Great Hikes in the Columbia Gorge!
The Columbia River Gorge is one of the best places to hike in all of Oregon, & the good news for Portland hikers is that it’s so close to the city ~ drive less than an hour, & you’ll be at some of Oregon’s most beautiful, classic hikes: Multnomah Falls, Angel’s Rest, Dog Mountain, Punchbowl Falls, & so many more. And this post will take you inside some of the best hikes in the Columbia Gorge!
Part of the reason I created this page was that it can be hard to find informative posts online about Oregon hiking, with quick specifics such as simple overviews, directions, mileage, & incline info. Other information out there is quite dry & technical, giving latitude & longitude coordinates as the “directions” ~ which might be great for hiking experts, but rather unhelpful for the average person. So I’m attempting to remedy that with simple directions from downtown Portland for all these hikes in the Columbia Gorge.
And since summer is rapidly approaching, I’ve added a “Hikes” section right at the top of the website, so you can easily access all of this information for your next hike.
Let’s Go Hiking in the Gorge!
Meet Your Oregon Hiking Guides!
Noelle & Dylan!
Dylan and I will be your guides for these great hikes in the Columbia Gorge ~ he’s done all of them with me except Oneonta Gorge! (Click on it & you’ll see why.) Oregon is probably my favorite place in the entire country to hike with a dog. People & parks tend to be very dog-friendly in Oregon, & nearly all of the hikes in the Columbia Gorge can be done with your best dog friend.
I found out about most of these Gorge hikes through a great book that has become my reference guide for hikes in the area, “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Portland.” I bought this when I first arrived in Portland ~ and I’m so glad I did. It’s now dog-eared, highlighted, and filled with notes. If you live in Portland and love to hike, especially in the Gorge ~ pick it up!
Map of Columbia Gorge Hikes!
Use the map below to get an overview of great hikes in the Columbia Gorge ~ it can be a great tool for planning. If you’re short on time, zoom in closer to Portland & pick one of the closer hikes, such as Angel’s Rest. If you are ready for an all-day adventure, then head out to Mosier Tunnels (just past Hood River) or Dog Mountain. And if you get all the way to Hood River, don’t forget to stop off at Naked Winery…one of the best watering holes around.
Punchbowl Falls/Eagle Creek
Eagle Creek to High Bridge
Hikes in the Columbia Gorge
All hikes listed below are located in the Columbia River Gorge, & are listed in alphabetical order. Some are on the Oregon side, some in Washington. Nearly all boast incredible Gorge views, & ALL are less than 60 miles from downtown Portland (except for Mosier Tunnels, which is 65 miles). Click on the hike itself, & it will take you to a separate page containing more info about that hike specifically.
So without further ado, let’s head off to some of the best hikes in the Columbia Gorge!
1. Angel’s Rest Hike – One of the most popular hikes in Portland, Angel’s Rest provides a great lookout with a fairly gentle incline, making it accessible to pretty much everyone ~ including kids & dogs. If you have friends coming to town, of pretty much any fitness level, this is the hike to take them on. Located in the Columbia River Gorge, near Multnomah Falls. Starting Point: Angel’s Rest Trailhead. Distance from Portland: 28 miles. Parking Lot: Yes. Trail Length: 4.8 miles, out-and-back. Incline: Gentle to moderate, some rocks towards top. All seasons: Yes (but be careful in winter, trail slippery). Crowded: Yes. Directions to Angel’s Rest & More Info: click here.
2. Cape Horn Hike – Located on the Washington side of the Gorge, yet relatively close to Portland, Cape Horn isn’t as popular as Angel’s Rest ~ simply because less people know about it. Which makes it a great place to hike now! You’ll get spectacular views of the Gorge, & trail runners will get a good challenge with some decent inclines. Pleasant trail with lots of variation, including some peaceful meadows. Kid & dog-friendly. Starting Point: Cape Horn Trailhead. Distance from Portland: 33 miles. Parking Lot: Yes. Trail Length: 7.1 mile loop. Incline: Moderate. Crowded: Moderate. All seasons: Yes, but lower loop closed Feb. 1st – July 15th. Directions to Cape Horn & More Info: click here.
