Vancouver, WA: Dog Mountain Loop

Discover spectacular wildflower displays and unrivaled views across the Columbia River Gorge on this popular summit hike.
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Discover spectacular wildflower displays and unrivaled views across the Columbia River Gorge on this popular summit hike.

Arguably the most popular dayhike on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge, the Dog Mountain Trail catapults hikers nearly 3,000 feet above the Columbia River to spectacular displays of wildflowers and summit views of Mounts Hood, Adams and St. Helens. The Dog Mountain Trail begins at the east end of the parking area, and immediately begins a steep ascent up the wooded hillside.
Less than a mile in, the trail splits: the “less difficult” trail veers right, and the “more difficult” trail leads left. Bear right for a more scenic route traveling past meadows and big views. The grade lessens slightly as the path climbs through forest and enters a hillside meadow covered with seasonal wildflowers. Take the short spur to a lookout point with spectacular views west over Wind Mountain and east toward Hood River.
Re-enter shady woods as you continue the climb past fairy slipper, Oregon grape, and starflower. The trail gets more crowded at the upper junction with the old trail at mile 2.1. Roughly half a mile later, the route reaches the lower portion of the summit meadow and the site of an old fire lookout with incredible views. From here, bear left and climb through the meadow. At mile 2.9, bear right on the summit spur trail to reach the top of Dog Mountain. Find a spot to relax and enjoy the view (a few secluded spots can be found on the north side of the summit).
The return trip drops down the backside of Dog Mountain, then contours southwest for a steady, shaded descent, offering occasional views westward over Wind Mountain and the Columbia River. (The crowds diminish considerably along this stretch). Look for glacier lily, candyflower, wild strawberry and sweet pea as you hike back to the trailhead.
Note: The parking area will be full by 10 a.m. on weekends, so plan to arrive early, or go later in the day. Pack plenty of water on warm days; there's no water available at the trailhead. Watch out for ticks and poison oak.
-Mapped by Eli Boschetto, Bosco Mountain Photo

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 11.1

Waypoints

DOG001

Location: 45.6992821, -121.7075783

Head west on Dog Mountain Trail.

DOG002

Location: 45.6995, -121.7064667

Pass a restroom, then start the steep ascent up Dog Mountain.

DOG003

Location: 45.7020284, -121.7098689

Bear right at the junction with the "old trail." This less difficult route passes meadows and big views.

DOG004

Location: 45.7042462, -121.7083991

Ignore the faint trail that leads left at the top of this switchback; go right.

DOG005

Location: 45.706921, -121.7021066

Enter the first hillside meadow. In spring and summer the slopes are filled with balsamroot, buttercup, larkspur, lupine, and paintbrush. In 70 feet, head south to a lookout (with a log bench) for more incredible views.

DOG006

Location: 45.7065389, -121.7017767

This lookout with a log bench showcases jaw-dropping views of the Columbia River and Wind Mountain.

DOG007

Location: 45.7068948, -121.7014897

Pass a faint track to the left that climbs above the main trail for more awesome views. Ahead, the trail climbs to the north.

DOG008

Location: 45.7124575, -121.7045045

Continue straight past the upper junction with the "old trail."

DOG009

Location: 45.7134539, -121.7011356

The trail enters the summit meadow. Continue southeast to another switchback.

DOG010

Location: 45.712849, -121.6991776

This point marks an old fire lookout point with more breathtaking views. Next: Bear left at the trail fork to stay in the meadow (the trail on the right leads through the woods). Look for Mount Hood peeking over the ridge to the south; Mount St. Helens rises to the northwest.

DOG011

Location: 45.7164953, -121.7023587

Bear right at Y-junction with Augspurger Mountain Trail to crest the summit of Dog Mountain.

DOG012

Location: 45.7165852, -121.7016721

Turn left at 3-way junction.

DOG013

Location: 45.7170309, -121.7010793

Dog Mountain (2,948 ft.): Drop your pack and enjoy the summit-top views of Mount Hood to the south and Mount Adams to the northeast. Look for secluded spots on the north side of the summit. Next: Return to Waypoint 11 and turn right to continue the loop.

DOG014

Location: 45.7261953, -121.7089033

Turn left (south) and the junction with Augspurger Mountain Trail.

DOG015

Location: 45.7222256, -121.7143965

The trail swings to the left and continues its descent through Douglas fir forest.

DOG016

Location: 45.6996456, -121.7138386

Pass views of the Columbia River on the right. The trail reconnects with the trailhead in 0.3 mile.

Views of the Columbia River and Wind Mountain

Location: 45.7065389, -121.7017177

Gorge-ous views of the Columbia River and Wind Mountain. © Eli Boschetto

Ascent

Location: 45.6995032, -121.7063069

Beginning the steep ascent of Dog Mountain. © Eli Boschetto

Trail Junction

Location: 45.7020134, -121.7097187

Choose your path up Dog Mountain. © Eli Boschetto

Oregon Grape

Location: 45.7056548, -121.7042685

Oregon grape on the Dog Mountain Trail. © Eli Boschetto

Spring Color

Location: 45.7068798, -121.701951

A meadow filled with balsamroot, buttercup and paintbrush. © Eli Boschetto

Dog Mountain

Location: 45.7089514, -121.7012644

On the trail to Dog Mountain's. summit. © Eli Boschetto

Waterleaf

Location: 45.7106296, -121.7029059

Ballhead waterleaf en route to Dog Mountain summit. © Eli Boschetto

Larkspur and Starflower

Location: 45.7130044, -121.7031097

Larkspur and starflower on the Dog Mountain trail. © Eli Boschetto

Mountain Meadow

Location: 45.7133116, -121.7005992

Lower section of Dog Mountain's summit meadow; Wind Mountain. beyond. © Eli Boschetto

Summit Bound

Location: 45.7141281, -121.7006099

Hikers en route to the summit. © Eli Boschetto

Summit Junction

Location: 45.7164953, -121.70223

Trail split to Augspurger Mountain or Dog Mountain summit. © Eli Boschetto

Views of Mount Hood

Location: 45.717029, -121.7010337

Mount Hood from Dog Mountain. © Eli Boschetto

Candyflower

Location: 45.7189542, -121.7044106

Candyflower on Augspurger Mountain Trail. © Eli Boschetto

Yellow Violet

Location: 45.717177, -121.7131305

Yellow violet on the Augspurger Mountain Trail. © Eli Boschetto

Sweet Pea

Location: 45.7089664, -121.7182159

Sweet pea on the Augspurger Mountain Trail. © Eli Boschetto

Wind Mountain

Location: 45.7051154, -121.7192674

Wind Mountain from Augspurger Mountain Trail. © Eli Boschetto