Tam-a-lau Trail at Cove Palisades State Park

MODERATE 55 reviews

Tam-a-lau Trail at Cove Palisades State Park is a 6 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Culver, Oregon that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

6.0 miles
856 feet

dogs on leash

kid friendly




nature trips

paddle sports

trail running





wild flowers




4 days ago

Really neat. Initial ascent is difficult but I’m a beginner and did ok. At the top of the plateau, I personally would skip the right side of the loop. It’s just a flat trail through brush. When you reach the loop sign at the top, I recommend going left to see the cliffs, then turning around when you’d like. You’re not missing any views or interesting terrain. Also, the sun beats down a lot harder up there! I got burnt with a good layer of sunblock.

27 days ago

Super cool hike!! First section up is a pain, but once you get up top it’s smooth sailing with lots of great views of Jefferson, Washington, Three Sisters, etc. and Billy Chinook below. Decent amounts of shade and not too crowded. If you’re going during the summer DEFINITELY wear and bring sunscreen, and lots of cold water. Very direct sun and very hot (6/19/18- about 80-85 degrees and no cloud coverage, did between 1pm-3pm).

2 months ago

was amazing, a little rough going up well worth it gorgeous up top bring lots of water

3 months ago

I loved this hike! I camped at Lake Billy Chinook campground , that was a super convenient way to hike the trail. I hiked this 7/31/16. I started first thing in the morning while the campground was still quiet (6am-ish). This was a perfect time as I never got too hot during the hike. I didn’t complete the loop at the top. I finished at about 8ish. It is a desert type hike. The views were amazing! Make sure you have a camera! I only saw two sets of people on the trail this early. I did like the campground. However, it was super full with lots of people. Not my favorite kind of camping, but was just fine for one night en route to Eastern Oregon, with a pit stop at Smith Rock along the way.

5 months ago

I visited The Cove Palisades State Park on an overcast mid-January day.
There are apparently 3 ways to get to the trailhead: park at the day-use or boat ramp parking lots ($5) or start from your camp site (if you overnight there). From the trail-head information panel (sign up the register there if you'd like) it is about 1.25 uphill for a 600ft elevation gain. A bit of a workout but not really too challenging (depending on what shape you are in of course). The trail is sometimes narrow and (I got there after a few days of on-again/off-again rain) muddy. There are a few wooden steps sections in the first half but, again, nothing to put too much of a strain on joints.
Once on the plateau, the main objective is to complete the Tam-a-Lau loop (about 3.5 miles). The loop includes a 1.25 miles traverse between the Deschute River and Crooked River canyons, and hugs the edge of the plateau, above the rivers, for 1+ miles each side. As the trail stays very close to the edge, there are countless opportunities for carefully looking over the edge and taking pictures.
I decided to extend the standard loop by continuing on the dirt road on the west side of the Crooked River Canyon for about 0.66 miles until another dirt road branches at 90 degrees on the left to connect with the South Peninsula (dirt) road after .2 miles. I then descended the South Peninsula Rd for another .75 miles to the edge of the lower plateau above the Crooked River. I then got off the road and followed the edge of the lower plateau for a while; the views a quite amazing on that section too... but stay extra vigilant as it is a fully vertical drop to the river below and the edge is sometimes eroded and starting to separate from the main landmass.
Rather than retracing my steps up the South Peninsula Rd, I followed a use trail directly up to the summit plateau and the Tam-a-Lau loop.
I did give 5 stars on account of the stunning views of the river and the canyon walls (not to forget a short visit to the Crooked River petroglyph just off the road). You have however to love the desert to completely share my enthusiasm; not lush forests, no (accessible) water, sparse arid scrubby vegetation... this is likely a very hot and dry place if you visit it during the warmer times of the year. Of course, in you are here to enjoy water sports too, you would have many options to compensate for a sweaty day on the trail.

6 months ago

We just did this hike for the first time today. It is such a nice hike. Once we made it to the top we enjoyed a panoramic view of the mountains, the cove and the sounding landscape.

10 months ago

Cove Palisades state park is a hidden gem, great facilities, lake, picnic, boat rentals, etc. The hike is 7mi round trip from trailhead parking. You can park is lower lot and head towards campground….saves 1mi and trail runs right next to the lot. Nice views from the top.

11 months ago

Recently hiked this trail (7/29/17). It was beautiful, and we saw so many animals including a doe, a rabbit, lizards, vultures, etc. I recommend doing this hike early in the summer because of the heat and there is no shade once you reach the loop. The elevation gain is all at the beginning of the hike and the bulk of the trail is flat. Great views of Mt. Hood, Bachelor, and the Three Sisters, as well as the amazing green color of Lake Billy Chinook.

11 months ago

Really hot and long to do in July. Probably better in a cooler season.

trail running
Friday, July 14, 2017

I'll second Charyl's review. "Low Effort, High Reward."

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Low Effort, High Reward.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Beautiful view of Lake Billy Chinook from the top. Great hike!

Thursday, June 01, 2017

We did it as a family we all loved it and even had a picnic at the rim. We can't wait to do the trail again in the fall. Great views. Great family time.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Gorgeous hike!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Just did some of this trail today. Absolutely amazing views. We didn't know Oregon had this to offer. We are no strangers to difficult "non-stroller friendly" trails but we hiked this one with our large wheeled stroller with our two year old... not recommended. It's a moderately difficult hike to begin with but with a stroller it was down right hard. So much so that we just had lunch at the top and returned. We hope to come back and finish once our kid is old enough to walk on his own. Our seven year old did fine. Lots of rocks... Wear good boots. Not for the faint of heart (steep dropoffs with 12" footing, no fall prevention) I'm not a runner but I'd say this is no running trail!

Once you get on top it looks pretty flat... still lots of rocks on the trail.

The campground is nice, has a nice off leash area for dogs! I wish Oregon Parks would be more friendly to "walk-in" campers. Who plans thier trips so far in advance to know which days to stay where? Kinda takes the fun out of it no?

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Great views from the top. Deer and birds, trail in great shape. Nobody else on the trail over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Beautiful views!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Great hike. Been a couple of years since I have done this hike. Awesome views at the top.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Most of the hike was on top of the bluff. The vegetation was juniper & sage which covers most of central Oregon & so therefore pretty "ho-hum". One-and-a-half miles of the trail over look down into the gorge. This can cause a bit of vertigo, but worth the view...this is why it only gets two stars.

Monday, June 06, 2016

A great hike with spectacular views.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Great Hike!!!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Awesome, great for a group of friends

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Awesome. Beautiful views, 1st mile is difficult the rest is very easy.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Went in april barely any people beautiful views

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Friday, March 20, 2015

Great views. Some erosion in steep areas. Worth the hike. Moderate for us.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Nice hike, beautiful views. My 4 legged hiking buddy enjoyed it too,

Monday, June 10, 2013

Great hike, nice views, good exercise!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Stunning views of mountains and two of the three rivers that make Lake Billy Chinook. The first mile of the trail is a 600' elevation gain to get to the top, then a nice loop trail around the rim. Be sure to sign the log book!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

We're always looking for low elevation hikes to do in the winter here and this is a pretty good one. The trailhead is at 2600' so well below the snow zone. The views of the Deschutes River gorge & Crooked River gorge are just spectacular, especially if you're into geology. Great view of Mt Jefferson, too. Lake Billy Chinook is a wintering area for bald eagles, athough we didn't see any today.
Avoid this trail if the weather's been rainy.
This is a hike-only trail - no bikes (motorized or no) or horses allowed.

Load More