This extremely popular trail is well known for its “ass-kicking” climb, outstanding gorge and mountain views and fields of berries and flowers. There are a couple of trail-tackling options, but all are steep and gradual climbs. Some are noted to be sightly less difficult, but the truth is no matter which way you hike, you’re likely to be sore for a few days after.
4 friends and I decided to tackle Dog Mountain, notoriously a difficult and busy hike, but we have all done these kinds of hikes before.
We decided to take the Augspurger trail to the west to reach Dog Mountain’s summit. It was rumored to be a bit less steep, but about .4 mi. longer. It was still a steep uphill climb all the way, with very little leveling off in any section of this hike. But, as in any hike, you can hike at whatever pace you’d like.
As we approached the 3 mile marker we began to see clouds rushing by all around us. The woods were wet, and even though there had been no forecast of rain, the plants were covered in droplets from the passing clouds.
Up, up and away, still we climb. Suddenly the forest’s tree line ended in the apex of a turn, the air felt suddenly dry, and steep large flowery hills are all we can see. What a change from one turn to another.
Although we had not seen more than 4 people on the trail up to this point, we were suddenly surrounded by several small hiking groups as we approached the top.
At the top, you will share the views with other hikers. Some are snacking or having lunch, others napping or getting ready for their descent. We sat a while, talked, laughed as friends do, enjoyed the view and had some of our own snacks to boost our energy for the trip down.
The hike down was not as easy as you would think. Three days later, I was still feeling the downhill climb in my thighs. I found that one of the best views was .4 mi. from the top where there is a great vantage point for viewing the gorge, river, and mountains. Hang onto your hats ‘cause it can get windy there.
I loved this hike for all its beautiful views and the burn afterward. Truly a must-hike if you make it to the Pacific NW, and its especially beautiful right now.
Near: Bingen, WA
Distance: 7.5 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 2850 ft
Hike Time: 4.5 hours
Trail Condition: OK, but a few difficult spots
HikeType: Loop – Augspurger Trail (Up) to Dog Mt Summit, and Dog Mountain Trail (Down)
“Dog Mountain is one of the area’s best and most accessible spring and summer escapes. This heavily-used loop opportunity climbs rapidly in the first 0.5 mile, gaining 700 feet in elevation. The trail forks, giving hikers the option of heading north on the more direct, but steep route to the summit, or to the east for a longer but more gradual climb.
The trail to the right (east) provides a great opportunity for sweeping views of the Columbia river and beautiful flowered meadows, while the northern route is a 2.5 mile steep grade through the forest where it links back up to the summit loop trail. For your efforts you are rewarded with a collection of wildflowers, views of Mt Hood, Mt St Helens, and the knowledge you just made it atop the 2,984 ft. Dog Mountain. Watch for poison oak and rattlesnakes along the trail.”
Trailhead: Dog Mountain – Trailhead is on north side of Washington State Highway 14 at milepost 53. 12 miles east from Bridge of the Gods. (Lat:45.70005 Lon:-121.70755)
Trail Guides for Dog Mountain Trail, Portland Oregon:
Hiking the Columbia River Gorge, by Russ Schneider (Falcon Guide)
60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Portland, by Paul Gerald (Menasha Ridge Press)
Ranger Contact: Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Hood River, OR 541-308-1700
You will need a NW Forestry Pass to park and hike this area.