If you're looking for wildflowers, a great workout, and a view of the Columbia River Gorge, then Dog Mountain is a must. Just keep in mind you won't be the only one. So try to make it to the trailhead before 8am.
This hike wastes no time in giving you a chance to burn some calories. And that's a good thing, because you'll be pushing through a forest with no real views to take in. The shot above was my first look at the river and you can see I've already gained a bit of elevation.
With all the traffic this hike gets, the trail is wide and well worn.
A little over halfway up the mountain, you'll come to your first meadow and scenic view.
Not too many wildflowers at this point, but it's motivation enough to press onward.
Not only do you get a view of the gorge, but the meadow is large enough to give you a view of the meadow on the summit. It's a little hard to see in this shot, but the top has a wonderful golden hew.
Looking West, you can see Wind Mountain.
Here's a little better shot of the mini meadow at the first lookout with the summit in the distance.
One of my favorite switchbacks. You gain about 400 feet on this. This shot doesn't do it justice, but that might as well be a staircase. The bench is definitely there for a reason.
After you gain almost 800ft in elevation, from the first lookout, you will finally break into the beginning of the summit meadow.
Still a ways up, but now you get a better idea of what you will be hiking through.
Looking straight up the mountain from the trail's edge.
About the make the last turn up the summit, looking back, you get a spectacular view of the gorge and Wind Mountain.
Here's the final trail up to the summit.
I had to wait a little while to get this shot. The last couple who were before me were already headed down by this point. What made this memorable was they had two Irish Wolfhounds, off lead. Seeing two of those running at you makes you remember it for quite a while.
Looking back towards the gorge, you can now see some of the other hikers catching up with me.
Getting up early was totally worth it. The morning light is making the wildflowers practically glow.
Enough with the landscape shots, it's time to get something in the foreground.
These Balsam Root are such a hearty plant/flower.
Another shot of Balsam Root with Wind Mountain in the background.
One last shot before packing it in.
While it's still early, scenes like this will be commonplace. Except, imagine it with almost a constant line of hikers.
Toddling my way back down, one last shot looking up now that the light has made its way up a bit higher.
By the time I got back down to the bottom of the mountain, the parking lot was overflowing with cars. I was so amazed that I counted almost 100 cars on my way out. But then again, when I went, the wildflowers were in their peak. Plus, with this hike being so close to Portland, it's only natural to expect this level of popularity.
If you too would like to visit Dog Mountain and see these amazing wildflowers in bloom, it's best to make you trip sometime in late spring or early summer. If you are worried that you will miss them, it's always best to check the trail reports over at WTA. Here's a direct link to their Dog Mountain listing.