The Columbia River Gorge is an excellent place to explore when visiting Oregon. The Columbia Gorge is full of waterfalls and gorgeous views. The gorge is close to Portland, making it a perfect day trip from Portland.  The Columbia River Gorge extends more than 100 miles east of Portland, along the Columbia River on both the Oregon and Washington sides. The Columbia Gorge is the largest national scenic area in the United States. As Oregonians, the Columbia River Gorge is the most beautiful part of the state, with all kinds of gorgeous scenery and things to do. The Gorge is a great area of Oregon for hikers, bikers, and outdoor enthustiasts. Even if you’re not that into hiking, driving along the Columbia River HIghway is one of the most scenic drives in the country! In our opinion, the Columbia Gorge has some of the best hikes near Portland. We’ve included a bunch of waterfall hikes because there are so many beautiful Oregon waterfalls to see. Here are some of the best Columbia Gorge hikes including must see Columbia River Gorge waterfalls, to do when you’re in the Pacific Northwest.

hiking columbia gorge mosier plateau

To make it easier for you, we have classifed the list of Columbia River Gorge hikes by hike difficulty: easy (under 3 miles), moderate (3-6 miles), and difficult (over 6 miles). Also, we have noted the dog friendly hikes and any hikes with waterfalls.

*There was a fire in the Gorge in 2017 and some of the trails in the Gorge are still closed from the Eagle Creek Fire damage. You can see trail closures on USDA  

The best Columbia River Gorge Hikes

Easy hikes in the Columbia Gorge

 

Bridal Veil – Bridal Veil, Oregon

A quick and easy hike to a two-tiered waterfall for beginners or families with small children.

  • distance: .6 miles
  • elevation gain: 70 feet
  • pass needed?  no
  • waterfall? yes
  • dog-friendly? yes
  • best for: waterfall, families

Beacon Rock – Stevenson, Washington

An easy, straight-forward climb with wonderful views in all directions from the top

  • distance: 1.8 miles roundtrip
  • elevation gain: 680 feet
  • pass needed: WA discover pass
  • waterfall?  no
  • dog-friendly? yes
  • Best for:  great gorge views

Catherine Creek Arch Loop – Lyle, Washington

Located on the Washington side of the Columbia River, Catherine Creek is a great wildflower hike on the . Catherine Creek has the most wildflower diversity in the Columbia Gorge.

  • distance: 1.9 miles roundtrip
  • elevation gain: 325 feet
  • pass needed: no
  • waterfall?  no
  • dog-friendly? yes
  • best for: wildflowers

columbia gorge hikes catherine creek

Eagle Creek to Punchbowl Falls –  Cascade Locks, Oregon

A popular easy but beautiful hike to really appreciate what the columbia gorge has to offer. Eagle Creek Trail is part of the Pacific Crest Trail

  • distance: 3.8 miles roundtrip
  • elevation gain: 500 feet
  • pass needed: NW Forest Pass
  • waterfall?  yes
  • dog-friendly? yes
  • best for: waterfalls, families

 

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Elowah Falls – Oregon

  • distance: 1.4 miles roundtrip
  • elevation gain: 280 feet
  • pass needed: NW Forest Pass
  • waterfall?  yes
  • dog-friendly? yes
  • best for: beginners, waterfalls
READ  Tips for Hiking Smith Rock State Park in Bend, Oregon

*For a longer hike, combine Elowah Falls with Upper Mccord Creek Falls, for an additional 2.2 miles

Latourell Falls – Corbett, Oregon

Latourell falls hike is the closest hike to Portland and probably one of the prettiest waterfalls in the Columbia Gorge.

  • distance: 2.4 miles roundtrip loop
  • elevation gain: 520 feet
  • pass needed?
  • waterfall? yes
  • dog-friendly?
  • best for: beginners, families, waterfalls

Mosier Plateau Trail – Mosier, Oregon

A beautiful hike with a rewarding view at the top. During the spring, a great hike for wildflowers.

