Great Oregon Hikes, Dog Mountain Hike

 Dog Mountain Hike!

I LOVE the Dog Mountain hike, & have done it no less than five times since moving to Portland.  Basically, every spring.  From late April (depending on weather) through June, Dog Mountain is THE hike to do, as the mountainsides positively erupt with beautiful yellow wildflowers.  And views of the Columbia Gorge here are staggering, which is why I keep coming back.  The downside?  It’s a difficult hike, so if you’re a beginner or new to hiking (or if you have bad knees) ~ you may want to try an easier hike first, to get your lungs & legs prepared.

There are three different routes up the mountain at Dog Mountain.  If you’re facing the mountain, the trail to your far left is going to be the longest but easiest route, with gentler inclines (better if you have bad knees).  Otherwise, if you head to the right (up towards the bathrooms), eventually the trail will split: the trail farthest right is “intermediate,” aka still really damn hard, & the trail in the center is going to be the shortest, steepest option.  I usually go up the steep way (for the challenge & to get it over with), & then come down the long way, which is much easier on my knees, & gives you great views towards the west.  

Great Oregon Hikes, Dog Mountain Hike, 10 Positive Affirmations for Solo Travel

Me & Dylan coming up the steep way (center route) of the Dog Mountain hike.

Map to Dog Mountain Hike!

Dog Mountain

Directions to Dog Mountain

Directions from Downtown Portland

Distance from Portland: 55 miles

  • Take I-84 East for 41 miles
  • Take Exit 44 onto US-30
  • In 0.4 miles, Take Slight Right onto Bridge of the Gods
  • In 0.7 miles, Turn right onto State Road 14
  • In 12 miles, the destination is on your left: Dog Mountain Trailhead.

Dog Mountain Info

  • Starting Point: Dog Mountain Trailhead
  • Total Hike Distance: 6.9+ miles, depending which route (3 routes total)
  • Hike Type: Out and back OR modified loop
  • Difficulty: STEEP & difficult
  • Time: 3-5 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 2,800 feet
  • Pet-friendly: Yes
  • Kid-friendly: Only if very active & non-complainers!
  • Good for Trail-Running: Yes, a major challenge
  • Crowded: Yes, especially in May & June
  • All Seasons? Yes
  • Best Time to Go: May & June! Weekdays better ~ weekends are jam-packed. Finding parking can be very difficult.
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Dog Mountain Hike Photos

Dog Mountain HIke, Great Oregon Hikes

It’s ALWAYS windy at the top of Dog Mountain! Bring a jacket.

Dog Mountain Hike, Great Oregon Hikes

Wildflowers as far as the eye can see…

Dog Mountain Hike, Great Oregon Hikes

Dog Mountain is meant to be done with good friends & good dogs.

Other Hikes Nearby!

After hiking Dog Mountain, I highly doubt you’ll even want to attempt another hike!  But, if Dog Mountain proves too hard, or it’s simply too crowded, try Cape Horn hike or Hamilton Mountain loop.  Both hikes are also on the Washington side, off Highway 14, & closer to Portland.  Neither are quite as steep as Dog Mountain, but will still give you great Gorge views.  

If you need to try an easier hike before attempting a challenge like the Dog Mountain hike, give Angel’s Rest or Wahkeena Falls a try on the Oregon side.  They are both much shorter hikes than Dog Mountain, & considerably easier, but will start getting you ready for hiking season.   

The Columbia River Gorge is FULL of amazing hikes ~ for a more complete list, click here.  

Where to Stay & Drink!

Dog Mountain Hike, Skamania Lodge

Skamania Lodge is only about 15 minutes away from Dog Mountain. Grab a drink & enjoy the view or stay a night.

Skamania Lodge is a pretty famous place in Washington, & a very popular weekend getaway for Portlanders.  Looking at the photo above, you can see why.  If the hike knocks the stuffing out of you, grab a beer & a bite to eat up at the lodge.  If you can swing it, stay a night & turn it into a weekend.  Otherwise, you can always cross back over the Bridge of the Gods & head north into Hood River.  There are tons of great restaurants & breweries in Hood River that provide perfect post-hike relief, & if you’re looking for a room in Hood River, click here.  

Get Prepared!

Light Windbreaker

Even during the summer in Portland, it’s never a bad idea to bring a light windbreaker.  Oregon weather can be unpredictable, & rain is always a possibility. 

Good Trail Running Shoes

The more you wear regular tennis shoes on the trail ~ the more you realize you need good trail running or hiking shoes.  You’ll get better ankle stability & have better traction, & typically are NOT white (like all my ruined Nike’s).

Small Backpack with Water

For most hikes, you’ll need water, some snacks, sunscreen, a hat, & possibly a swimsuit ~ plus whatever else you deem essential.  Small backpacks are perfect for day hikes ~ & this one includes a 2L hydration pack for you & your pup.

60 Hikes Within 60 Miles

 

Easily my favorite guidebook for hikes near Portland ~ it covers the Gorge, Mt. Hood, Portland, & the Oregon Coast.  Rip out pages for the hike you choose, especially on long hikes ~ or take a photo of trail directions & use as a guide.

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