Hiking in Portland, Oregon
As a girl who grew up in Ohio, I still can’t help but be awed by the mountains and natural beauty of Oregon. I feel so lucky to live in such a beautiful place. Here are some of my favorite hikes near Portland. All are within a 1 to 1.5 hour drive of the city.
Don’t be fooled, friends. This mountain was not named for the numerous hikers that bring along Fido, but for the knee-buckling, tear-inducing fact that the mountain works you like a dog. (Full disclosure: I don’t know why it’s named Dog Mountain, but if I had to place a bet you’d better believe it’d be on the latter).
The trail begins with a harsh set of switchbacks. Just when you’ve reached your breaking point, the switchbacks end, though the trail continues to climb upward for a mile or so, before offering up a view of the Columbia River Gorge. Stop here and do a little stretch, give yourself a bit of a pep talk, and then continue up the trail. There’s no way around it, this climb is brutal, and the return downhill even more so (you will sing sad songs to your knees and quads later on), but the view at the top is, dare I say, worth it. A snowy Mt. St. Helen’s (the infamous volcano that blew its top in 1980) looms to the north and sweeping views of the Columbia River and the Columbia River Gorge stretch out almost 3,000 feet below you.
Directions: From Portland take I-84 east to Cascade Locks exit 44. Take the bridge across the river (into Washington State) and turn right on Highway 14. After about 12 miles, you’ll see a large sign on your left for the Dog Mountain Trailhead. Park in the pullout to the left.
Driving Time: About 1.5 hours
Difficulty: A gut-bustingly-hard 7 mile loop
Hometown hint: Climb Dog Mountain in April or May for a show of early season flowers. If the drive is too much for you, there are a number of cabin getaways to rent nearby.