Share:

Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike

Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Start Exploring
Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike

Share:

Advertisement
  • Wahtum Express sign.- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • Avalanche lilly (Erythronium montanum).- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • Some of the 250 wooden steps down to Wahtum Lake.- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis).- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • Unidentified species (help us identify it by providing feedback).- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • Walking down the wooden steps toward Wahtum Lake.- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • Wahtum Lake.- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis).- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • Rosy twisted stalk (Streptopus roseus).- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • Unidentified species (help us identify it by providing feedback).- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • The trail as it gradually climbs toward Chinidere Mountain.- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • Oregon sunshine (Eriophyllum lanatum).- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • Red columbine (Aquilegia Formosa).- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • Old-growth forest near Chindidere Mountain.- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • Bear grass (Xerophyllum tenax) covers the forest floor.- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • The junction with the Herman Creek Trail.- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • Indian paintbrush (Castilleja).- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • Nearing the summit of Chinidere Mountain.- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • The rocky trail to the summit of Chinidere Mountain.- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • Lupine.- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • The trail follows a ridge to the summit of Chinidere Mountain.- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • Mount St. Helens (8,365 ft), Mount Rainier (14,411 ft), and Mount Adams (12,281 ft) viewed from the top of Chinidere Mountain.- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • Mount St. Helens (8,365 ft) from Chinidere Mountain.- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • Mount Adams (12,281 ft) from Chinidere Mountain.- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • Tent sites on Chinidere Mountain.- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • Mount Hood (11,249 ft) from Chinidere Mountain.- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • A rocky outcropping on Chinidere Mountain.- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • The view down Eagle Creek Canyon from Chinidere Mountain.- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • Rock penstemon (Scrophulariaceae).- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • USGS marker on Chinidere Mountain.- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • The Chinidere Cutoff Trail leads down through the woods.- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • A pipe that was once used to supply water to the lakeside campsites.- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • Salamander in Wahtum Lake.- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • Wahtum Lake.- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • Logjam crossing on Wahtum Lake.- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • The blue waters of Wahtum Lake.- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • A view of Chinidere Mountain from Wahtum Lake.- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • Returning up the 250 wooden steps.- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
  • An incredible view of Mount Hood to the south.- Chinidere Mountain + Wahtum Lake Hike
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Wildflowers. Incredible views. Old-growth forest.
Cons: 
Long drive from Portland.
Advertisement
Region:
Columbia River Gorge, OR
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
753.00 ft (229.51 m)
Parking Pass: 
NW Forest Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
4.20 mi (6.76 km)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
3,946.00 ft (1,202.74 m)
Current Local Weather:
Advertisement
Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

The long drive and short time on this trail may deter some, but the view from the top of Chinidere Mountain is one of most spectacular in the area. On a clear day, you'll enjoy a 360-degree view of all the surrounding volcanoes, canyons, valleys, and even a bit of desert.

From the parking area, head toward the information sign through the campground and follow the signs for the Wahtum Express. This leads to 250 wooden steps that descend to the edge of Wahtum Lake. "Wahtum" is a local Native American word that translates to "pond" or "body of water." 

At the bottom of the stairs, look for a big tree with two Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) signs that stands next to a lakeside campsite. Turn right here to head north on the PCT. This is the beginning and end of the loop. Going left here would lead to a much steeper climb to the top.

The trail gradually climbs through a forest of hemlocks that is punctuated with an impressive array of wildflowers and different underbrush ranging from bunchberry, thimbleberry, vanilla leaf, columbine, huckleberry, and salomberry. Occasionally the trail crosses a tiny spring, and after about a mile the trail begins to meander through a more open forest with a beargrass-covered floor and a seemingly infinite number of trees. At 1.9 miles you will reach the junction with the Herman Creek Trail. 

Keep heading straight for another tenth of a mile to find the Chinidere Cutoff Trail that descends to the left, which will be the return route; continue another 100 feet and find a Chinidere Mountain sign and stay right to leave the PCT and begin the climb to the peak. You will gaining about 400 feet in just a third of a mile. Be sure to watch for a side trail that leads into the open at one of the first switchbacks. Take this detour to find a rocky scramble up the west side of the mountain and some interesting rock benches. Otherwise, continue on the true trail to reach the top.

The trail narrows as it climbs a ridge that is lush with wildflowers. Mount Hood becomes visible just as the trail reaches the ridge, and the breathtaking, 360-degree view can be fully enjoyed once the summit is reached. Look to the east to see Wahtum Lake and the Hood River Valley. To the left is Dalles Mountain and the deserts of Central Oregon. The big peak with all the radio towers is Mount Defiance, the highest point in the Columbia River Gorge, and to the left is Mount Adams. The ridge that sits just in front of Mount Adams is Tomlike Mountain, and off in the distance are Mount Rainer and Mount St. Helens. Down below to the west is Eagle Creek Canyon and Tanner Butte in the distance beyond. Look for rusty cables left over from an old Forest Service fire lookout and man made pits and tent sites constructed from the surrounding rocks.

To head back to the parking area, follow the trail back to the Chinidere Cutoff Trail that drops off to the right. It is a steep descent to the lake, and the trail will cross a stream or two depending on the time of year. A pipe that was once used to supply water to the some of the campsites on the north shore of the lake will become exposed on the way down. The trail passes several marked campsites before it crosses the East Fork of Eagle Creek on a logjam. The trail then intersects with the top of Eagle Creek National Recreation Trail. Stay left to continue around Wahtum lake, passing more campsites and a spot on the lake's shore that provides a view up to the peak of Chinidere Mountain. Find the steps back up the Wahtum Express to the parking area just past the big tree with the PCT signs.

Updates, Tips + Comments

Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide + Trail Map

Field Guide + Trail Map

Download
Advertisement
Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(47 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(179 within a 30 mile radius)

Advertisement
Related Content

Related Content

Adventure Community

Adventure Community

Who Wants To Do It
316 Members
Who's Done It
64 Members
Submission by
Contributor
28 Adventures Explored
16 Adventures Published
Contributor
110 Adventures Explored
68 Adventures Published

Newsletter Signup

Join the Outdoor Project Community

Get access to essential planning materials and information for your next adventure. Take a few seconds to join the community. It’s FREE!

Free Field Guides + Maps

Post Updates, Tips + Comments

Organize + Track Your Adventures

Insider Detailed Info, News + Benefits

Custom Driving Directions

Recommended Campsites, Photos + Reservation Info