Dog Mountain is one of the must-do hikes on the Washington side of the Gorge. It’s not easy, but nothing worth doing is easy, right? Park in the large parking lot along SR 14, and hit the trail. The first 1/2 mile is all steep switchbacks, climbing about 700 feet, with lovely poison oak alongside the trail. Do not touch the oak, or you will be very unhappy in a couple of days! At the top of the switchbacks, the trail enters the forest and forks. The left option is a gradual climb to the top. It winds through the forest, with not much in the way of views.
The right option is a thigh and calf burning climb to the top. About halfway up, the trail comes onto an open hillside, with a 180° view of the Gorge. If your legs are tired, stop here and head down. If not, continue climbing up a wildflower-covered (at least in spring) hillside to the top. This is a picnic spot worthy of the gods, so pack a lunch and plan to spend a little time enjoying the view.
Directions: Cross the Port of Hood River Bridge. Head west along SR 14, going approximately 10 miles (that’s a guess) to just after MP 54, where you’ll see a large parking lot on the right side of the road. A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park here. Pick one up at 2nd Wind in Hood River.
Elevation Gain: Approximately 2800 feet
Length: 6 miles
Time required: 2-4 hours
Open: The bottom half is snow-free almost year-round. Expect snow at the top during colder winters. Do not attempt the upper section if it’s covered in snow. A long slide-for-life awaits you!