• Activities:

    Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Spring

  • Trail Type:

    Loop

  • RT Distance:

    5 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    480 Feet

Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Wildflowers

Discover a place that has the ultimate combination of expansive Columbia River Gorge views, rustic farmstead living, and a hillside bursting in shades of yellow and purple thanks to the thousands of wildflowers in bloom.

Just north of The Dalles lies a park most have never heard of despite it's astounding 3,338 acres in size... Columbia Hills Historical State Park. A large park comprised of many smaller ones, the outdoor lover may come here to enjoy kayaking or fishing on the 90 acre lake, rock climb the ragged outcroppings of Horsetheif Butte, or perhaps even witness history by checking out the petroglyphs dating back to the original peoples of the North West. But a trip to Columbia Hills Historical State Park just wouldn't be complete without making a stop at the Dalles Mountain Ranch, located on the NW corner of the park.

The Dalles Mountain Ranch has become a spot well worth waking up at the crack of dawn and road tripping to. Why, you might ask?

Wildflowers!

The infamous ranch is truly an environmental anomaly, being located at the precise spot where two climates converge as one. Thanks to these perfect conditions, every year (typically in April), the hillsides become engulfed in nothing but yellow and purple wildflowers. As if this wasn't cool enough already, the old Dalles Mountain Ranch remains in tact adding an extra bit of character to the landscapes you will find when exploring the area.

Although the majority of the Dalles Mountain Ranch possesses no true trails, there is one that will allow you to hike in the shape of a circle throughout the lower hillside. The hike begins at the parking lot, where you can also grab a flier showing a more detailed approach to where the trail leads and how far each section is. By heading south, the most common approach is to complete the 5 mile hike in a clock-wise rotation. At roughly two feet wide and a light brown color the trail is relatively easy to follow but can be confusing at times due to the dozens of side trails leading throughout the wildflowers. While you are more than welcome to stray from the main path, it is asked that you tread lightly and follow the 'leave no trace' mentality. If at all possible try to follow a side path that has already been created so as to minimize disruption of the wildflowers.

About 1.5 miles in, the trail will T where you can either choose to stay left and continue the hike in a circular fashion, or turn onto the T and create the smaller circle instead. This is a great option for those looking to make a shorter hike (roughly only 3.25 miles in total if taken) but still enjoy the beauty of the wildflowers in bloom. Regardless of which direction you choose to take, on the homeward stretch of the trail you will pass perhaps one of the most photographed vintage cars in the PNW. Resting peacefully among the flowers, the car is met by endless admirers capturing its rustic beauty in time.

Now get out there and explore before the flowers are gone! This day trip is perfect for hikers and photographers alike with an array of trails and beautiful scenery!

Pack List

  • Discover Pass ($10 per day or $30 per year)
  • Hiking Shoes
  • Food/water
  • Extra clothing (layers)
  • 10 essentials
  • Camera
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Reviews

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I went out last night and it was wonderful to see so many lupines and balsam root with the lush green grass. I drove all the way from Portland and met some photographers from Seattle and Vancouver (Wa) who also came out for sunset photos. I'd definitely go back for another getaway! Just make sure to pack your own water and snacks!

10 months ago
10 months ago

Matt Klemsz

Wannabe professional wanderer attempting to capture the beauty of the outdoors.

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