How to Get to Cape Horn Hike
Cape Horn is one of my favorite “off-the-radar” Portland hikes. Though it’s located in Washington state: it’s only 30 miles from downtown Portland. You’ll find it in guide books, & lots of folks in Vancouver, Washington know about it ~ but most of my Portland friends hadn’t heard of it. Which I love….because everytime I’ve hiked here, we hardly run into any other people. It’s pretty amazing. So without further ado, let’s find out how to get to the Cape Horn hike!
Map of Cape Horn Hike
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
Cape Horn Hike Info & Photos
Every time I’ve hiked 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 part of the trail. You’ll get glimpses of the Gorge along the way, & 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.
The view is WELL worth the climb.
Past the amphitheater, you’ll start to descend the mountain, eventually passing under Highway 14. You’ll 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 here 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 go right or left. Left takes you back towards the parking lot, & right will eventually take you to Highway 14 (which most probably don’t want to do). This is also the part of the hike that’s cordoned off from February 1st to July 15th, for falcons that live near the trail. If this is the case, simply turn around & go back the way you came in.
Otherwise, you’ll end up on a nice, paved road with a gentle incline that leads you back to the parking lot. There are peaceful meadows here, & it’s a very pleasant way to end the hike.
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 spring hike, & Hamilton Mountain ~ both are very challenging. If you head back towards Washougal, you can stop off at Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Or if you want to stay overnight in the area, you’re only about 20 minutes from the beautiful Skamania Lodge.
How to Get to Cape Horn Hike
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post on hiking Cape Horn. If you have any questions about this hike or others in the Columbia Gorge, please ask in the comments below.
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