The Pacific Northwest offers some of the best hiking in North America. The verdant landscapes and stunning scenery that can be glimpsed by walking up trails is truly a sight to behold. Of the many hikes in the Pacific Northwest, Dog Mountain is certainly one you cannot miss out on. Located in the Columbia River Gorge just 45 minutes outside of Portland, this trail is easy to get to. Dog Mountain is also one of the more difficult hikes that are featured in the Pacific Northwest. At 7.4 miles in distance the hike does not seem that daunting, however, the 2800 ft. elevation gain is something to consider. The trails are steep but in the end the breathtaking views are well worth the effort it takes to see them.

                The hike begins with a steep 100 yard slope to the bathroom. It is important to make sure you take care of any needs before taking on Dog Mountain. The hike begins as an unforgiving assortment of steep switchbacks and slopes. About a mile into the hike there is a sign that marks two directions which the trail can take: proceeding on the right trail yields the difficult route whereas going left takes you up the more difficult trail. Though the more difficult trail is shorter than the difficult trail there is no guarantee in it being less time consuming as it features steep inclines through the tree line to the summit. The trail winds up the mountain and though it does not feature views overlooking the Columbia River, it does offer a look at the verdant forest that is the Pacific Northwest. Alternatively, the difficult trail breaks through the tree line to offer beautiful glimpses at the Columbia River and its surrounding landscape. The two trails converge on a sign that tells hikers that they are nearing the top. From here it is another mile to the top. This trail breaks through the tree line and the trail comes upon hills teaming with flowers. These flowers bloom in Spring so planning the hike around the Spring months is paramount in witnessing the beauty of Dog Mountain. On this path to the summit another sign indicates that hikers are but 0.1 miles from the top. Hikers know when they reach the top as there is a large area where most hikers will stop, eat, and marvel at the view.

Flowers in BloomCredit: Kyle JohnsonTrail HeadCredit: Kyle Johnson

                Important things to bring on this hike before taking it on are: good shoes, warm clothes, plenty of water, and some snacks. Because the hike is best taken in the Spring, the chance for rain is higher than in later months. This makes the trails muddy and harder to gain traction on making the hike even more difficult for hikers with ill-suited footwear. Also, because of the inclement weather it is important to bring warm clothes. You may not need pants, a jacket, or gloves, during the hike, but at the summit where there are no trees to provide cover you are subject to cold winds and rain. You’ll be relieved when you are comfortably enjoying the beautiful views and your friends are shivering and trying to keep warm. Food and water is important on any hike, but on such a challenging hike it is imperative to stay hydrated and some food will give you the energy you need to get up the steep inclines.

Columbia River OverlookCredit: Kyle Johnson

                To get the most out of this hike I suggest taking the more difficult trail up to the summit and descend on the less difficult trail. Not only do you get to experience both routes and the scenery that both routes have to offer, but you also get the feeling of accomplishment from hiking up the grueling inclines of the more difficult trail. With anything in life, the more effort you put into something the more you will get out of it, the same is true of this hike. When you reach the summit, sweaty and tired, you will appreciate the view that much more because you worked that much harder to get to the top.