Scarborough Hill─Giant Sitka Spruces at historic fort on the Columbia River

Massive old-growth Sitka Spruce shroud Scarborough Hill

Massive old-growth Sitka Spruce shroud Scarborough Hill

Quick Facts

Location: Fort Columbia State Park, Pacific County, WA

Land Agency: Washington State Parks

Roundtrip: 2.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 630 feet

Access: From Kelso head west 56 miles on SR 4 to Naselle. Turn left onto SR 401 proceeding 12 miles to a junction with US 101 at the Astoria-Megler Bridge. Continue west on US 101 for 3 miles turning left into Fort Columbia State Park. Trail begins at west end of parking area west of Interpretive Center.

Notes: Discover Pass required; dogs allowed on leash.

Contact: Fort Columbia State Park 

Recommended Guidebook: Day Hiking Olympic Peninsula (2nd ed)

Good to Know: Kid-friendly, dog-friendly (on leash), historic, old-growth, snow-free winter hikes

Hike through a rare coastal old-growth Sitka Spruce Forest and enjoy sweeping views of the mouth of the Columbia River. After your grunt up Scarborough Hill, snoop around the meticulously preserved early 20th century historic structures of Fort Columbia, a former military reservation.

Established in 1899, Fort Columbia was one of several defense installations designed to protect the Columbia River from enemy attack. It was never fired upon; and today the fort is a 618-acre state park preserving history as well as impressive ancient forest.

There are two hiking trails that wind up 767-foot Scarborough Hill. Consider heading up the 1.2 mile Scarborough Trail and returning the 1.0 mile Military Road Trail. Start by passing some batteries overlooking the Columbia River. Then begin climbing pausing at gaps in the forest canopy provide for some decent views of the massive mouth of the Columbia, the quaint maritime community of Astoria, Oregon, and lumpy Saddle and Neahkahnie Mountains.

Amble through rows of smooth barked alder growing among scaly barked ancient spruce trees. After 1.2 miles reach Scarborough Hill’s forested summit. There are no views; the trees are the attraction here. Admire them and return to the fort by returning on the easy old Military Road Trail. Be sure to save time for exploring the historic fort grounds before heading home.

For detailed information on this hike and 135 more from the Columbia River to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, pick up a copy of my best-selling Day Hiking Olympic Peninsula 2nd ed (Mountaineers Books). No other guidebook for hiking in the Olympics is more trusted or comprehensive!

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