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Hiking with Craig Romano

Posted by Susan Elderkin at Apr 01, 2010 11:37 AM |
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This past weekend I spent two days hiking three wonderful, little-known trails in the Columbia River Gorge. My companions - guidebook author Craig Romano and frequent trip reporter Kim Brown.

Craig is currently conducting research (i.e. hiking) for a new book due out next spring from Mountaineer Books. It will detail one hundred hikes in the Columbia River Gorge region, with roughly half on the Washington side of the river. Many of the hikes he'll feature are not currently in any guidebook, which makes its release pretty exciting for hikers in the region.

Craig is one of the authors who has taken over the Mountaineers Books guidebook series from Ira Spring and Harvey Manning. He's an avid hiker (obviously!) who has been living and hiking in Washington since 1989. Before he began writing full time, he was a history teacher in Edmonds, and you can see this background at work in his guidebook entries.

Craig's first book for Mountaineers Books was Best Hikes with Dogs: Inland Northwest. His success with that project led to authoring three books in the new Day Hiking series - Olympic Peninsula, North Cascades and Central Cascades. Now in addition to the Columbia Gorge book, he's also penning a backpacking book for Washington (also due out next spring) as well as a guidebook for hikes in the Central and Eastern Washington.

To get these books out on time, he tells me that he has 45 more hikes in the Gorge and 20 more backpacks to do before the end of August. That's a lot of hiking! But he's up for the task, and you can trust that he has hiked every mile of every trail he features. 

My biggest worry this weekend was that I'd slow him down. But fortunately, Kim and I were able to actually help him out by doing a car shuttle on two sections of the Klickitat Rail Trail, a 31-mile rail conversion shepherded by the Klickitat Trail Conservancy.

On Saturday we hiked 13 miles through Swale Canyon - a sweet and easy journey along a pleasant creek in a remote canyon with lots of emerging wildflowers (especially desert parsley) and even a nesting great horned owl. On Sunday we continued on the Klickitat River end of the trail. The Klickitat River is a designated Wild and Scenic River, and it certainly fits the bill. Kim wrote up a great Trip Report on both sections.

But the real treat for me was the Lyle Cherry Orchard. It's owned by Friends of the Columbia Gorge and climbs from Highway 14 east of Lyle, Washington, high above the Columbia River. Every turn of this 5-mile gem brings new views, new wildflowers and new reasons to stop and take pictures. You can read Kim's report here.

After this weekend Lyle Cherry Orchard is now my favorite Gorge hike. What's yours?