3. Dog Mountain Hike – This is one of my absolute favorite hikes in all of Oregon. It’s steep, challenging, & will have you huffing & puffing ~ but if it’s April, May or June, when all the wildflowers are blooming: you simply MUST go. It’s THE best hike of the Oregon spring. You’ll get sweeping, epic views of the Gorge once you’re about 3/4 of the way up, & then you’ll be thankful for all the huffing & puffing. Bring a windbreaker though ~ it’s always windy at the top! Located in the Columbia River Gorge, on Washington side near Stevenson, WA. Starting Point: Dog Mountain Trailhead. Distance from Portland: 55 miles. Parking Lot: Yes, dirt lot on side of highway, often full. Trail Length: 6.9+ mile loop (3 different routes). Incline: STEEP. All seasons: Yes. Crowded: Yes, especially in spring. Directions to Dog Mountain & More Info: click here.
4. Eagle Creek to High Bridge Hike – This hike starts by taking you past the popular Punchbowl Falls (see further description below), ending at High Bridge. But don’t think Eagle Creek ends there! If you want, you could keep climbing up to Tunnel Falls, or in a mere 13 miles from the trailhead ~ you’d hit the Pacific Crest Trail. Options are endless at Eagle Creek, & all will offer you waterfalls & plenty of opportunities to swim & wander through pristine Pacific Northwest forest. The payoff at High Bridge is just that: a really high bridge over Eagle Creek. If you’re afraid of heights, you may want to skip this one. Similarly, use caution bringing kids & dogs on this hike: you’ve got some steep drop-offs & narrow ledges. Starting Point: Eagle Creek Trailhead. Distance from Portland: 41 miles. Parking Lot: Yes. Be careful of break-ins. Trail Length: 6.4 miles, out-and-back. Incline: Easy to moderate. All seasons: Yes. Crowded: Yes, especially in summer & lower half of trail. Directions to Eagle Creek & More Info: click here.
5. Horsetail Falls Loop – The payoff is right at the beginning of the hike ~ literally on the side of the road! The beautiful & insanely Instagram-mable Horsetail Falls is nestled right next to the Old Columbia Highway. Which means, if you’re a lazy hiker: this one’s for you! The loop itself is also quite easy, with views of 3 waterfalls & Oneonta Gorge. Very kid & pet-friendly, though it does get crowded. Located in the Columbia River Gorge, next to Oneonta Gorge. Starting Point: Horsetail Falls Trailhead. Distance from Portland: 36 miles. Parking Lot: Yes, beside the waterfall. Trail Length: 2.6 mile loop. Incline: Gentle. All seasons: Yes, not during winter storms. Crowded: Yes. Directions to Horsetail Falls & More Info: click here.
6. Larch Mountain Hike – Serious hikers only on this one. Why? Because you’ve got over 4,000 feet to climb! Starting out at Multnomah Falls Lodge with loads of people, you’ll end up virtually by yourself in the forest & traversing volcanic ash. And the payoff (at Sherrard Point, pictured) is one of the best in Portland: on a clear day, you’ll be able to see Mt. Defiance, Table Mountain, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, as well as Mt. Hood & Mt. Jefferson. Quite a payoff. Only very active kids & dogs for this hike, otherwise you’ll hear lots of complaining! Located in the Gorge, near Multnomah Falls. Starting Point: Multnomah Falls Trailhead. Distance from Portland: 30 miles. Parking Lot: Yes. Trail Length: 14.4 miles round-trip, out-and-back (less enthusiastic hikers can leave a car at the top & save the hike down, if you bring two cars). Incline: Difficult, steep. Seasons: April-November. Crowded: At Multnomah Falls, yes. Past that, no.
7. Mosier Tunnels Hike – I love this walk. If you’re headed to Hood River ~ give this trail a try. It’s perfect for bikers, walkers, kids, dogs, & anyone training for a marathon: this is a nice, wide, paved path with a very slight incline (great for training) that winds along the Columbia River for some seriously stunning views. The wide berth & lack of cars makes it a great place to walk dogs off-leash (start with them on leash at trailhead). And the payoff are the magnificent Mosier Tunnels, set against a Gorge backdrop. Stunning. Located in the Gorge, just past Hood River, before Mosier. Starting Point: Mark Hatfield West Trailhead (or try “Historic Columbia River Hwy State Trail”). Distance from Portland: 65 miles. Parking Lot: Yes, with $5 fee. Trail Length: 8.5 miles round-trip, out-and-back, on paved road. Incline: Gentle to moderate incline. Seasons: Yes. Crowded: Moderate. Directions to Mosier Tunnels & More Info: click here.
