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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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
- Distance: 11.1
Location: 45.6992821, -121.7075783
Head west on Dog Mountain Trail.
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Pass a restroom, then start the steep ascent up Dog Mountain.
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Bear right at the junction with the “old trail.” This less difficult route passes meadows and big views.
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Ignore the faint trail that leads left at the top of this switchback; go right.
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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.
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This lookout with a log bench showcases jaw-dropping views of the Columbia River and Wind Mountain.
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Pass a faint track to the left that climbs above the main trail for more awesome views. Ahead, the trail climbs to the north.
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Continue straight past the upper junction with the “old trail.”
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The trail enters the summit meadow. Continue southeast to another switchback.
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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.
Location: 45.7164953, -121.7023587
Bear right at Y-junction with Augspurger Mountain Trail to crest the summit of Dog Mountain.
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Turn left at 3-way junction.
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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.
Location: 45.7261953, -121.7089033
Turn left (south) and the junction with Augspurger Mountain Trail.
Location: 45.7222256, -121.7143965
The trail swings to the left and continues its descent through Douglas fir forest.
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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
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Gorge-ous views of the Columbia River and Wind Mountain. © Eli Boschetto
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Beginning the steep ascent of Dog Mountain. © Eli Boschetto
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Choose your path up Dog Mountain. © Eli Boschetto
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Oregon grape on the Dog Mountain Trail. © Eli Boschetto
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A meadow filled with balsamroot, buttercup and paintbrush. © Eli Boschetto
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On the trail to Dog Mountain’s. summit. © Eli Boschetto
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Ballhead waterleaf en route to Dog Mountain summit. © Eli Boschetto
Larkspur and Starflower
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Larkspur and starflower on the Dog Mountain trail. © Eli Boschetto
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Lower section of Dog Mountain’s summit meadow; Wind Mountain. beyond. © Eli Boschetto
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Hikers en route to the summit. © Eli Boschetto
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Trail split to Augspurger Mountain or Dog Mountain summit. © Eli Boschetto
Views of Mount Hood
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Mount Hood from Dog Mountain. © Eli Boschetto
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Candyflower on Augspurger Mountain Trail. © Eli Boschetto
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Yellow violet on the Augspurger Mountain Trail. © Eli Boschetto
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Sweet pea on the Augspurger Mountain Trail. © Eli Boschetto
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Wind Mountain from Augspurger Mountain Trail. © Eli Boschetto