VANTAGE — Just past the Columbia River off I-90 rests the Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park. The park presents a key stop for those interested in the Ice Age Floods that helped carve out the region.
A series of trails just a few miles from the highway exit provides visitors the chance the glimpse the rolling grass hills, and even get a glimpse of some of the petrified wood still present on the land.
The petrified wood was encased in lava, when magma flowed across the region, with much of the organic material being replaced mineral, preserving the wood in its place. As visitors walk along the trail, examples of the gingko, spruce, elm, walnut, and fir trees that once covered the region can be still be seen on the trailside.
A quick trip down the trail can be made to get a glimpse of the petrified historic artifacts. Those with a little more time can embark on the whole three-mile trip around the area to get a glimpse of the rolling hills overlooking the Columbia River, as well as the rocks and sagebrush that sparse the region.
As with many trails around the region, examples of the basalt columns can be seen with a quick trip up around the hills. With an elevation gain of 200 feet, according to the Washington Trails Association, hikers can reach a point of 2,600 feet on their way through the Ginkgo State Park.
In addition to the trails, new information panels were installed recently that give visitors a chance to learn a little bit more about the geological history that helped form the area we see today. A scenic view also resides just off the highway beside the Columbia River that provides visitors a great view of the waters below, as well as the sprawling hills and cliffside of the Basin that surround them.
Visitors to the trails are required to have the Discover Pass, and, as on most other trails in the region, should always be vigilant of western rattlesnakes on their trip.