The Best Hikes near Hood River: A Complete Guide

Whether you’re just visiting for the day or spending a whole weekend in Hood River, you’ll have too many choices about how to spend your time. But one thing that needs to be at the top of your list is hiking!

As a Portlander, I frequently find myself in the windy city of Hood River as it makes the perfect home base for an aprés-hike drink after a day on the trails. Situated with quick access to waterfall-filled Columbia River Gorge adventures, mountainous Hood hikes, and high desert tromps, there is truly something here for everyone.

Here are ten unbeatable hikes near Hood River, all within an hour of town, that let you take full advantage of the wonderland that surrounds you.

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A Quick Hood River Geography Overview 

Hood River lies due east of Portland in the Columbia River Gorge. It’s just about an hour’s drive from PDX which makes it a popular destination for a day or weekend trip and you’ll see lots of local tourism.

It’s also situated directly north of Mount Hood at the confluence of the (you guessed it) Hood River and Columbia River. This makes the Hood River Valley rich for agriculture and the city is surrounded by apple, pear, and cherry orchards. 

To the east of town is a much more arid, desert climate. This area lies in the rain shadow of the Cascades so it sees significantly less precipitation than western Oregon, and with this the landscape changes to dry grasslands and rolling hills. 

All this is to say that Hood River is the perfect location for access to vastly different kinds of terrain in less than an hour’s drive!

The Best Hikes near Hood River

Here are 10 great Hood River hikes to add to your list for your trip.

Coyote Wall

  • Length: 6.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,624 feet
  • Trail Type: Lollipop-ish Loop
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Pass Required: No, but there is a $2.00 toll to cross the Hood River Bridge
  • Dog-Friendly: Yes, but watch out for ticks and snakes
  • Distance from Hood River: 8 miles, 15 minutes
  • Trailhead Location: Coyote Wall Trailhead

Coyote Wall is one of my favorites hikes on the Washington side, and since it’s so close to town it really takes the cake as one of the best Hood River hikes. If I lived here I swear I’d be out on those trails every day. 

There are over 30 miles of trail that you can access from the Coyote Wall trailhead and it can be a bit confusing at times to stay on the “right” trail, especially when you’re in the Labyrinth (where the trail weaves in and out of little waterfalls, oak groves, and meadows). However, the entire trail is exposed and if you get turned around just keep heading up (like Dory, “just keep climbing, just keep climbing.”)

This hike is accessible year-round and also has wildflowers aplenty in the late spring. It’s also very popular with mountain bikers, but there’s enough room and visibility that I’ve never encountered a problem sharing the area with them.

Coyote Wall itself is an imposing columnar basalt cliff that rises several hundred feet from the ground with some near-sheer drop offs. 

The views you can get from the wall are spectacular, but I speak for all mothers everywhere when I say, “be careful!” when you’re near the edge. 

Important note: Be aware of ticks, poison ivy, and rattlesnakes for humans, and foxtails for pups! Probably best to wear pants, even if it’s hot out.

Dog Mountain

  • Length: 6.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,988 feet
  • Trail Type: Lollipop Loop
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Pass Required: Northwest Forest Pass or America the Beautiful Pass AND a weekend permit during wildflower season (which changes each year, but is generally May through July)
  • Dog-Friendly: With a name like Dog Mountain – yes! But it is tough so make sure your furry friend is up for the challenge and you bring lots of extra water.
  • Distance from Hood River: 14 miles, 21 minutes
  • Trailhead Location: Dog Mountain Trailhead

Dog Mountain is one of the toughest hikes near Hood River, but also one of the most beautiful, especially in the late spring and early summer when the hillside is covered in wild yellow balsamroot flowers. 

In fact, the area is so popular for its wildflowers that they had to start a permit system to keep the number of visitors down.

They usually sell half of these permits at the beginning of wildflower season, then release the others three days in advance (so if you want to head up on a Saturday, grab your permits here on the Wednesday prior). 

Because of this, I highly recommend trying this hike on a weekday. It’s also gorgeous the rest of the year, so don’t shed too many tears if you’ve missed wildflower season.

The trail is a continuous upward march through shady, green forests and eventually you’ll emerge into alpine meadows. It can get incredibly windy up here, so even if you’re hiking in the summer you may want to bring a jacket for the top.

I’ve been up there when the wind’s been so bad I couldn’t even eat my lunch and had to retreat.

There are a couple different ways to get up to the top, but I prefer the slightly longer, counter-clockwise loop that makes use of Augspurger Trail. 

