One of the things we most wanted to do while visiting Cove Palisades State Park in Oregon was to hike the Tam-a-lau Trail. This 6 to 7 mile trail starts in the Palisades Campground where we stayed and climbs the 600 plus feet up and out of the canyon leaving Billy Chinook Lake behind.
The day we chose to hike the trail was a perfect day as temperatures were in the low eighties and there was a nice gentle breeze. The weekenders’ boats were dotting the lake and the squeals of the kids could be heard everywhere… everywhere that is except on the Tam-a-lau Trail.
The trail was in pretty good shape as there were occasional timbers that acted as steps in the steeper parts of the trail where there was a lot of loose rock. The trail climbed relentlessly as we were lifted out of the canyon and closer to its rim above. Rock wrens zipped from the top of one rock to another as if warning us of the perils of the canyon. The trail had a few spots that had loose gravel and narrowed while perched on the edge of a steep drop off. But soon the trail flattened and the rock wrens gave way to the violet green swallows darting through the canyon drafts.
The view from above of the snow capped peaks was impressive but none more than the photogenic Mount Jefferson. The trail continued along the canyon edge with wonderful views of the lake below. The highlight of trail was at the mid point where we sat and enjoyed a lunch while gazing from atop the canyon down below at the spectacular view of the “island” as it is called. This piece of rim rock stands alone in the center of the water giving it the look of an island when looking down at it from the sky.
The hike down was a bit trickier that the hike up but that is true of most steep hikes. Satisfied, we completed our descent with yet another highlight for the day as we spotted a bald eagle on the precipice of a tower of rocks… yes I had a pretty nice Father’s day on the trail.
Tuesday was moving day as we left Cove Palisades and made our way back across the skinny bridge and out of the canyon on our way to Richland, Washington to visit friends. Our home for the next several days will be Hood Park, a COE park on the Columbia River in Burbank Washington.