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Dog Mountain Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Balsamroot blooming on Dog Mountain (Steve Hart)
On the Augspurger Mountain Trail in the spring (bobcat)
Harsh paintbrush (Castilleja hispida), Augspurger Trail (bobcat)
Red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa), Augspurger Trail (bobcat)
Hikers on the Dog Mountain Trail (bobcat)
Spotted coral root (Corallorhiza maculata), Dog Mountain (bobcat)
Map of the Route
  • Start point: Dog Mountain TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Dog Mountain
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike type: Loop
  • Distance: 7.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2800 feet
  • High point: 2,948 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Year round, except during winter storms
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes, especially in spring and summer


Hike Description

This hike starts at the Dog Mountain Trailhead but takes a gentler loop using the Augspurger Trail to reach the summit. Breaks in the tree cover on this western slope of Dog Mountain offer views over the small lakes of the Collins Creek basin to Wind Mountain. This loop is known for prime wildflower viewing in May and June, when the upper slopes erupt in a blazing carpet of blooming balsamroot, with lupine and paintbrush in accompaniment. However, hikes in the summer and fall are rewarding as well; in winter, there is often snow on the summit but the route is uncrowded and wind sculpted ice formations can be a surprise treat. Be prepared for freezing, flesh-penetrating winds, however!

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.

The Augspurger Trail #4407 starts climbing immediately out of the parking lot. Poison oak lines the trail as you head up into Douglas-fir woods and then a mixed forest that includes oak and big-leaf maple. At a scree slope, you'll get a vista down to Grant Lake and across the Columbia River to Shellrock Mountain. From the next scree slope, a woodland dotted with small lakes can be seen below, while Wind Mountain looms behind. Pass a couple more openings with similar views. Trailside, there are wildflowers galore, especially cryptantha, white western groundsel, thread-leaf phacelia, ball-head cluster lily, and nine-leaf desert-parsley. Then come to deeper Douglas-fir woods with Oregon grape, fringe-cup, star flower, and hazel in the understory. The trail rises consistently in this long traverse. Cross another open scree slope, and then reenter the woods to make two switchbacks. After you round the nose of the ridge, you'll come to the junction with the Dog-Augspurger Tie Trail.

Turn right, and cross small meadows of balsamroot, larkspur, and white western groundsel. The trail reenters woods to ascend a ridge where the tread can be muddy. At an opening above a steep meadow, you'll look down on Wind Mountain and then switchback up in Douglas-fir/silver fir woods with a few noble firs. The trail switchbacks again and traverses across the open south flank of Dog Mountain in glorious flower meadows dominated by balsamroot. Mount Defiance, which retains patches of snow late into the spring, lies across the way. Balsamroot, larkspur, paintbrush, rock penny cress, prairie star, buttercup, phlox, blue-eyed Mary, chickweed, long-spurred violet, and chocolate lily flower on this slope. Come to a signed junction with the Summit Loop Trail, and make a left to reach the top of the meadow with its commanding views. Look for a short spur that leads into the trees here to find the real, but viewless, summit of Dog Mountain.

To continue on the loop, follow the trail across the top of the meadow to where it swings into the woods on the east slope of Dog Mountain. The trail switchbacks, descends, and switchbacks again on a forested ridge. This section of trail all the way to the parking lot was the route of the old Cascade Crest Trail, which became the Pacific Crest Trail, until that trail was rerouted from the Bridge of the Gods. You'll emerge from the woods at Puppy Dog Lookout, once the site of a fire lookout. Here, you can again appreciate the stunning views of the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. From the lookout site, descend a balsamroot meadow, and switchback three times in shady woods to reach the junction. You have a choice here: the shorter, steeper, entirely forested option is to your right; the more scenic but longer route is to your left.

Taking the longer route (to your left), gradually descend to reach a clearing with spring-blooming blooming serviceberry, rosy plectritis, death-camas, and prairie star. Emerge at the trail's lower viewpoint to get more sweeping Gorge views. Then continue to switchback down through woods of Oregon white oak, Douglas-fir, and big-leaf maple. Poison oak abounds here. Eventually, you'll reach the lower junction with the shortcut option and keep left.

Switchback down in oak woods. Trailside blooms include ball-head cluster lily, lupine, and cryptantha. The trail makes many tighter switchbacks as ponderosa pines appear among the oaks. Finally, you'll walk past a restroom, picnic table and information kiosk into the parking area.


  • 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

  • Day Hikes in the Columbia Gorge by Don J. Scarmuzzi
  • Washington Wildflower Hikes by Nathan Barnes & Jeremy Barnes
  • 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland by Paul Gerald
  • PDX Hiking 365 by Matt Reeder
  • Oregon Hiking by Matt Wastradowski
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Craig Hill & Matt Wastradowski
  • Oregon's Best Wildflower Hikes: Northwest Region by George Wuerthner
  • Best Wildflower Hikes: Washington by Art Kruckeberg with Karen Sykes & Craig Romano
  • 100 Hikes: Northwest Oregon 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
  • 100 Classic Hikes: Washington by Craig Romano
  • Curious Gorge by Scott Cook
  • 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

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.