My Top Five Spring Columbia River Gorge Hikes


1. Dog Mountain

Distance: 6.9 miles

Hike Type: Out & Back

Elevation Gain: 2,800 ft. Difficulty Level: Strenuous

Trailhead: Dog Mountain TH

Distance From PDX: 55 miles

Dog Mountain is a beast. A beautiful, beautiful beast. The best time to do this hike is late May through mid June because the final stretch of the hike is covered in fields of wildflowers. You can, of course, hike Dog at other times of the year but the wildflowers make the final, exposed stretch to the summit much more bearable. Another great feature of the hike is being able to see both Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood on clear days.

One important thing to note about Dog Mountain is its extreme popularity. To ensure that you can get a parking spot, I'd recommend arriving before 8:00 AM. Plus, if you get there early then you can get the majority of the hike done before the hottest part of the day!

2. Wahkeena Falls - Multnomah Falls

Distance: 4.9 miles

Hike Type: Loop

Elevation Gain: 1,600 ft.

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Starting Trailhead: Wahkeena Falls TH

Ending Trailhead: Multnomah Falls TH

Distance From PDX: 30 miles

I first saw Multnomah Falls from above during this hike, and it was a spectacular way to experience the most popular waterfall in the Gorge. This trail takes you past eight major waterfalls, including Fairy Falls, pictured to the right. You'll also get to hike through a Jurassic-esque canyon of lush forest and ferns and even more waterfalls.

The trail from Wahkeena Falls to the halfway point is mostly uphill, although lots of switchbacks and gradual hills make the elevation gain very manageable. About half of the descent is done in the eleven switchbacks that take you from the top of Multnomah Falls all the way down to the bottom. This is another hike that can get crowded, especially because of its proximity to Multnomah Falls. If you don't want to hike down through extreme crowds, you can always arrive early and start at Multnomah Falls instead of Wahkeena Falls.

3. Angel's Rest

Distance: 4.8 miles

Hike Type: Out & Back

Elevation Gain: 1,450 ft.

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Trailhead: Angel's Rest TH

Distance From PDX: 27 miles

Angel's Rest is a grueling hike, and there's no way around that. However, the reward of stunning views from the top more than makes up for the creaky knees and burning quads!

Angel's Rest is a pretty straightforward up & down hike. Once you finally get to the summit (and don't be tricked by the false summit boulder field about 10 minutes from the top), there are dozens of little rocky outcroppings where you can sit back, relax, admire the view, and refuel for the trip down.

4. Eagle Creek to Twister Falls

Distance: 12.5 miles

Hike Type: Out & Back

Elevation Gain: 1640 ft.

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Trailhead: Eagle Creek TH

Distance From PDX: 40 miles

Eagle Creek is one of my favorite Gorge trails; everything is covered in moss, the rocky cliff faces lining the trail drip with water in the spring, there are multiple unique waterfalls, and the hillsides burst with wildflowers in the spring. This trail to Twister Falls, pictured on the right, will take you past Punchbowl Falls and behind the 160 ft. tall Tunnel Falls.

One of the great things about Eagle Creek Trail is that no matter your skill level, you can experience it. The first major attraction on the trail, Punchbowl Falls, is only 1.9 miles in from the trailhead. It's a great hike for families and more casual hikers.

5. Catherine Creek Arch Loop

Distance: 2.1 miles

Hike Type: Loop

Elevation Gain: 500 ft.

Difficulty Level: Easy

Trailhead: Catherine Creek TH

Distance From PDX: 72 miles

This hike is a little farther from town, but is located conveniently close to the town of Hood River. I'd highly recommend doing a morning hike at Catherine Creek, then heading to Hood River for lunch.

The natural gems of Catherine Creek are certainly the stunning wildflowers and the views of Mount Hood you get on a clear day. However, the Catherine Creek area also has a rich cultural history from settlers and Native Americans, and takes you past an old rock arch, corrals, and other artifacts.

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