How to Get to Dog Mountain Hike

I LOVE Dog Mountain, & have hiked it more than five times since moving to Portland.  Basically, we hike it every spring.  From late April through June, Dog Mountain is THE best hike, as the mountainside erupts with wildflowers that cascade down towards the Columbia River.  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 you’re ready to go, let’s find out how to get to Dog Mountain hike! 

**Author’s Note: Article updated as of December 2022.

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

It doesn’t get much prettier! We’re 3/4 up the mountain here, on the steepest “center” trail.

Map of 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 let’s talk about the hike itself.  There are three different routes up the mountain.  If you’re in the parking lot, facing the mountain: the trailhead on the left (closest to the parking lot) is the longest but easiest route up the mountain, with the gentlest incline.  Translation: if you have bad knees, take this trail up, & definitely take it down the mountain.  I always take this trail down, mainly for the views ~ but also because the other two are so steep.

If you want more of a challenge going up, head to the right side of the parking lot & climb a small, steep hill 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.

Guide to Hiking Dog Mountain in Washington, Girl Who Travels the World

The first part of the “steep” way up looks like this: you’re in a shaded forest, with no views. And it’s STEEP.

I usually go up the steepest way (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.

Guide to Hiking Dog Mountain in Washington, Girl Who Travels the World

Once you break out of the trees though: you start to get crazy views like this…

Guide to Hiking Dog Mountain in Washington, Girl Who Travels the World

Even the dogs will appreciate the view.

Guide to Hiking Dog Mountain in Washington, Girl Who Travels the World

VIEWS.

Guide to Hiking Dog Mountain in Washington, Girl Who Travels the World

Some of my favorite photos of my dog Dylan were taken on this hike…

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. This photo was taken at the very TOP!

Photos of Dog Mountain Hike in Washington, Girl Who Travels the World

This photo was taken as we’re starting our descent, on the LONG way down (far left trail, if you’re in parking lot looking at the mountain).

Photos of Dog Mountain Hike in Washington, Girl Who Travels the World

Forest & river views on the way down are classic PNW beauty.

Photos of Dog Mountain Hike in Washington, Girl Who Travels the World

Everyone who lives in Oregon & Washington needs to do the Dog Mountain hike at least ONCE: it’s one of the most photogenic hikes in the PNW.

Where to Stay & Drink

Skamania Lodge is a famous hotel in Washington, & a popular getaway for Portland’ers.  If this hike knocks the stuffing out of you, grab a beer & some food up at their beautiful lodge.  Or stay a night & turn it into a little staycation.  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 give you great post-hike relief.

Dining Guide for Hood River, Oregon, Girl Who Travels the World

The scene at Pfriem Family Brewers on a busy summer afternoon, in Hood River.

Great Hikes Nearby

After hiking Dog Mountain, I doubt you’ll want to attempt another hike.  But, if it’s too hard, or too crowded: try hiking Cape Horn (on the Washington side as well, but closer to Vancouver), or the difficult Hamilton Mountain.  Both hikes are on the Washington side, off of Highway 14, closer to Portland.  Neither are as steep as Dog Mountain, but you’ll still get 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 PNW hike!  Have you done this hike before?  Did you like it, or was it too steep for you?  Let me know in the comments!

Happy Adventuring! 

xoxo Noelia 

Read Next: How to Get to Cape Horn Hike in Washington

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