Hiking Dog Mountain: The Steeper Route

One of the most popular hikes in the Columbia Gorge, especially during wildflower season. In order to avoid some of the crowds take the steeper route. Distance: 7 miles. Elevation Gain: 2,800 ft. A challenging yet incredibly rewarding hike, great for training or trail running. Northwest Forest Pass is required.


If you know the Columbia Gorge, you know Dog Mountain. It's the ever-rewarding, incredibly challenging, insanely popular, calf burning 6.9-mile hike that attracts hundreds of people every weekend, especially during May-June when the wildflowers are in full bloom. 

If you're like me and you hate hiking with crowds, take the steeper route (or better known as the old Dog Mountain trail). The trail begins at the Dog Mountain trailhead and begins with a steep incline past the bathroom on trail 147 for about 3/4 of a mile. Here, you'll find yourself on a flat trail in the forest with two options. The most popular option is the trail to the right that goes straight up. The steeper route (or the old Dog Mountain trail) is on the left and goes straight. Follow the trail that goes straight (on the left) and you'll hike for about two miles in the forest before reconnecting with the main trail. 

Once you have rejoined with the main trail, you'll have another steep incline in the forest before reaching an open meadow and your first view of the Columbia Gorge that is guaranteed to take your breath away (either because you are beyond exhausted and your legs are shaking or because it is absolutely beautiful). Once you reach the meadow you make your way another 1/2 mile before reaching the summit and a clear, much-deserved view of St. Helens and Mount Hood which peaks up behind Mount Defiance. 

On the way down, you'll have the option to take the steeper route back or follow the main trail which as a lower viewpoint. 

If hiking on the weekend (especially during May-June) make sure to get to the trailhead before 7 am to avoid crowds and to be able to park in the parking lot. This is hike is also just as popular for sunset as it is in the morning so beware of crowds if you are planning to hike around 5 pm, the parking lot may be full but there is additional parking alongside the highway if needed.

Packing List:

  • Water 
  • Food
  • Camera
  • Trekking Poles (helpful for going down, it can be slippery)
  • Windbreaker (the top can be windy!)

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Bria Justus

Portland, OR born. PNW grown. Spontaneous adventurer. Amateur blogger. Wannabe trail runner. Half marathon finisher. Aspiring storyteller. Travel lover. Avid hiker. Sunset chaser. Thai food enthusiast. Twenty-one year...