Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Ainsworth State Park

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A small batch of pics from Ainsworth & McLoughlin State Parks [map], out in the Gorge at the east end of the Gorge Highway, around the tiny town of Dodson.

Ainsworth State Park

You might not have heard of either of the two parks, since they don't have waterfalls. Ainsworth is the only state park in the western Columbia Gorge with overnight camping, so that's it's claim to fame. There's a trail or two you can take while you're there (and the photos are from one of them), but camping out is the main deal. Since there aren't any waterfalls nearby, the trails are uncrowded, so they've got that going for them at least.

Ainsworth State Park

Ainsworth State Park

McLoughlin State Park or more properly "State Natural Area" (below) is even more obscure. The state parks website doesn't even offer an info page about the place, although they do mention it in passing here and there (here for example). In its heyday, all it offered was a convenient trailhead to the Gorge Trail #400 and a chunk of forest, so it was never really a crown jewel of the system, I gather. Then in 1996, several miles of the trail were destroyed by flooding, and still haven't been rebuilt, over a decade later. So there's still a trailhead, I suppose, but it doesn't really go anywhere anymore.

There used to be an elementary school next to the trailhead, but it closed in 1996 as well, and Bonneville School is someone's private property now. Very private property. All sorts of "No Trespassing" and "Monitored 24 Hours" signs. So whoever, or whatever, owns the land now isn't keen on visitors. This transition from a school to some sort of paranoid Y2K bunker is probably a metaphor for modern society or something.

The photo was taken at the end of McLoughlin Parkway (once named after the park, I figure), next to the closed gate to the school property. The trail into the park proper starts somewhere nearby, and skirts the ex-school property. It's not marked now. I think it was at one time, but it isn't anymore. I'm not sure if there's any reason to go there at present.

McLoughlin State Park

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