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Labyrinth-Coyote Wall Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

(Redirected from Labyrinth Loop Hike)
Upper Labyrinth Falls in the Labyrinth (bobcat)
Poet's shooting star (Dodecatheon poeticum), Labyrinth (bobcat)
At Labyrinth Creek, Labyrinth (bobcat)
Desert parsley fringe, Coyote Wall (bobcat)
Horned lark (Eremophila alpestris) at Coyote Wall (bobcat)
Naked broomrape (Orobanche uniflora), Coyote Wall (bobcat)
Vernal pool on Little Maui, Labyrinth (bobcat)
The loop described outlined in yellow (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps


Hike Description

When it’s raining in Portland in late March, April or May, taking a drive east of Hood River is almost sure to get you beyond the tempests and into sunny climes. One of the premier spring hikes in southwestern Washington, this loop takes you through a geological wonderland, the scablands and waterfalls of the Labyrinth up to grassy meadows with views to Columbia Gorge high points and Mount Hood. Then you’ll traverse through oak woods and across meadows to reach the imposing cliffs of Coyote Wall, known to geologists as the Bingen Anticline and to mountain bikers as the Syncline (The geologists are the ones using the correct terminology). Hiking down the wall, you not only get views down to the oak/ponderosa woodland below but again obtain commanding vistas across the Columbia River to Oregon. The last leg of this outstanding loop takes you on the winding course of the Little Maui Trail as it negotiates the western edges of the Labyrinth. In spring, expert botanizers should be able to spot at least 70 species in bloom along these trails. Most junctions were officially signposted as of 2018. Note that dogs must be on leash in this area from December 1st to June 30th.

Note that you can also begin this hike from the Coyote Wall Trailhead, but the loop description below begins at the Labyrinth Trailhead.

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. 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 known as Accordion Rock (and to local climbers as Wankers Columns). 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 to 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 February 2018), 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 stopping spot. Scan the skies for soaring vultures, red-tailed hawks, and bald eagles. From the viewpoint, the trail winds up in and out of an oak woodland and crosses an open meadow with views down the Labyrinth to the Columbia River and Mosier. The path loops up a grassy expanse with frasera, cryptantha, bare-stem desert parsley, and death-camas to arrive at the Atwood Road-Upper Labyrinth Trail Junction.

You can go right here about 50 yards and then off-trail to your left a few yards to check out the remains of an old homestead. Then return to Atwood Road to continue west through an oak wood. Reach an open slope, and follow Atwood Road, here just a narrow track, to cross a creek. You’ll pass a post that marks the upper end of the former Hidden Valley Trail, now decommissioned, and then enter oaks again to reach a new footbridge over Labyrinth Creek. Soon after this come to a complex set of junctions where you’ll keep straight and exit the oaks at the Atwood Road-Old Ranch Road Trail Junction (Before the signed junction, a single track trail leads up through the oaks for a shortcut across the private property of the Burns Farm to the top of Coyote Wall). There’s a sign nearby on the road leading up to a house telling you where private property is.

Head left on Old Ranch Road Trail #4426 past a copse of larger oaks, and descend the hillside to get far-reaching views to Mount Hood and major Columbia River Gorge prominences in-between. You’ll pass along the east side of a meadow before traversing west through a band of oaks and arriving at the Old Ranch Road-Coyote Wall Traverse Trail Junction. From here, go right to continue the traverse across a grassy slope and cross a low footbridge. The trail then switchbacks up twice, weaving in and out of the oaks and passing below a meadow where a couple of boats (!) are parked. At the next switchback, look to the oak-shaded draw on your left to see an old rock dam that backs up a small pond. Keep left at the junction with a connector trail that drops down from the western edge of the Burns Farm. Recross the draw, and traverse an open slope before reaching the Coyote Wall-Coyote Wall Traverse Trail Junction, marked with a post that has no sign (as of 2018).

Here go right to head straight up the slope on an old jeep track. You’ll cross a cutoff trail that comes from the vicinity of the Demi Anni Vineyards, and then arrive at a loop in the rough road track that appears briefly from the woods: This is the western end of the trail that crosses the Burns Farm. Keep going a few more yards to a lone ponderosa at the Coyote Wall Upper Viewpoint. This is a great picnic spot although you’ll need to look out for ticks in the spring. There’s a view up to the northern rim of the wall and expansive views across the Columbia River to Mount Defiance and Mount Hood.

When you’re ready to finish the loop, take the southern section of the Crybaby Trail, which hugs the edge of the wall and gives you views down into the oak/ponderosa woods below: The trails down there are now off-limits as they cross private land in places. The views are glorious all the way down and, close at hand, balsamroot and pungent desert parsley bloom in clumps while vultures whoosh by as they capture the thermals. You may see a small plaque memorializing a mountain biker who got too close to the edge here. The Crybaby Trail joins the Coyote Wall Trail near the Coyote Wall-Coyote Wall Traverse Trail Junction, and the former trail keeps dropping through fields of buttercup and balsamroot. Hike down through a gathering of young ponderosa pines, and pass through a fence line. After winding farther down an open slope, come to the Coyote Wall-Old Ranch Road Trail Junction.

Go right through a gap in a fence and, after about 60 yards, reach the Old Ranch Road-Little Moab Trail Junction. Here, make a right to get another cliff-edge view at the Coyote Wall Viewpoint, and then return to keep on Old Ranch Road as it traverses a lovely open meadow blooming in the spring with naked broomrape, saxifrage, popcorn flower, bi-colored lupine, and desert parsley. Come to the Old Ranch Road-Little Maui Trail Upper Junction, and keep left on the latter trail to cross Little Maui Creek with its distinctive gnarly oak tree. (Note that Little Maui is a narrow trail and a favorite descent route for bikers, so watch your back; the area also has its resident population of rattlesnakes.) Loop around, and descend through a defile to come out on the open slope again. The trail then winds down with Little Maui Creek to your right. Duck under a large spreading big-leaf maple, and loop again at a vernal pool that will be dry by mid-summer. Swing away from the creek again, and pass another side trail to a vernal pool and viewpoint towards the ramparts of the Labyrinth. You’ll pass near Little Maui Falls: the area near the creek is being restored, so please don’t approach the falls. You'll pass the junction with the 0.2 mile connector trail that leads back to the Labyrinth Trail - another option for your return. Otherwise, keep right to cross Little Maui Creek on a plank, and come to the four-way Old Ranch Road-Little Maui Trail Lower Junction.

The direct route here is to simply go straight to cut off a switchback in Old Ranch Road. The path will take you down to the gabioned fence posts at the Highway 8-Old Ranch Road Trail Junction. Make a left to head back to the Labyrinth Trailhead with both the railroad and Highway 14 below you.


Regulations or restrictions, etc

  • Stay on trails
  • Share trails with mountain bikes
  • Dogs on leash December 1st to June 30th
  • $3.50 toll each way at Hood River Bridge

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Oregon Hiking by Matt Wastradowski
  • Washington Hiking by Craig Hill
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Craig Hill & Matt Wastradowski
  • 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


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.

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