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Devils Hole/Three Benches Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

This page is marked as a Lost Hike. The "trail" may be dangerous and hard to follow and is not recommended for beginning hikers without an experienced leader. Carry detailed maps of the whole area and/or a GPS unit and compass.
Looking to The Dalles, Devils Hole (bobcat)
Narrow-leaved skullcap (Scutellaria angustifolia), Devils Hole (bobcat)
Western bench, Devils Hole (bobcat)
Ortley Pinnacles, Devils Hole (bobcat)
The approximate off-trail route on three benches at the Devils Hole, Rowena Gap (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Doug's Beach TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Ortley Lava Pillars
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 2.7 miles round trip
  • High point: 670 feet
  • Elevation gain: 800 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Year round: Spring is best
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

Doug's Beach State Park is a windsurfer's launch spot and also a landing platform for paragliders who take off from the publicly owned slopes high above the Rowena Gap. It is to the lower benches of these slopes that this off-trail excursion takes you: the land here was scoured by the Bretz (Missoula) Floods but it is a wildflower paradise that also offers sweeping vistas from the Rowena Gap to The Dalles. You're likely to encounter deer, and rattlesnakes are possible, but your adversary of the day will be poison oak: it flourishes here, in and among the interesting rock formations, and you need to know how to recognize (and avoid) it before you begin scrambling around. This is a short excursion, off-trail, but not as easy as the mileage suggests. Do not venture too far east or west or you will be intruding on private property.

From the east end of the parking area, walk 300 yards east and find a concrete culvert on the north side of the highway. Clamber up and out of the rocky gully that feeds this culvert and head across a grassy expanse towards a basalt face. Watch for poison oak everywhere! Head up to the left under the basalt cliff and make your way through clumps of poison oak, big root, and chokecherry to a steep, grassy slope which is a break in the rimrock cliffs. Scramble up here and find a rock cairn.

From the cairn, head left and continue to rise to a grassy bench. You can pick up an old cattle trail here and continue hiking west. Drop into a gully and find a way across where there is less poison oak. Cross the draw, which is usually dry by mid-spring, and head up to a small bench. Rise from this ledge to a larger bench with a single oak tree at the base of a scree slope. Walk to the western edge of this bench and get a side-on view of the Ortley Pinnacles. Look down to your left and see the Ortley Lava Pillars on the rimrock. You can follow a deer trail down these and then return to the bench as you will have reached the western boundary of public land.

From the east side of the bench, head up a gully and find a place to cross that doesn’t involve massaging yourself with poison oak. Find a deer trail out of this oak-shaded gully, which blooms with lupine in the spring. Look up to see a slope studded with strangely-shaped blocks of basalt. Balsamroot, big root, and lupine flower in the meadows. Dip and reach a flat bench. Find the southeast slope of this bench, which points towards Crates Point and The Dalles, and drop down the steep slope towards a gully. At the bottom of the slope, angle right before reaching the gully and find the cairn that marks the descent route to Highway 14.


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Columbia River Gorge - East #432S (no trail marked)

Regulations or restrictions, etc

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Curious Gorge by Scott Cook

More Links


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.