Dog Mountain Hike
From Oregon Hikers Field Guide
- Start point: Dog Mountain Trailhead
- End point: Dog Mountain
- Trail Log: Trail Log
- Hike type: Modified Loop
- Distance: 6.9 miles
- Elevation gain: 2800 feet
- Difficulty: Difficult
- Seasons: Spring-Fall
- Family Friendly: No
- Backpackable: No
- Crowded: Yes
Dog Mountain is a popular hike due to its easy access in the Gorge, beautiful views, and relatively short distance. Don't let the distance and low elevation fool you, however, the trails are very steep and will require some fitness and perseverance. This loop is known for prime wildflower viewing in May and June, but hikes in the summer and fall are rewarding as well. For a moderate hike, you can walk 1.5 miles up to the lower viewpoint. For the more difficult hike detailed here, go all the way to the summit and loop back down. It is even possible to continue to Augspurger Mountain from this area.
This hike is extremely popular and the parking area fills early. To avoid frustration, try to arrive before 8:00 a.m. or after 5:00 p.m. between March and October.
Starting from the Dog Mountain Trailhead, hike steeply up through the woods along Trail 147 for 0.7 miles to a junction. The open forest floor in this lower section is filled with poison oak, so stay on the trail. At this first junction, an older version of the trail, marked "more difficult" veers left and the newer, "less difficult" trail is off to the right. The older steeper route has little to offer over the newer version. Follow the "less difficult" trail to the right as it travels up 1.2 miles to the lower viewpoint. Rest here and absorb the views of the Gorge if it's not too windy.
If you're headed for the summit, continue up the trail another half mile, where you will come to the junction where the old trail meets the new one. Though the trail gets even steeper, you'll soon begin to glimpse the summit meadows through the trees. In late spring the site of the yellow balsamroot is usually enough to power your legs as you proceed nearly another half mile to an old fire lookout spot. Here, you can again appreciate the stunning views of the Oregon side of the Gorge.
From here, two trails go to the top creating a loop. The main trail continues off to the left, towards a meadow notorious for being pummeled by high winds. In about 4/10 of a mile you'll come to a signed junction. Continue up, on the right hand trail which is the Summit Loop Trail. At the top of the meadow, follow a short spur trail to a fire ring and a nice, flat area good for taking a snack break and celebrating the end of the uphill walking. Mount Hood just peaks over Mount Defiance in the south. You can return the way you came, or continue southeast on the Summit Loop Trail into the woods and meet the main trail back down at Puppy Dog Lookout. This alternate is not as scenic, but is more sheltered and can be a good choice if you are hiking in poor weather. The trail also has a more stable walking surface with fewer loose rocks.
From Puppy Dog Lookout, you can return via either "more" or "less" difficult routes to the trailhead.
You can also return via the Augspurger Trail, see Dog Mountain Loop Hike.
Fees, Regulations, etc.
- A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park here.
- Search Trip Reports for Dog Mountain
Related Discussions / Q&A
- Search Trail Q&A for Dog Mountain
Guidebooks that cover this hike
- 60 Hikes within 60 Miles of Portland, by Paul Gerald
- 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington, by William Sullivan