According to the Forest Service, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area stretches from the Sandy River to the Deschutes River, includes both the Washington and Oregon sides of the river, and covers 292,500 acres.
It’s no surprise that my favorite way to enjoy the Gorge is to hike. But the Gorge offers many other activities like windsurfing, horseback riding, kayaking and whitewater rafting.
15 Day Hikes in The Gorge
- Multnomah Falls – If you’re going to visit the Gorge, you really have to do Multnomah Falls. If you’re quick, you can do it in about 90 minutes. Multnomah Falls is a 2.6 mile round-trip hike with elevation gain of about 700 feet to the top of Oregon’s tallest waterfall. [Parking: Free]
- Triple Falls – East from Multnomah Falls is Triple Falls, an out-and-back hike of about 3.4 miles. The trail starts out steep and then eases up. You’ll walk under a beautiful waterfall on the way up to Triple Falls. This is a popular hike. [Parking: Free]
- Angel’s Rest – Another hike down the road from Multnomah Falls, this one is to the west. Angel’s Rest is an easy hike but one that rewards you with excellent views of the Gorge. The trail is less than 5-miles round-trip, but you can continue on to Devil’s Rest if you have more time. [Parking: Free]
- Punchbowl Falls – Here’s one for the families. Follow Eagle Creek trail out to Punchbowl Falls for a spectacular waterfall. It’s crazy to think that some people have stand-up paddle boarded off the falls! [Parking: $5]
- Buck Point – Take the Eagle Creek Trail (same as Punchbowl Falls) and continue on to Buck Point. The view is lovely but the buzz of powerlines is slightly annoying. Still, it’s a solid hike. [Parking: $5]
- Benson Plateau – There are multiple trails to explore this area. Try Ruckel Ridge, a roughly 8-mile loop with lots of elevation gain. Bring a map or hike with a friend that knows the area. Sometimes the trail can be hard to follow. There’s some good scrambling sections so it’s best to wait for a dry day. [Parking: $5]
- Mount Defiance – Climbing Mount Defiance puts you atop the tallest point in the Columbia River Gorge at 4,960 feet. It’s a steep difficult trail and one that many people avoid due to its difficulty. However, this is a popular climb if you’re training to summit Mount Hood. Prepare for a long day though, it’s about 12-miles. [Parking: Free]
- Beacon Rock – Beacon Rock is an 848-foot tall monolith that stands prominently on the shore of the Columbia River. It can easily be seen from various points all along the Gorge. It’s a short set of switchbacks to the summit with a network of bridges and handrails. You can get the one day parking pass for $10 or an annual pass for $30. Use the same pass for Hamilton Mountain, which is across the street. [Parking: $10]
- Hamilton Mountain – Hamilton Mountain trail is steep, gaining 2,000 feet of elevation, that loops around for more than 9-miles. Enjoy Hardy Creek and the waterfall. From the summit you’ll enjoy picturesque views of Beacon Rock and the Columbia River below. [Parking: $10]
- Coyote Wall – The name alone makes you want to go, right? The cliff that it’s named for is pretty impressive. Hiking along the top of the cliffs give sweeping views of the river valley. Keep an eye out for wildlife and birds. On a clear, sunny day you can spot Mount Hood across the river. It’s fun loop to hike or mountain bike. [Parking: Free]
- Cape Horn – Never heard of it? Probably because it only became official a few years ago. The Cape Horn Trail loop covers 7.4 miles, with 1,200 feet of elevation gain. A large section is closed from February 1st-July 15th to protect nesting Peregrine falcons. [Parking: Free]
- Table Mountain – Depending on your route, Table Mountain is a 9-mile or 16-mile hike. The beginning part is moderate but heading up Heartbreak Ridge Trail is strenuous. Gorgeous views await you at the summit of this flat-topped mountain. Although when I went the summit was very foggy and cloud-covered. [Parking: Free at Bonneville Hot Springs, $5 at Tamanous Trailhead (aka – Bonneville Trail)]
- Wind Mountain – Crunched for time? Knock out this 2.5 mile loop for a quick yet satisfying hike. This cone-shaped mountain rises west of the more popular Dog Mountain. [Parking: Free]
- Dog Mountain – Dog Mountain is one of my favorite Gorge hikes because it’s a fairly long trail, steep and has awesome views. And yes, the flowers are nice too. I’ve hiked Dog Mountain in all seasons and it offers something wonderful each time. Since it’s a strenuous trail, it’s a great place to train for other adventures. [Parking: $5]
- Augspurger Mountain – If you’re feeling ambitious, you can bypass the summit of Dog Mountain and continue on to Augspurger Mountain. It’s a long hike, right around 12-miles and nearly 4,800 feet of elevation gain. Like Mount Defiance in Oregon, you really gotta commit to this one. But who doesn’t love a good challenge? [Parking: $5 at Dog Mountain]
Where will you be hiking next?