“When everything feels like an uphill struggle, Just think of the view from the top.” - Anonymous
Rhododendron Cove State Nature Preserve is a hidden gem. It is a beautiful, tranquil place. It isn’t the easiest place to find. There aren’t any signs along the road stating its location.
Finding the Parking Lot
We drove by and noticed the gravel parking lot and wondered it was the preserve. But since there wasn’t a sign we didn’t want to trespass. We continued up Pump Station Road and passed Wahkeena Nature Preserve, so we knew we went too far.
After turning around, we went back to the little gravel parking lot. Once we pulled in, we noticed the sign sitting back by the trail entrance.
The Trail Looks Innocent
The beginning of the trail is a mowed path that is flat. We went in March, and the trail was extremely muddy. We almost turned around but decided to continue. It was a good choice. The place is spectacular.
Once you reach the end of the mowed path, you make a left and begin your steep climb. The path is narrow in some areas and sits close to the edge of the hill. A wrong step could mean disaster. But it is wide enough for one person and as long as you pay attention and don’t goof everything should go smoothly.
Once you wind around the narrow trail, you come to some amazing rock formations. The trail makes its way between these rocks at an incline. The trail was covered in fallen leaves and moss which made for a slippery trek. But since the rock walls were so close you could hold on and make your way up while slipping and sliding.
Once you make it to the top, the terrain levels out. The path makes its way around the top, and the views are breathtaking.
Once you have taken in the natural beauty, you can either follow your trail back down or continue on another trail. We took the second trail for a short distance, but sunset was quickly approaching, and we needed to go.
If you only take the first trail, you will walk approx. 2.25 miles in all.
Rhododendron Cove State Nature Preserve is heavily forested. There are steep drop-offs and large rock formations. As the name implies, the preserve is full of rhododendron. Since we went in such a cold drab month, we didn’t have the pleasure of seeing all the beautiful blooms.
This place is absolutely beautiful. There was one other couple there when we arrived, and they left shortly after. The place was pretty much all ours. When we were heading back down, there was a family close to the top that was sitting down having a snack.
The Rhododendron Cove State Nature Preserve sits next to the Columbia Gas Transmission Station. During the first part of the hike, the noise from the station is quite loud. Once you reach the top, the noise seems to disappear.
It can be hard to find since there isn’t a sign located at the road entrance.
There is a bit of a gas smell due to the proximity of the Columbia Gas Transmission Station. We only noticed it at the parking area.
What You Can Expect at Rhododendron Cove State Nature Preserve
Please note that park rules and regulations can change at any time. The following information was in effect for Rhododendron Cove State Nature Preserve as of March 2019.
There are no bathrooms.
There wasn't much bird activity when we were there. But it was in March.
Pets are not permitted.
Trail is steep and can be slippery.
Limestone parking lot that isn't marked.
There are no picnic tables.
There is no playground.
There isn't any seating along the path.
There is a lot of shade.
There is not a shelter house.
Trails are marked with ribbons.
Trail is natural ground.
There are no trash cans.
The only water was a very tiny stream flowing next the the main entrance path.
It is not wheel chair accessible.
Special Features - Rock features and rhododendron.