How to Get to Cape Horn Hike!

Cape Horn is one of my favorite “off-the-radar” Portland hikes.  Though it’s in Washington state, it’s only 30 miles from downtown Portland.  You’ll find it in guide books & lots of folks in Vancouver, WA know about it ~ but most of my Portland friends hadn’t heard of it.  Which I love!  So without further ado, let’s find out how to get to Cape Horn hike here!

How to Get to Cape Horn Hike in Washington, Girl Who Travels the World

Stunning views await on the Cape Horn Trail…

How to Get to Cape Horn Hike in Washington, Girl Who Travels the World

With a slight detour, Cape Horn Trail took us slight over 7 miles.

Eagle Creek Fire Update

The devastating Eagle Creek Fire, that occurred in the Columbia River Gorge on September 2nd, 2017, fortunately did NOT affect the Cape Horn trail (or any of the Gorge trails on the Washington side).  For complete info on trail closures, visit the Gorge Friends website HERE.

How to Get to Cape Horn Hike!

Cape Horn

Directions to Cape Horn

Directions from Downtown Portland

Distance from Portland: 33 miles

  • Take I-84 East until you reach I-205 North
  • Take I-205 North toward Vancouver, WA
  • After 5.7 miles, Veer Right at Exit 27 for WA-14
  • Continue for 10 miles of WA-14 (Lewis & Clark Hwy)
  • Turn left onto Salmon Falls Road
  • Turn right onto Canyon Creek Road
  • In 250 feet, Cape Horn Trailhead will be on your right

Cape Horn Hike Info

  • Starting Point: Cape Horn Trailhead
  • Total Hike Distance: 7.1 mile loop
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Time: 3-4 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 1,350 feet
  • Pet-friendly: Yes (though take care near cliffs, as two dogs have died here recently)
  • Kid-friendly: Maybe; take care near cliffs
  • Good for Trail-Running: Yes
  • Crowded: Light to moderate
  • All Seasons? Yes, but lower loop closed Feb. 1st – July 15th
  • Best Time to Go: Anytime
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Cape Horn Hike Info & Photos

Every time I’ve hiked or run this trail, foot traffic has been relatively light ~ particularly after the first climb.  The hardest part of the trail is right in the beginning: from the parking lot, you climb a series of switchbacks up the mountain.  This is the steepest, hardest climb of the trail.  You’ll get glimpses of the Gorge along the way, & surely find some great photo-ops ~ but the best views await you about a mile up: there’s a gorgeous, rock amphitheater perched on the edge of the mountain, with sweeping views out towards the Gorge.  This view is WELL worth the climb (see photos below).

   Past the amphitheater, you’ll start to descend the mountain, eventually passing under Highway 14.  You’ll also walk along what look like private roads ~ but don’t worry, you’re on the right track.  Take care on the descent.  I’ve taken my dog, Dylan, on this trail ~ & he did fine.  But I’ve heard recently that two dogs have died on this trail after falling off a cliff, so if your dog is older or has vision/mobility issues, leave them behind.  Same goes for children. 

Once you reach the bottom of the descent, you can opt to right or left ~ left takes you back towards the parking lot, & right will eventually take you to Highway 14 (which most of you probably don’t want to do).  This is also the area of the hike that is cordoned off between February 1st & July 15th, for falcons that live near the trail.  If this is the case (it happened to us once), we simply turned around & went back the same way we came in. 

Otherwise, you’ll end up on a nice, paved road with a gentle incline that leads you back to the parking lot (second picture below).  There are peaceful meadows here, & it’s a very pleasant way to end the hike. 

How to Get to Cape Horn Hike, Girl Who Travels the World

After the first, long climb ~ you’ll come to this spectacular, circular viewpoint.

How to Get to Cape Horn Hike, Girl Who Travels the World

The Cape Horn hike isn’t just full of gorge views ~ you may also spot falcons, or pretty meadows like this one.

How to Get to Cape Horn Hike in Washington, Girl Who Travels the World

How to Get to Cape Horn Hike in Washington, Girl Who Travels the World

Unbelievable Gorge views at Cape Horn.

Great Hikes Nearby!

The Columbia River Gorge is FULL of amazing hikes ~ for a more complete list, click here.  Further down WA-14 (away from Portland & Vancouver) is beautiful Dog Mountain (my favorite springtime hike) & Hamilton Mountain ~ both challenging hikes.  If you head back towards Washougal & Vancouver, you can stop off at Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge.  If you want to stay overnight in the area, you’re only about twenty minutes from the beautiful Skamania Lodge

Get Prepared!

 

“60 Hikes!”

If you love hiking in Oregon, then GET this book by Paul Gerald: “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Portland.”  My copy is highlighted & dog-eared galore ~ & there’s no doubt that this one, $13 purchase got me out having more adventures than anything else.  Book gives detailed trail directions for each hike, & categorizes them, so that you can pick the best hike for each season/mood.  Get it & start having adventures!

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How to Get to Cape Horn Hike!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post on how to get to Cape Horn hike.  My goal is to help people get outside more & enjoy life’s adventures ~ & Oregon & the Columbia River Gorge are outstanding places to have a thousand adventures.  Have you hiked Cape Horn before?  Any problems with directions or getting lost?  And of course, did you take your dog?  Let me know in the comments!

Happy Adventuring! 

xoxo Noelia 

Read Next: Great Hikes in the Columbia River Gorge

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Noelle Bertram is a restaurant owner, former fitness coach, Huffington Post writer, & all-around entrepreneur who travels full-time now & writes all about it! Catch up with her on Instagram or @ her website about being the ultimate, fearless travel girl: GirlWhoTravelstheWorld.com.
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