Why You Should Visit
Located in the transition zone between the moist, heavily-forested west side of the Cascades and the drier bunch grass prairies of the east, Tom McCall Preserve comes into spectacular bloom every spring.
Lava flows, catastrophic floods and volcanic ash deposits shaped a mound-and-swale topography that perplexes the experts. Earthquake sorting, freezing and thawing, erosion, soil accumulations by plants and wildlife burrowing activities have all been suggested as having caused the mounds.
Renowned broadcast journalist, author and outdoor enthusiast Grant McOmie recently visited Tom McCall Preserve. Watch his video to "satisfy your curiosity, let your heart soar and restore your soul in the beauty that is found in Oregon."
On the Old Columbia River Scenic Highway, 11 miles east of Hood River
What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
The preserve is named for Oregon's late governor, Thomas Lawson McCall, whose commitment to conservation in Oregon remains an inspiration. A patchwork of ownership includes the Conservancy, Mayer State Park and national forest lands. The preserve is managed in cooperation with these agencies.
The rare plant populations are monitored by ecologists, and in spring and summer, volunteer docents lead interpretive hikes.
With assistance from the Portland Garden Club, Berry Botanic Garden, Native Plant Society of Oregon and others, the Conservancy also created a native plant garden in the turnaround at the viewpoint.
From late February through June, one of Oregon's most impressive displays of spring wildflowers is found amidst the mounds, swales and vernal pools of this grassland preserve. More than 200 plant species, including grass widows, prairie stars, shooting stars, balsamroot, lupine and Indian paintbrush thrive here.
The open grasslands are home to four plant species unique to the Columbia River Gorge: Thompson's broadleaf lupine, Columbia desert parsley, Thompson's waterleaf and Hood River milkvetch.
The preserve hosts western meadowlark, Oregon's state bird, as well as horned lark, canyon wren and red-winged blackbird. The Pacific chorus frog and mule deer also thrive here.
Spring wildflowers are most abundant in April and May.
At the top of the McCall Point trail, visitors are rewarded with expansive views of the Columbia Gorge and Cascade mountain peaks.
The preserve is often windy, and visitors should beware of ticks, rattlesnakes and poison oak.
Please observe the following guidelines while hiking:
There are two trails on the preserve.
The one-mile plateau trail begins at the interpretive sign at the entrance to the preserve. It crosses the plateau to cliff edges and encircles a permanent pond.
The two-mile McCall Point trail, open May through October, begins from the south side of the turnaround and gains 1,000 feet in elevation.