How to Get to Dog Mountain Hike!

I LOVE Dog Mountain, & have done it no less than five times since moving to Portland.  Basically, every spring.  From late April through June, Dog Mountain is THE best hike, as the mountainside erupts with wildflowers.  And views of the Columbia Gorge are staggeringly gorgeous, 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.  But if not, read on & find out how to get to Dog Mountain hike!

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 Dog Mountain 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 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.


Dog Mountain Info & Photos

Now that we’ve figured out how to get to Dog Mountain hike, let’s talk about the hike itself.  There are three different routes up the mountain here.  If you’re in the parking lot, facing the mountain: the trailhead on the left (closest to the parking lot) is going to be the longest but easiest route up the mountain, with the gentlest incline.  Translation: if you have bad knees, take this trail up, & definitely down the mountain (I always take this trail down, for the views & because the others are too steep).

If you want more of a challenge going up, head to the right side of the parking lot & climb a small, steep hill up to the bathrooms.  After the bathrooms, keep heading up, & in less than half a mile, the trail splits: the trail on the far right is “intermediate,” aka still really damn hard, & the trail to the left (which is really the “center” trail) will be the shortest, steepest option.  

I usually go the steep way up (both for the challenge & to get it over with), & then come down the long way, which is much easier on my knees, & gives you great & different views towards the west.  

How to Get to Dog Mountain Hike, Girl Who Travels the World

Me & Dylan 3/4 up the mountain, on the steepest “center” trail.

How to Get to Dog Mountain Hike, Girl Who Travels the World

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

How to Get to Dog Mountain Hike, Girl Who Travels the World

Wildflowers as far as the eye can see…every spring.

How to Get to Dog Mountain Hike, Girl Who Travels the World

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

Where to Stay & Drink!

Skamania Lodge is a famous hotel in Washington, & popular getaway for Portland’ers.  If this hike knocks the stuffing out of you, grab a beer & a some grub up at the lodge.  Or stay a night & turn it into a getaway.  Otherwise, you can always cross back over the Bridge of the Gods & head into Hood River.  There are tons of great restaurants & breweries that will provide ample post-hike relief.  

Great Hikes Nearby!

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

For a more complete list of Columbia River Gorge hikes ~ click here.  

How to Get to Dog Mountain Hike!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post on Dog Mountain ~ my favorite Oregon 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 Dog Mountain before?  Did you like it, or was it too steep for you?  And did you take your dog?! 

Let me know in the comments!

Happy Adventuring! 

xoxo Noelia 

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