Tom McCall Point

  • Length: 4.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,309 feet
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Pass Required: No, but the trail runs through a Nature Conservancy and is only open March 1st to October 31st to protect the ecosystem.
  • Dog-Friendly: No
  • Distance from Hood River: 14 miles, 22 minutes
  • Trailhead Location: Rowena Crest Trailhead

This hike is special because it takes you east of town into the semi-arid region of the state where you’ll be surrounded by rolling hills and have sweeping views of the Gorge, Mount Hood, and Mount Adams.

A lot of Hood River hiking guides stick mostly to the abundant Gorge hikes to the west, but this one will give you a decidedly different vibe. I love this trail because of its different terrain, large oak trees, sunshine (usually), and wildflowers (maybe even better than Dog Mountain? You be the judge!).

The trail is very exposed so if you’re used to hiking under the shade of pine trees, you need to remember to wear a hat and sunscreen. There’s also a fair amount of poison oak and ticks, so long pants are recommended. 

Important note: Because the area is a protected nature conservancy, dogs aren’t allowed and hikers are asked to stay on the trail. 

Spirit Falls 

  • Length: 0.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 505 feet
  • Trail Type: Out & Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Hard
  • Pass Required: No, but there is a $2.00 toll to cross the Hood River Bridge
  • Dog-Friendly: Yes, but it’s a tough scramble so you may want to leave them at home
  • Distance from Hood River: 14 miles, 22 minutes
  • Trailhead Location: Cook-Underwood Road

I’ll confess upfront that this is the only hike on the list that I haven’t done personally, but it’s been on my radar for a while and researching this guide has reignited my interest to see what all the fuss is about!

These falls look so gorgeous and I love the idea of this magical, hidden away oasis that you have to clamor down into on your hands and knees.

This hike is very short, but also very steep. Bring hiking poles or grab a good walking stick to help steady you as you make your way down. Also, if it’s been raining it will be very muddy and there’s a good chance you’ll fall on your butt.

The hike back is pretty much straight up and will surely give your calves a workout. But, the turquoise falls at the end should be completely worth it!

Dry Creek Falls

  • Length: 4.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 885 feet
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Pass Required: Northwest Forest Pass or America the Beautiful Pass if you park at the Bridge of the Gods trailhead
  • Dog-Friendly: Yes
  • Distance from Hood River: 20 miles, 23 minutes
  • Trailhead Location: Bridge of the Gods Trailhead or Harvey Road Trailhead

There are two trailheads you can take to get to Dry Creek Falls and they’re only a few hundred feet apart from each other.

If you already have a NW Forest Pass and you can get a spot at the Bridge of the Gods trailhead (there are only about 10 spots with no options for side-of-the-road parking), start there only because they have bathrooms. If not, drive to the Harvey Road trailhead.

Dry Creek Falls is a relatively short and easy hike and the payoff at the end is huge.

The falls stand at 74 feet and when you get to it, it feels like it’s been tucked away in a private amphitheater just for you. The whole route is lush and wooded and since it doesn’t see much elevation gain you can pretty much do this any time of the year. 

Unfortunately, this area was hit by the 2017 Eagle Creek fires, so you’ll see many charred trees, but you’ll also be inspired by the irrepressible life of the forest and its ability to rebound from such tragic events.

Tamanawas Falls 

  • Length: 3.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 580 feet
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Pass Required: Northwest Forest Pass or America the Beautiful Pass 
  • Dog-Friendly: Yes
  • Distance from Hood River: 25 miles, 30 minutes
  • Trailhead Location: Tamanawas Falls Trailhead

Tamanawas Falls is easily one of the best hikes near Hood River. Though there’s not a lot of elevation gain, the trail does start at 3,000 feet so you’re likely to see snow through the spring making it an excellent snowshoe option if there’s been recent snowfall; however, if the snow is packed down and icy, opt for microspikes. 

The winter will also give you the added bonus of seeing the amphitheater surrounding the falls crystalized over with ice. In the spring and summer, there won’t be a ton of water flow but you will see tons of wildflowers.

This area also has a lot of deciduous trees, so the fall is equally beautiful for the autumn leaves.

At 110 feet, Tamanawas Falls is truly breathtaking and the hike to get there follows the babbling Cold Spring Creek that’s fed by the falls. There are also a number of mini-falls along the trail making this a great hike for kids as it keeps their interest.

If you’ve got decent shoes on you can even scramble back behind the falls!

Beacon Rock

  • Length: 1.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 574 feet
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Pass Required: Discover Pass, plus $2 toll both ways to cross the Bridge of the Gods
  • Dog-Friendly: Yes
  • Distance from Hood River: 27 miles, 33 minutes
  • Trailhead Location: Beacon Rock Trailhead

Beacon Rock is a short but powerful little hike that everyone should do at least once, and is a great option to do with kids (except maybe not the littlest ones).

A perfect day for me would start with a hike up Beacon Rock, then move on to a tour at Bonneville Dam (and it’s free!). I’ve visited the dam at least a dozen times in my adult life and I unashamedly love it. 

