Home  •   Field Guide  •   Forums  •    Unread Posts  •   Maps  •   Find a Hike!
| Page | Discussion | View source | History | Print Friendly and PDF

Dog Mountain Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Dog Mountain Summit Meadow in late May (Steve Hart)
Ball-head cluster lily (Dichelostemma congestum), Dog Mountain (bobcat)
Starvation Ridge from Dog Mountain (bobcat)
Balsamroot on the Dog Mountain Trail (Steve Hart)
View west from Dog Mountain to Wind Mountain (jhiggy)
Dog Mountain topo map, with GPS track. The Cascade Crest Trail shown on this map is no longer there. The current Pacific Crest Trail is much farther west, at Icehouse Lake Trailhead.
  • Start point: Dog Mountain TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Dog Mountain
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike type: Modified Loop
  • Distance: 6.9 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2800 feet
  • High point: 2,948 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All year, except during exceptional snowfall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes, in spring and summer


Hike Description

Dog Mountain is a popular hike due to its easy access right off Highway 14, beautiful views, spring wildflower displays, 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. In winter, there is often snow on the summit but the magic of an uncrowded perch offers its own delight. For an easier 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. The trail up Dog Mountain is the original route of the Cascade Crest Trail, which became the Pacific Crest Trail, on the Washington side of the Columbia River.

This hike is extremely popular and the parking area fills early. To avoid frustration, even on weekdays, try to arrive before 8:00 a.m. or after 5:00 p.m. between March and July.

Permits for the Dog Mountain Trail System are required on Saturdays and Sundays between April 29th and June 18th, 2023, as well as Memorial Day (May 29th) and Juneteenth (June 19th). There are 90 permits available for online reservation, with some available from March 15th, while others open up three days ahead of each weekend. You can reserve your permit by visiting Dog Mountain Trail System Permits.

Starting from the Dog Mountain Trailhead, hike steeply up through the white oak/ponderosa pine woods on 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. Ball-head cluster lily, cryptantha, and lupine bloom trailside in the spring. 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 in Douglas-fir/oak woods to the lower viewpoint. Rest at the viewpoint and absorb the views of the Gorge and the upper slopes of Dog Mountain if it's not too windy.

If you're headed for the summit, continue up the trail another half mile. Exit a clearing with spring-blooming blooming serviceberry, rosy plectritis, death-camas, and prairie star, and enter slope forest again. In a few minutes, you'll come to the junction where the old trail meets the new one. Make a right here. 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 Columbia River 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 the signed junction with the Summit Loop Trail. 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 to the south. The actual summit of Dog Mountain can be reached via a short spur into the woods above.

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 (You can also return via the Augspurger Trail: see the Dog Mountain Loop Hike). If you're descending via the Dog Mountain Trail, you can choose the steeper "old" trail when you reach the upper junction for the loop. This makes for a rapid descent in dark woods where poison oak becomes more obvious as you get lower. From the lower junction, make a right to return to the trailhead.


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Hood River, OR #430
  • Green Trails Maps: Columbia River Gorge - West #428S
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service/Bureau of Land Management: Columbia River Gorge
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Adams Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Gifford Pinchot National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Northwest Forest Pass (or America the Beautiful Pass) required to park at the Dog Mountain Trailhead.
  • On weekends between April 29th and June 18th, 2023, as well as Memorial Day (May 29th) and Juneteenth (June 19th), a trail permit for each vehicle ($2.00) is required in addition to the Northwest Forest Pass; order in advance at Dog Mountain Trail System Permits beginning March 15th. Additional permits will become avaiialble three days in advance of each weekend. Only 90 parking permits are available per day for those using the parking area at Dog Mountain Trailhead.
  • Those taking the Dog Mountain Shuttle have the cost of the permit included in the their ticket; shuttle users do not need to order in advance.
  • Restrooms, picnic table, information kiosk
  • $3 toll each way at the Bridge of the Gods

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Washington Hiking by Craig Hill
  • Day Hikes in the Columbia Gorge by Don J. Scarmuzzi
  • 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland by Paul Gerald
  • PDX Hiking 365 by Matt Reeder
  • Washington Wildflower Hikes by Nathan Barnes & Jeremy Barnes
  • Oregon's Best Wildflower Hikes: Northwest Region by George Wuerthner
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan
  • Trips & Trails: Oregon by William L. Sullivan
  • Oregon Favorites: Trails & Tales by William L. Sullivan
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • Best Outdoor Adventures Near Portland, Oregon by Adam Sawyer
  • Take a Hike: Portland by Barbara I. Bond
  • Day Hiking: Columbia Gorge by Craig Romano
  • Curious Gorge by Scott Cook
  • Best Wildflower Hikes: Western Washington by Peter Stekel
  • Best Wildflower Hikes: Washington by Art Kruckeberg with Karen Sykes & Craig Romano
  • Hiking the Columbia River Gorge by Russ Schneider; revised by Jim Yuskavitch
  • Day Hike! Columbia Gorge by Seabury Blair, Jr.
  • Columbia Gorge Getaways by Laura O. Foster
  • Columbia River Gorge: 42 Scenic Hikes by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • 35 Hiking Trails: Columbia River Gorge by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • 70 Virtual Hikes of the Columbia River Gorge by Northwest Hiker
  • 95 Virtual Hikes of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument by Northwest Hiker
  • Washington Hiking by Scott Leonard
  • Washington's Columbia Riveer Gorge: Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Scott Leonard
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Scott Leonard & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Best Trail Runs: Portland, Oregon by Adam W. Chase, Nancy Hobbs, & Yassine Dibboun
  • Best Hikes With Dogs: Western Washington by Dan A. Nelson

More Links

Page 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.