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Jim OP | 04.27.2016

Short stretches of fair weather and warmer temperatures have made it clear that spring has arrived. Although it is only early April, change is already taking shape on the sun-kissed south-facing slopes of the Columbia River Gorge, particularly those on the eastern end.

That's right, wildflowers are starting to pop out! So, hikers, sightseers, visitors and photographers get ready, because now is the time to start planning your next outing.

Everyone knows that Dog Mountain and the Mosier Plateau are guaranteed treasure troves for wildflowers, and if you've never ventured to either location, they should be on your TO-DO list. These locations tend to attract crowds, however, so for those of you who are looking for what's next, we've outlined nine lesser-known hikes/locations in the Portland area that will not disappoint!

Oregon (west to east):

  1. Bald Butte Hike
  2. Tom McCall Point Hike
  3. Deschutes River, Ferry Springs

Washington (west to east):

  1. Little Hamilton Mountain Hike
  2. Coyote Wall Hike
  3. Catherine Creek Hike
  4. Klickitat Trail via Lyle Trailhead
  5. Klickitat Trail via Harms Road Trailhead
  6. Lyle Cherry Orchard Hike
  7. Columbia Hills Historical State Park (Dalles Mountain Hike)

When to go? Glacier lily and some other species will be out as early as mid-April. The overall best time is the last week of May and the first week of June, when bold yellow fields of balsamroot and purple lupine blanket most south-facing fields. The balsamroot will last until mid-June, while the lupine flowers will start dropping very quickly even in the first week.

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