|OregonWildflowers Locations Dog Mountain|
|Area||Columbia Gorge (west - WA)|
|Best time to visit||Mid-May through early June|
|Trail Info||3.0 miles round-trip, 1600 feet elevation gain to lower viewpoint|
6.0 miles round-trip, 2820 feet elevation gain to summit
|PLANT LIST AVAILABLE|
|Hike information - Oregon Hikers Field Guide|
|Hike information - Washington Trails Association|
|Dogs||Allowed, but must be kept on leash AT ALL TIMES.|
|Northwest Forest Pass required!|
Rising 2948 feet above sea level on the Washington side of the Gorge, Dog Mountain provides terrific views of the Gorge in all directions, as well as Mount Saint Helens to the north and the very top of Mount Hood to the south.
More importantly, it is a fantastic place to see mid-Spring wildflowers. Starting during the first half of May, the meadows near the summit are blanketed with Northwest Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza deltoidea), along with Harsh Paintbrush (Castilleja hispida), Spring Gold (Lomatium utriculatum), Columbia Gorge Lupine (Lupinus latifolius var. thompsonianus), Bicolored Cluster Lily (Brodiaea howellii), Upland Larkspur (Delphinium nuttallianum), Western Buttercup (Ranunculus occidentalis), and Spreading Phlox (Phlox diffusa). There is also a fine assortment of forest wildflowers on the lower section of trail, including: Hooker's Fairy Bells (Disporum hookeri), Pacific Starflower (Trientalis borealis ssp. latifolia), and several types of Coralroot (Corallorrhiza sp.).
But this requires some effort. Even getting to the lower viewpoint will have you huffing and puffing, and from there the sight of the sublime summit meadows will compel you to subject yourself to even more physical punishment.
It will also require you to brave the hordes of other visitors. The best option is to plan your visit on a weekday if at all possible.
MARCH 2016 UPDATE: The USFS is limiting parking to 75 cars. Please consider carpooling or using Skamania County's West End Transit, which will have shuttles to the Dog Mountain Trailhead during wildflower season.
From the parking area, the trail climbs to the right. There are pit toilets several hundred feet up the trail before the real climbing starts.
When you come to the first trail junction at 0.5 mile, turn right onto the "easier" trail. Difficulty is all relative, but that trail is a lot easier than the other/older trail, and more scenic as well.
If you hike all the way to the summit, on the return trip you might consider taking the Augspurger Mountain trail heading west just below the summit (it is clearly signed). This will add approximately 0.9 mile to the return trip, but it is considerably more gradual. Don't be put-off by the fact that you will climb a little bit during the first section west of the Dog Mountain summit -- besides, you will enjoy the views from that angle. This trail also provides you with an opportunity to see more wildflowers, particularly species which thrive in the forest. For example, there were scads of Fairy Bells, False and Star-Flowered Solomon Seal along that trail, whereas there were hardly any along the Dog Mountain trail proper. The only thing to watch out for is that trail crosses several talus slopes, but those are probably no more difficult than it would be to negotiate the sometimes-loose gravel on the steep Dog Mountain trail.
If you decide to do the loop including the Augspurger Mountain Trail, you will proceed for approximately one mile from the summit spur trail, then turn left at a signed trail junction which eventually descends to the trailhead.
|Reports from previous years|
|05/24/2010||Jim & Nina Pollock|
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Dog Mountain Trail #1
Dog Mountain Trail #2
Dog Mountain Trail #3
Gorge view from Dog Mountain Trail
Mount St. Helens from Dog Mountain Summit
Mount St. Helens from Dog Mountain trail
Wind Mountain from Dog Mountain trail #1
Wind Mountain from Dog Mountain trail #2
Wind Mountain from Dog Mountain trail #3
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'I hold no preference among flowers, so long as they are wild, free, spontaneous.' -- Edward Abbey