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Wygant Peak Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Dog and Wind Mountains from the Wygant Trail (Tom Kloster)
The trip begins in the imposing shadow of Mitchell Point (Tom Kloster)
Pearhip rose (Rosa woodsii), Wygant Trail (bobcat)
One of Basil Clark's Chetwoot Loop signs along the way (Tom Kloster)
Oaks and balsamroot above Perham Creek, Wygant Trail (bobcat)
The view west to distant Table Mountain from the Wygant Trail (Tom Kloster)
Orange honeysuckle (Lonicera ciliosa), Wygant Trail (bobcat)
Above the Upper Viewpoint, Wygant Trail (bobcat)
WygantTrailMap.jpg
  • Start point: Mitchell Point TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Wygant Peak and Wygant Meadow
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Out and Back
  • Distance: 9.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2365 feet
  • High point: 2,214 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: all
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Never
Falling
Poison-Oak
Ticks

Contents

Hike Description

This varied hike to Wygant Peak packs a lot of scenery into the four miles up to the viewless summit. When the trail was first created, there were numerous open vistas at various points, including the summit, but the coniferous forest grew up, and the path deteriorated over time. Note, however, that Northwest Youth Corps and Trailkeepers of Oregon crews have now maintained the length of the tread, and the route is clear and easily followed compared to the past. The notorious swathes of poison oak have been trimmed back from the trail verges. This trip can be tailored to your ability or time constraints as there are several good turnaround points at views over the Columbia River Gorge. Also, the route uses 35 well-graded switchbacks, so the elevation gain never feels too onerous. The trail runs mostly through state park land, but the summit ridge at Wygant Peak is in the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness. You can continue down from the peak a short distance to Wygant Meadow, which offers a sunny lunch spot and views west to Mount Defiance and Table Mountain.

The trip begins at the Mitchell Point Trailhead, located at Exit 58 on Interstate 84 eastbound. Walk the entry drive downhill, and bear left on an abandoned section of the Historic Columbia River Highway. Pass two wooden bollards and an open gate at a Wygant Trail sign. The trail follows the old highway under a shady maple/Douglas-fir canopy for a quarter mile before a short segment veers off the highway grade to the left, crossing Mitchell Creek on stepping stones. It then curves back to follow another abandoned highway stretch, this one cloaked with poison oak and invasive herb-Robert. A viewpoint above the freeway offers a vista to Dog Mountain, Cook Hill, and Chemawa Hill straight across the Columbia. After nearly a half-mile along this second segment of historic road, a trail sign points you off the road grade for good as you turn left into a dramatic, cliff-lined draw.

Cross a small creek, and make five switchbacks up before the trail levels in leafy Douglas-fir forest with an understory of vine maple, cascara, hazel, dogwood, thimbleberry, wild rose, and Oregon grape. Pass the lower junction with the Chetwoot Loop. The Chetwoot trail was a rustic path built by Portlander Basil Clark and other volunteers in the late 1970s and used to provide a loop alternative for your return, but the trail is now abandoned because of slides and blowdown ("Chetwoot" is Chinook jargon for "bear" and commemorates an encounter that Clark and his fellow volunteers had in the area.). A few yards farther, a sign declares there's a viewpoint to the right and the "Perham Creek Bridge" to the left. The viewpoint offers a vista across the river from an oak-shaded meadow. Continue on the main trail down into the steep-sided Perham Creek canyon, passing across hanging meadows that bloom with balsamroot in the spring. Soon, you will enter the shady, green oasis formed by the creek.

Pass some remains of the Perham Creek Bridge, which was first damaged by a falling tree and then unhinged from its moorings by a flash flood. Cross Perham Creek on a stable log; below you, the west end of the former bridge remains cabled to a Douglas-fir. Then hike into a powerline corridor and, at a 'Trail' sign, head up to the left (The now overgrown trail leading right takes you through the brush to the Lower Wygant Viewpoint on a flat, moss-covered bluff that provides views from Mitchell Point in the east to Table Mountain in the west.). Back at the main trail, continue up to reach the powerlines again. From a pylon, there's an excellent view to Mitchell Point and Mitchell Spur. Enter the woods, and switchback up six times, passing two disintegrating old cabled viewpoints that do not offer sweeping vistas anymore. Traverse up to a switchback where a short spur leads out to the Middle Wygant Viewpoint, which offers a panorama that includes Drano Lake, Dog Mountain, Cook Hill, Underwood Mountain, the snowy summit of Mount Adams, and Mitchell Point. Then reach the west junction with the abandoned Chetwoot Loop. Above the junction is a carved Basil Clark sign for the Wygant Trail. It's also worth walking down the abandoned trail a short distance to the wonderful hanging meadow that blooms with rosy plectritis, cluster lilies, gold stars, and lupine in the spring.

From the junction, traverse along a rock face blooming with larkspur, alumroot, plectritis, and Sitka mist maidens. A limited viewpoint affords a view to Wind Mountain. Poison oak still crowds the trail as you ascend four switchbacks to the fine Upper Wygant Viewpoint, 0.6 miles from the upper junction with the Chetwood Loop Trail. You can see more of Mount Adams from here, while to the west, Indian Point on the Oregon side of the Gorge and Greenleaf Peak and Table Mountain on the Washington side are visible.

Beyond the upper viewpoint, the trail ascends 18 switchbacks over the final 1.6 miles. Trailkeepers of Oregon constructed a log and rock crib at the next switchback, and two switchbacks later, you'll get another view downriver. You'll traverse through vine maple thickets with an understory of Oregon grape and vanilla leaf. Another switchback at a hanging meadow also gives west-facing vistas. Higher up, at an opening, Augspurger Mountain becomes visible behind Dog Mountain. A couple of switchbacks later, there's still another window to the Gorge. A final set of six switchbacks takes you to the summit ridge, where you enter the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness. Drop through a carpet of starry Solomon-plume, and then rise to the small cairn at Wygant Peak's now forested summit.

A well-defined trail drops about a quarter mile from the summit area through a carpet of Solomon-plume to a large meadow on the southwest face of the peak. Here, you'll get views west across forested Viento Creek to the summit of Viento Ridge and Mount Defiance. Indian Point can also be distinguished high above the river. Table Mountain and Greenleaf Peak are visible on the Washington side of the Columbia. The meadow blooms with showy phlox, chickweed, desert-parsley, wild strawberry, and chocolate lily in the spring.


Maps

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

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Day use only: 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • Restrooms, picnic table, interpretive signs at trailhead

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan
  • Day Hiking: Columbia River Gorge by Craig Romano
  • Hiking the Columbia River Gorge by Russ Schneider; revised by Jim Yuskavitch
  • Day Hike! Columbia Gorge by Seabury Blair, Jr.
  • 70 Virtual Hikes of the Columbia River Gorge by Northwest Hiker
  • Columbia Gorge Hikes: 42 Scenic Hikes by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • 35 Hiking Trails: Columbia River Gorge by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Short Trips and Trails: The Columbia Gorge by Oral Bullard & Don Lowe
  • Oregon's Columbia River Gorge: Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon State Parks: A Complete Recreation Guide by Jan Bannan

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.