Beacon Rock (named by none other than Lewis and Clark) is an 874 foot monolith (one of the tallest in North America) that’s clearly visible to anyone approaching since it basically sits right on the edge of the Columbia River. It’s actually the 57,000 years old remnants of a cinder cone volcano!

The trail itself is over 100 years old making it one of the oldest in the area, and climbs pretty much straight up the west side of the rock through a series of over 50 switchbacks. There are handrails for almost all of it, but if you’re inclined to vertigo this one may not be for you.

Most of the trail is exposed which can make the sun feel extra warm or the wind feel extra frigid. Whichever is the case, come prepared with a windbreaker and hat. 

Bald Mountain via Lolo Pass

  • Length: 6.7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,489 feet
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Pass Required: No
  • Dog-Friendly: Yes
  • Distance from Hood River: 30 miles, 1 hour
  • Trailhead Location: Lolo Pass Trailhead

This is one of the furthest hikes away from Hood River in drive time, but you’re just so close to the mountain that I had to include a couple classic Hood hikes.

Since you’ll be getting up to around 4,500 feet, this trail will likely only be doable in the summer and fall. If you’re going to tackle it when there’s still snow on the ground I’d recommend microspikes and a GPS unit because the trail can be a little hard to follow. 

For some reason, Bald Mountain never sees as much traffic as its neighbors even though the views from the top are spectacular! This is good news for you because you’ll likely have no problem finding a parking spot and you may even have the summit all to yourself!

Because the trail isn’t regularly maintained, you may have to crawl over some downed trees, but it shouldn’t be too difficult. I think this hike is the perfect combination of solitude in nature, a decent workout, and awe-inspiring views from the top.

Falls Creek Falls

  • Length: 3.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 695 feet
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Easy / Moderate
  • Pass Required: No
  • Dog-Friendly: Yes
  • Distance from Hood River: 38 miles, 55 minutes
  • Trailhead Location: Falls Creek Falls trailhead – note that the access road to the trailhead is closed December 1 to March 31, but you can still park at the gate and walk the 1 ½ miles to the trailhead.

This is a lovely hike that’s doable most times of the year, but you may encounter some snow in the winter months. However, due to the relatively low elevation gain, this hike is almost always doable in the winter, so strap on some snowshoes or microspikes and get on it!

It’s also worth noting that the road getting to the trailhead is very rough and you should not attempt it without a high-clearance vehicle. Nevertheless, this is a popular trail and you’ll often find the parking area packed on the weekends.

Falls Creek Falls has three tiers that total an impressive 335 feet.

From this trail you can really only see the bottom two tiers (which are massive and worth it), but if you want to get a glimpse of the upper falls you’ll have to take trail #152 which makes for a nice (but longer loop) that you can find here

Tom, Dick and Harry Mountain

Tom, Dick and Harry Mountain is actually three peaks of a ridge (hence the name), with Tom being the highest point at 5,066 feet.

The trailhead and the first mile or two of the hike are almost always busy, but the majority of people only go so far as Mirror Lake. When you continue up past the lake you’ll see fewer people. 

The route as described only takes you to the Harry summit, which is fantastic and you’ll get killer views of Mount Hood and the surrounding forests.

However, if you’ve got the time and energy you can (and should) scout your way along the top of the ridge to see the views from Dick and Tom as well. 

At these peaks, you’ll see far fewer people and will likely have the mountain all to yourself. There’s a somewhat-defined trail that takes you there, but it can be hard to follow at times so be prepared to do some backtracking/trailblazing.

That said, you’ll be hiking along a ridge so there aren’t too many wrong turns you can make!

When to Go Hiking around Hood River 

The best time of year to go hiking near Hood River really depends on where you go. 

Many of the lower-elevation hikes in the Gorge are accessible year round, but when you start getting over 2,000 or 3,000 feet, you’ll likely encounter snow in the winter which make some of the Hood hikes trickier.

That said, a couple of these make exceptional snowshoe hikes (and I’ll note these in the descriptions below). Plus, you can rent snowshoes in town at Doug’s Hood River or Pure Stoke

Figuring out the best time of year will also depend on what you want to get out of your hike. 

If you’re on the hunt for wildflowers, then late spring or early summer will be your best bet. 

If you want gushing waterfalls then early spring or winter is better. 

If you’re aching for the sun and a cool swim spot, then summer or early fall will be best though you will have mosquitos to contend with through August.

I personally like hiking year-round because I’ve been in this area for so long and have walked these trails countless times. My experience changes from one season to the next along with the landscape. Whether the trail is covered in quiet snow, drenched in rain, or baking in the heat—it all makes me appreciate the cyclical nature of life.

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