8. Multnomah Falls – Multnomah Falls is one of Oregon’s most iconic images, & its tallest waterfall. It also features the iconic Benson Bridge (pictured, at right). And you don’t even have to hike to see the falls ~ they are visible right off the main highway. Though this is undoubtedly one of the great hikes in the Columbia Gorge, it isn’t one of my favorites: it gets very wet, can be a steep, slippery descent, & mainly, it’s just too damn crowded. However, if you’re an Oregonian: you should probably do it at least once. And it will likely be a hit with out-of-town guests. Hike is kid-friendly, but as for dogs, I’d leave them behind on this one unless you & your pooch don’t mind big crowds (& there’s NO chance of having your dog off-leash here ~ too many tourists). Located in the Gorge, next to Multnomah Falls Lodge. Starting Point: Multnomah Falls Trailhead. Distance from Portland: 30 miles. Parking Lot: Yes, large one. Trail Length: 2.4 miles. Incline: Moderate, steep in parts. All seasons: Yes. Crowded: Yes, very. Directions to Multnomah Falls & More Info: click here.
9. Oneonta Gorge – On a hot summer day, this is where you’ll want to be. The problem is: so will everyone else in Portland! Calling Oneonta a “hike” isn’t really accurate ~ you’re not actually gaining any elevation here. What you’re doing is climbing over logs, wading waist-deep through cold water, & getting seriously WET ~ which is why you want to go on a hot day, otherwise you’ll be freezing. The payoff is a gorgeous waterfall at the end of the hike. Unless your kids & dogs are SUPER adventurous & know how to swim: leave them at home. We tried to take my (cautious) dog on this hike, but he was terrified & had to stay in the car. Located in the Columbia River Gorge, next to Horsetail Falls. Starting Point: Oneonta Trailhead. Distance from Portland: 32 miles. Parking Lot: Yes, but most likely you’ll need to park on side of the road. Trail Length: 1.0 mile, treading in water out-and-back. Incline: None. All seasons: No, summer only. Crowded: Yes, in summer. Directions to Oneonta Gorge & More Info: click here.
10. Punchbowl Falls via Eagle Creek – Like Oneonta Gorge, Punchbowl Falls is meant for hot, summer days. And it will be accordingly crowded! You start this hike at the Eagle Creek Trailhead (which leads to numerous hiking options ~ including the famous Pacific Crest Trail). It’s a relatively easy hike, but the problem for kids & dogs here are some steep drop-offs & a few narrow ledges that require the use of cables. I brought Dylan on this hike & he was fine ~ but use caution when deciding to bring dogs or small children on this one. The payoff here is swimming in the cool waters surrounding Punchbowl Falls, which make this a great hike to do with friends! Located in the Gorge, past North Bonneville, but before Cascade Locks. Starting Point: Eagle Creek Trailhead. Distance from Portland: 41 miles. Parking Lot: Yes. Be careful of car break-ins here (hide or bring all valuables with you). Trail Length: 3.8 miles, out-and-back. Incline: Easy to moderate. All seasons: Yes. Crowded: Yes, especially in summer. Directions to Punchbowl Falls & Other Eagle Creek hikes: click here.
11. Triple Falls – The name gives it away: the payoff here is not one, not two ~ but three waterfalls; hence, Triple Falls. The trail isn’t too long, & varies between steep & flat, but take care with kids & dogs as there are some steep drop-offs, slippery rocks, & loose gravel. Located in the Columbia River Gorge, next to Oneonta Gorge & Horsetail Falls. Starting Point: Oneonta Trailhead. Distance from Portland: 32 miles. Parking Lot: Yes, or park along the highway. Trail Length: 3.2 miles, out-and-back. Incline: Variable. All seasons: Yes, but take extra care during winter. Crowded: Moderate.
12. Wahkeena Falls – Wahkeena Falls is a great beginner trail, as it’s quite short with a moderate incline, & a good, paved path for much of it. And there are lots of payoffs along the way (frequent rewards = good for beginner hikers!) like great Gorge views, pleasant streams, & of course, the lovely Wahkeena Falls. All these things make this hike a great option kids & dogs. Located in the Gorge, right next to Multnomah Falls. Starting Point: Wahkeena Trailhead. Distance from Portland: 30 miles. Parking Lot: Yes, or optionally you could park at Multnomah Falls. Trail Length: 1.4 miles, out-and-back. Incline: Steep in the beginning, then moderate. All seasons: Yes, but trail can get very icy during winter. Crowded: Yes.
I hope this post helps you better plan your Oregon adventures this summer. Because my friends & I love hiking so much, I’ll be adding to this section all summer long ~ updating it with new hikes, so check back frequently if you’re looking for new adventures for your personal Portland hiking “Bucket List.” Let me know in the comments below what you’re favorite hikes in the Columbia Gorge are ~ & if they’re not on my list, I’ll add them!
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