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North Lake Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

North Lake (bobcat)
Harphan Creek, Wyeth Trail (bobcat)
Mt. Defiance from the Wyeth Trail (bobcat)
Devil's club berries, Wyeth Trail (bobcat)
Wyeth Trail to North Lake shown in red (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Topo
  • Start point: Wyeth TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: North Lake
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 12.8 miles
  • High Point: 3988 feet
  • Elevation gain: 4220 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Seasons: Summer into Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No
Poison Oak

Contents

Hike Description

NOTICE: Most trails on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge are closed until further notice because of damage from the Eagle Creek Fire. The closure involves ALL trails between Rooster Rock State Park and Hood River. It is anticipated that most of these trails may not reopen until Spring or Summer 2018. Please check the list of Columbia Gorge trail closures before you plan for a hike.

The steep hike up the Wyeth Trail to North Lake is another one of those vertical Gorge journeys that takes you from river level to montane forest in just a few miles. There are a few views across the Columbia to the Washington side but, in the main, this is a shady wooded excursion that offers some remarkable and lush old growth bench forest below North Lake before reaching that body of water. You can extend the outing by hiking on to Rainy Lake and Green Point Mountain and/or, if you have the legs, loop back to Herman Camp and take the Gorge Trail back to the Wyeth Trailhead.

The trail begins on an old road bed that heads south under Douglas-firs and bigleaf maples to the Gorge-Wyeth Trail Junction. To the right is the Gorton Creek footbridge. Go left at the junction on the Wyeth Trail #411. Walk under powerlines in a scrubby area sprouting oaks and ocean spray. The trail drops past a connecting trail from the Wyeth Campground. Cross the powerline corridor and head into woods to cross Harphan Creek, the wend up under maples and Douglas-firs. There is some poison oak for quite a considerable distance up the trail. There are four long switchbacks up to a small forested bench and then the trail heads up. A spur leads right down to a rusting water tank, one of this forest's decaying artifacts. The path swings right here and traverses up. There’s a switchback and the trail crosses a small scree slope with larger Douglas-firs. Switchback twice at a rock outcrop, getting a view of the Columbia through the trees. Under some large Douglas-firs, the understory is formed of hazel, vanilla leaf, bigleaf maple, vine maple, Oregon grape, and sword fern. Switchback and make a long traverse up to a stream, where the trail switchbacks again at some big Douglas-firs. The path switchbacks twice at a devil’s club choked creek, switchbacks again, crossing below a lush spring and then traverses a boulder slope with a view across the river to the mouth of the Wind River and Home Valley. The path reenters woods and rises to a grassy point, switchbacking five times to small grassy meadows on this steep ridge. Reenter the forest and switchback at a talus slope with more views to Home Valley. After two more switchbacks, cross a grassy slope. Silver and noble firs enter the mix at this elevation. Switchback twice before the trail enters the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness. After eight more switchbacks, head up a ridgecrest and then hike on the level in silver fir woods to reach the Wyeth-Green Point Ridge Trail Junction.

Go left here under silver firs with a carpet of bear-grass and huckleberry. The trail drops across a talus slope with a view east to Mount Defiance. Keep dropping and cross a second talus slope with a view east. The path continues to drop into lusher woods with large Douglas-firs, noble firs, silver firs, and western hemlocks. Pass across a lush, wet area and then head up past large noble firs. The trail continues up across Lindsey Creek. You can see the rock dam at North Lake above. Reach the Wyeth-North Lake Trail Junction and go right to the lake and the rock dam.

You can walk around the lake's eastern shore to find good campsites. Two tie trails lead back from the North Lake Trail to the Wyeth Trail, which continues for about three-quarters of a mile to the Upper Mount Defiance Trailhead.

Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Bonneville Dam, OR #429
  • Green Trails Maps: Columbia River Gorge - West #428S
  • Geo-Graphics: Trails of the Columbia Gorge
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
  • Discover Your Northwest: Mt. Hood National Forest North
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Hood River Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest

Regulations or restrictions, etc

  • Northwest Forest Pass required at trailhead

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Day Hiking: Columbia River Gorge by Craig Romano
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • One Night Wilderness: Portland by Douglas Lorain
  • Hiking the Columbia River Gorge by Russ Schneider
  • 70 Virtual Hikes of the Columbia River Gorge by Northwest Hiker
  • A Walking Guide to Oregon's Ancient Forests by Wendell Wood
  • Columbia Gorge Hikes: 42 Scenic Hikes by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • 35 Hiking Trails: Columbia River Gorge by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • 70 Hiking Trails: Northern Oregon Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • 100 Oregon Hiking Trails by Don & Roberta Lowe

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.