Dog Mountain Hike is NOT for the Weak!

We were in Portland, OR and after sitting in meetings all week we were ready to hit the trail.

We asked around the office for some ideas that were not the typical touristy trails around Multnomah Falls (Been there, done that!).  Dog Mountain Trail was suggested not only for its wild flowers but because it was a trail that was still open after the devastating fires last summer (2017).  After checking on Instagram and seeing photos of wild flowers in foreground and stunning views of the Gorge in the background, we were sold.  We scoffed at the people who said that we must be feeling ambitious.

We did minimal research and discovered that the trail was approximately 7 miles which is over 11km for those of you who think in metric. Knowing that I have issues with altitude, we estimated around 4 hours to do the loop – plenty of time to get back for an afternoon meeting.

We got up early and were on the road by 5:30am.  We passed over the beautiful Bridge of the Gods and stopped at a convenience store in Stevenson to pick up a $5 trail permit. We were early enough at the trailhead that parking was not a problem.

Bridge of the Gods - Skamania Oregon

Within minutes, I realized that I had underestimated the trail and overestimated my fitness level.  When the trail sign gives you a choice of “Difficult” or “More Difficult” you know that the trail is not going to be easy. We chose “Difficult”, in case you thought we might choose differently!

Dog Mountain Trailhead Oregon

I downloaded the AllTrails App so that I could track our progress and gauge how many more switchbacks we had before the summit.

Adam hiking Dog Mountain

I used the excuse of needing to take photos so that I could stop and rest on each switchback.

Partial Look Out on Dog Mountain

The photo above shows a little bit of how steep the trail actually was.  This is looking up at a look-out part way up the mountain.  It was super windy, and I thought I was going to be blown off the mountain.

Dog Mountain Look Out

The views were spectacular and well worth battling the wind. After taking a quick break, we headed back on the trail.  We slowly climbed above the clouds, and it started to turn cold and misty. The view of fields of wildflowers started to entice us to pick up the pace.

Wild flower fields dog mountain

So, not exactly as advertised. The fog and cloud cover took away all thought of views of the Gorge.  BUT, I do love a good fog photo!

Dog Mountain Fog and Wild flowers

We didn’t spend too long at the top as it was cold and rainy, so turned and headed back down the way we came.  We thought the worst was over and were we ever wrong.  The steepness of the trail and the shale rock at the top made it slow going on the way back down. Adam fell and we thought he broke his wrist, so it really slowed us down.

Being out of shape, my muscles started to shake and grow weak on the way down which is the surest way of getting hurt.  I stopped frequently to re-hydrate and munch on a KIND bar.

Even though we did not get the views we were expecting, and it pushed our fitness levels to the extreme, this was a very rewarding hike. We are looking forward to coming back next spring and hiking the trail on a sunnier day with better views.

Time: 4.5 hours from start to finish. If in better shape than I was, this hike should probably take you 3-3.5 hours.

Top 5 Day Hiking Gear:
1. Arc’Teryx light hoodie is always my go to. Perfect for layering and keeping your body temperature regulated as conditions change.
2. Hydro Flask 21 oz Bottle with the sports cap for easy hydration
3. Outdoor Research below the knee shorts with zippered side pockets for carrying ID. They are lightweight, and wind resistant.
4. KEEN Hiking Sandals with Socks (Yes, I wear them with socks when I hike so I don’t get blisters!)
5. KIND Bars (Cherry Cashew and Chocolate are the only ones I eat!)

KEEN Sandals

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