  • distance: 3.5 miles roundtrip
  • elevation gain: 600 feet
  • pass needed: no
  • waterfall?  yes
  • dog-friendly? yes
  • best for: wildflowers, family

mosier plateau trail columbia gorge hikes

Multnomah Falls – Oregon

The most iconic waterfall in the Columbia Gorge and possibly all of Oregon. Multnomah Falls has 3 different falls and is the tallest waterfall in all of Oregon.

  • distance: 2.6 miles roundtrip
  • elevation gain:700 feet
  • pass needed: no
  • waterfall?  yes
  • dog-friendly? yes
  • best for: families, if you’re short on time

*Because Multnomah Falls is so popular, we recommend starting before 9am, or hiking during the week. Know that everyday in summer is generally filled with people.

Oneonta Gorge to Lower Oneonta Falls – Corbett, Oregon

Oneonta Gorge is one of the many wonders of the Columbia Gorge, however the creek is the trail. To reach the falls, you must walk up the creek.

  • distance: 3.5 miles roundtrip
  • elevation gain: 600 feet
  • pass needed: no
  • waterfall?  yes
  • dog-friendly? yes
  • best for: waterfalls

Rowena Plateau Hike – Rowena, Oregon

Sweeping views of the gorge and open grasslands with arrowleaf balsamroot, bachelor’s button, and other fantastic flowers.

  • distance: 3.5 miles roundtrip
  • elevation gain: 600 feet
  • pass needed: no
  • waterfall?  yes
  • dog-friendly? yes
  • best for: wildflowers, family

 

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Wahkeena falls – Oregon

A quick .25 mile to the waterfall but continue up to the viewpoint for gorgeous views of the gorge

  • distance: 2.8 miles roundtrip
  • elevation gain: 850 feet
  • pass needed: no
  • waterfall?  yes
  • dog-friendly? yes
  • best for: quick hike, waterfalls

Moderate hikes in the Columbia Gorge

Angels Rest – Bridal Veil, Oregon

Angels rest hike is a steep winding trail to gorgeous views of the gorge

  • distance: 5 miles roundtrip
  • elevation gain: 1500 feet
  • pass needed: no
  • waterfall?  no
  • dog-friendly? yes
  • best for: beautiful view of the gorge

hike angels rest columbia gorge oregon

Crawford Oaks Loop – Centerville, Washington

A moderate hike with gorgeous wildflowers and views of Mt Hood and the gorge.

  • distance: 7 miles roundtrip
  • elevation gain: 900 feet
  • pass needed: WA discover pass
  • waterfall?  no
  • dog-friendly? yes
  • best for:  wild flowers

 

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Dry Creek Falls – Cascade Locks, Oregon

Dry Creek Falls plunges 74 feet over the wall. Right near the Bridge of Gods, dry creek falls is a fairly easy waterfall hike right along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).

  • distance: 4.4 miles roundtrip
  • elevation gain: 700 feet
  • pass needed: NW forest pass
  • waterfall?  yes
  • dog-friendly? yes
  • best for: waterfall, greenery

Gillette Lake – Washington

Enjoy some gorgeous forested area right in the Columbia Gorge and enjoy the blue-green Gillette Lake.

  • distance: 5.4 miles roundtrip
  • elevation gain: 648 feet
  • pass needed: NW forest pass
  • waterfall?  no
  • dog-friendly? yes
  • best for: forested area, gorgeous lake, and wildlife

 

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Hamilton Mountain – Stevenson, Washington

Waterfalls, cliffs, views and more. A part of Beacon Rock State park, Hamilton mountain loop is a difficult hike with 3 waterfalls and gorgeous views

  • distance: 7.6 miles roundtrip
  • elevation gain: 2100 feet
  • pass needed: WA discover pass
  • waterfall?  yes
  • dog-friendly? yes
  • best for: waterfalls, views
columbia river gorge hikes hamilton mountain washington

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Labyrinth Hike – White Salmon, Washington

One of the best spring-time hikes in the gorge

  • distance: 3.7 miles roundtrip
  • elevation gain: 915 feet
  • pass needed: no
  • waterfall?  no
  • dog-friendly? yes
  • best for: wildflowers, scenic views
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Memaloose Hills – Mosier, Oregon

Starts right along the Columbia River Highway and goes through forests, grass, and rolling hills, to great views of the river.

