.

Our initial service will include shuttles to Latourell Falls and trailheads at Beacon Rock and Hamilton Mountain. There is no more fitting way to celebrate the presence of spring than to hike the waterfall-laden trails, delighting in the new excitement of trilliums, bleeding hearts, the shoots of salmonberry, thimbleberry, huckleberry and devil’s club. The moss is heavy on the branches of Douglas-fir and Western redcedar and the ancient basalt flows are calling you to celebrate the rites of spring with these volcanic rocks as altar. Answer, with Cordilleran Tours.