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Labyrinth Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Columnar outcropping, The Labyrinth (bobcat)
Ball-head waterleaf (Hydrophyllum capitatum), The Labyrinth (Steve Hart)
Labyrinth Falls (Steve Hart)
Grass widows are common here (Steve Hart)
The route through the Labyrinth in yellow (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Labyrinth TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Rowland Basin Viewpoint
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: Out and Back
  • Distance: 3.6 miles
  • High Point: 1,005 feet
  • Elevation gain: 915 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes
Poison Oak
Snakes
Ticks

Contents

Hike Description

The hike into the Labyrinth is one of the gems of the Washington Gorge and, while it is popular, it doesn't quite get the crowds of the Coyote Wall Hike. The Labyrinth Trail winds its way up through this maze of basalt outcroppings in a thin-soiled landscape scoured by the Missoula Floods at the end of the last ice age. Labyrinth Creek and its waterfall is one feature; spring wildflowers are another; and the hike ends at a viewpoint that takes in much of the east Gorge as well as Mount Hood. Poison oak is rampant in these environs, however, and with an official trail system now in place, make sure you stay on the designated paths.

Walk west along an abandoned section of former Highway 8 below basalt cliffs. Cross a rock slide and pass Lower Labyrinth Falls, which splash down over the road cutting: this two-tiered falls was created when both the old and new alignments of the highway were blasted. Monkey flower, pungent desert parsley, fiddleneck, and prairie star bloom here in the spring. Approach another cutting: to the left is a grassy promontory that hosts a population of cluster lilies and offers views downriver to Mosier as well as up the rugged landscape of the Labyrinth.

Just beyond the promontory is the Highway 8-Labyrinth Trail Junction. Wind up the Labyrinth Trail #4423, keeping right at a junction to enter the Labyrinth’s maze of basalt outcroppings. Pass under a ponderosa pine to drop into a hollow, and then follow Labyrinth Creek up past where it plunges through a narrow defile on the right. You’ll pass by Labyrinth Cave on your left and then you can take a side trail to get a better view of Labyrinth Falls. Switchback up twice to get a view of Labyrinth Falls’ upper tier, and then cross Labyrinth Creek on a single plank bridge. Hike up under oaks and then through a meadow under a palisade of columnar basalt. To your left, Labyrinth Creek funnels through another gorge. Enter an oak wood that is carpeted with lupine, buttercups, and poison oak. Exit the woods and wind up to a T-junction at a fence and telephone line. Go left here (The trail to the right is unofficial), and head up the slope, now getting views upriver to the Columbia Hills. Swing right to pass under the phone line and through the fence line and get a vista down to Rowland Lake, the Rowland Wall, and across the river to the Rowena Plateau. Mount Hood stands out to the southwest.

Reach the Labyrinth-Upper Labyrinth-Desert Parsley Trail Junction (unsigned in Spring, 2017), and go left up the grassy slope through clumps of poison oak. Cross a trickling creek and rise to the Rowland Basin Viewpoint at a grassy picnic spot. The viewpoint offers sweeping views east to the Columbia Hills, Sevenmile Hill, the Rowena Gap, and McCall Point. The Memaloose Hills are across the Columbia River, and Memaloose Island is just to the east. Below are the rubbly hollows of the Rowland Basin and the cove of Rowland Lake. Views west include the Labyrinth, Mount Defiance, and Mount Hood. Scan the skies for soaring vultures, red-tailed hawks, and bald eagles. After admiring the scenery, return downhill the way you came. For those interested in a longer loop, see the Labyrinth-Coyote Wall Loop Hike.


Maps

Regulations or restrictions, etc

  • Stay on trails
  • Share trails with mountain bikes
  • Dogs on leash: December 1st to June 30th
  • $1 toll at Hood River Bridge

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland by Paul Gerald
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan
  • Day Hikes in the Columbia Gorge by Don J. Scarmuzzi
  • Day Hiking: Columbia River Gorge by Craig Romano
  • Take a Hike: Portland by Barbara I. Bond
  • Columbia Gorge Getaways by Laura O. Foster
  • Curious Gorge by Scott Cook

More Links


Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.