When it comes to hiking in the Columbia River Gorge, Dog Mountain is a legendary destination, and rightly so. This Washington hike offers stunning views of the gorge and far beyond. You'll see Washington and Oregon Cascade peaks such as Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens, a healthy variety of forest and alpine meadow flora, and, if you hike in middle May through early June, you’ll be presented with one of the best wildflower displays in the entire Columbia River Gorge.
From the parking lot there are several options for your ascent. The older Dog Mountain Trail leaves from a trailhead on the east end of the parking lot, is steep, and passes through more of the mountain’s iconic wildflower meadows. The newer Dog Mountain Hiking Trail starts at a trailhead in the middle of the parking lot, has a less intense incline, and spends more of its time in the woods. Our recommendation: take the older trail up while you have fresh energy and enjoy the Cascade and Columbia River Gorge views you came for, but then make a loop out of the hike by taking the newer trail on your descent. This will add variety to your experience, and your knees will be sure to thank you. From the beginning, be sure to keep your eye out for poison oak, as it dots the lower elevation portions of the trail. Also, if you're there at the right time of year, be sure to catch the tiny fairyslippers in bloom, one of the magnificent orchid species in Washington and Oregon. At higher elevations you are sure to see the golden fields of arrowleaf balsamroot and arctic lupine.
Note that there is an existing day use fee of $5, and a new permit system is effective for weekend hikers from March 31 through July 1. More information is available here.