  • distance: 5.2 miles roundtrip
  • elevation gain: 905 feet
  • pass needed: no
  • waterfall?  no
  • dog-friendly? yes
  • best for: wildflowers

Starvation Creek Ridge Loop – Cascade Locks, Oregon

Hike by 3 waterfalls and a stunning viewpoint

  • distance: 2.5 miles roundtrip
  • elevation gain: 700 feet
  • pass needed: no
  • waterfall?  yes
  • dog-friendly? yes
  • best for: scenic view, waterfalls

Tom McCall Nature Reserve – Rowena, Oregon

A great hike for familes, the hike is short, easy, scenic, and filled with flowers.

  • distance: 3.25 miles roundtrip
  • elevation gain: 1070 feet
  • pass needed: no
  • waterfall?  no
  • dog-friendly? no
  • best for: wildflowers, good for younger kids

Triple Falls – Oregon

A moderate hike with 3 gorgeous waterfalls, including one you can walk behind.

  • distance: 5 miles roundtrip
  • elevation gain: 740 feet
  • pass needed: no
  • waterfall?  yes
  • dog-friendly? yes
  • best for: waterfalls, intermediate hikers

 

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Difficult hikes in the Columbia Gorge

 

Dog mountain – Stevenson, Washington

A popular hike with steep trails and great views. Even though it’s relatively short, it’s an intense hike

  • distance: 6.9 miles roundtrip
  • elevation gain: 2820 feet
  • pass needed: NW Forest Pass
  • waterfall?  no
  • dog-friendly? yes
  • best for: wildflowers, views of the gorge

*Permits are required on Saturdays & Sundays from March 31 – July 1 for each individual hiker. $5/vehicle/day at Dog Mountain Trailhead

dog mountain washington hikes

Mount Defiance – Cascade Locks, Oregon

Mount Defiance is one of the hardest hikes in the Columbia River gorge area.

  • distance: 12.2 miles roundtrip
  • elevation gain: 4990 feet
  • pass needed: NW Forest Pass
  • waterfall?  no
  • dog-friendly? yes
  • best for: mountain views

Munra Point – Cascade Locks, Oregon

A steep and sometimes difficult climb to enjoy the incredible views at the top.

  • distance: 6 miles roundtrip
  • elevation gain: 2270 feet
  • pass needed:
  • waterfall?  no
  • dog-friendly? yes
  • best for: mountain views, wildflowers

 

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Tips for hiking in Oregon

  • We get a lot of rain in Oregon (especially Oct-May). Even if the weather is predicting sun, be prepared for rain.
  • Wear good hiking boots
  • If you want to see waterfalls, they are better in the winter/spring, when there has been more rain.

Other things to do and see in the Columbia Gorge

  • Vista House at Crown Point
  • Wine tasting
  • Do the Fruit Loop
  • Hood River Lavendar Farm
  • Try some breweries in Hood River
  • Rowena Crest Viewpoint
  • Try windsurfing in Hood River, the windsurfing capital of the world

Where to stay in the Columbia Gorge

Skamania Lodge – located in Stevenson, Washington, perfect for a romantic weekend, for golf lovers, or to enjoy the outdoors.

If you like staying at unique accommodations, check out these unusual places to stay in Oregon

Columbia Gorge Hotel and Spa –  a historic manor-like boutique hotel in Hood River, Oregon, one of the best hotels in the Gorge.

Westcliff Lodge – in Hood River, Oregon, on 5 acres of filled with pine trees and wildflowers overlooking the Columbia River.

How to get around the Columbia Gorge

The Columbia Gorge is an easy drive from Portland, taking only 30 minutes to the closest hike, Latourell Falls. If you don’t have a car, you can take the Gorge Express, which runs on the Oregon side all the way to Hood River.  During the summer months (May-October), there is a west end transit (WET) bus that you can take from Vancouver, Washington to the Dog Mountain Trailhead.