Conditioning hikes near Portland, Oregon

During the colder months when higher elevation trails are covered in snow, I like to stay in shape by doing conditioning hikes in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon Coast Range, and lower elevations near Mount Hood. All of these trails are within a one hour drive of Portland, Oregon.

Posted for each are stats including the high point reached so you can check conditions based on snow levels. Some of these hikes require a pass for parking: either the Northwest Forest Pass or the Discover Pass.

Columbia River Gorge – Oregon

Wahkeena-Angels-Devils loop

Wahkeena Angels Devils loop hike

This is a great conditioning hike that starts at the Wahkeena trailhead, goes up to Wahkeena Springs, over to Angels Rest, then up to Devils Rest before heading back down to the Vista Point Trail and finally, returning to the Wahkeena Trail and the trailhead.

distance: 8.3 miles (out and back)
elevation gain: 2,730 ft
high point: 2,435 ft
hike description: OregonHikers.org: Angels Rest-Devils Rest Loop Hike
trip report: Wahkeena-Angels-Devils loop
drive time from Portland: 40 minutes
parking pass: none

Angels-Devils-Wahkeena loop

Angels Rest - Devils Rest - Wahkeena Spring loop hike

This strenuous loop hike starts at Angels Rest, continues to Devils Rest, then heads down to Wahkeena Spring before going back up to Angels Rest. If you time the hike to reach the return to Angels Rest at sunset, be prepared to hike out several miles in the dark.

distance: 10.8 miles (roundtrip loop)
elevation gain: 3,040 ft
high point: 2,435 ft
hike description: OregonHikers.org: Angels Rest-Devils Rest Loop Hike
trip report: Angels-Devils-Wahkeena loop
drive time from Portland: 40 minutes
parking pass: none

Herman Creek to Casey Creek

Herman Creek to Casey Creek hike

The Herman Creek area is less visited than most areas on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. With several trail options, it’s a great place for a cloudy day. This hike starts at the Herman Creek trailhead and stays on the Herman Creek trail for 4 miles to a former campsite at Casey Creek, passing Nick Eaton Falls on the way. In spite of the name of the trail, this hike is not next to Herman Creek. Instead, there are several tributary creeks with small waterfalls that the trail crosses as it goes through the forest.

distance: 8 miles (out and back)
elevation gain: 1,800 ft
high point: 1,520 ft
hike description: OregonHikers.org: Herman Creek Trail
trip report: Herman Creek to Casey Creek (after the wildfire report)
drive time from Portland: 1 hour
parking pass: NW Forest Pass

Herman Creek Pinnacles & Dry Creek Falls

Dry Creek Falls hike

This hike starts at the Herman Creek trailhead and takes the Herman Creek trail to the Pacific Crest trail, crossing Herman Creek on a footbridge and passing by Pacific Crest Falls and the Herman Creek Pinnacles before continuing to Dry Creek Falls.

distance: 9 miles (out and back)
elevation gain: 1,800 ft
high point: 975 ft
trip report: Herman Creek Pinnacles & Dry Creek Falls
drive time from Portland: 1 hour
parking pass: NW Forest Pass

Columbia River Gorge – Washington

Hardy Ridge

Hardy Ridge loop hike

At Beacon Rock State Park, several former logging roads have been gated and turned into trails. Beacon Rock and Hamilton Mountain are the more popular destinations here, while Hardy Ridge is far less crowded. This hike starts at the equestrian trailhead. The lower part of the trail is through forest on closed forest roads, then a narrower trail switchbacks up a forested ridge to the upper portion of trail on a rocky ridge with sweeping views of the Gorge.

distance: 8.1 miles (roundtrip loop)
elevation gain: 2,200 ft
high point: 2,957 ft
hike description: OregonHikers.org: Hardy Ridge Loop Hike
trip report: Hardy Ridge hike
drive time from Portland: 1 hour
parking pass: Discover Pass

Hamilton Mountain

Hamilton Mountain hike

The hike up to the summit of Hamilton Mountain offers many rewards, with several waterfalls on Hardy Creek, interesting rock formations, and sweeping views of the Columbia River Gorge. The trail is quite steep in sections, so you have to work for the rewards. It’s also very popular so plan to arrive early or hike mid-week if possible.

distance: 7.5 miles (roundtrip loop)
elevation gain: 2,100 ft
high point: 2,438 ft
hike description: OregonHikers.org: Hamilton Mountain Loop Hike
trip report: Hamilton Mountain
drive time from Portland: 1 hour
parking pass: Discover Pass

Oregon Coast Range

Wilson River Trail – Keenig Creek to Jones Creek shuttle hike

hike - Wilson River Trail - Keenig Creek to Jones Creek

Located in the Oregon Coast Range, the Wilson River Trail runs for about 24 miles with multiple trailheads located just off Highway 6. This shuttle hike starts at the Keenig Creek trailhead and ends at the Jones Creek trailhead.

distance: 10.5 miles (shuttle hike)
elevation gain: 1,650 ft
high point: 1,165 ft
hike description: OregonHikers.org – see Keenig Creek section
trip report: Wilson River Trail – Keenig to Jones section
drive time from Portland: 1 hour
parking pass: none

Wilson River Trail – Jones Creek to Kings Mountain shuttle hike

Wilson River Trail - Lester Creek Pinnacles hike

This shuttle hike on the Wilson River Trail begins at the Jones Creek trailhead and ends at the Kings Mountain trailhead. Along the way, travel through dense forest filled with moss and ferns. Highlights including Lester Creek Falls and views of the Coast Range mountains.

distance: 7.2 miles (shuttle hike)
elevation gain: 1,800 ft
high point: 1,835 ft
hike description: OregonHikers.org – Wilson River Trail (see sections 2 & 3, which we did in the opposite direction)
trip report: Wilson River Trail – Jones Creek to Kings Mountain
drive time from Portland: 1 hour
parking pass: none

Gales Creek Trail

Gales Creek hike

Popular with mountain bikers, the Gales Creek trail follows Gales Creek through a coastal rainforest of Douglas fir and red alders, with a thick understory of ferns and oxalis. This hike begins at the Gales Creek campground, accessed via Highway 6. The Gales Creek trail travels through forest for 13.6 miles to the Bell Camp Road trailhead, so you can hike as far as you want before heading back.

distance: 8 miles, with and option to extend up to 26+ miles (out and back)
elevation gain: 800 – 2,040 ft, depending on the distance you choose to do
high point: 2,520 ft
hike description: OregonHikers.org – Gales Creek hike
trip report: Gales Creek
drive time from Portland: 45 minutes
parking pass: none

Kings Mountain

Kings Mountain hike

The trail to the summit of Kings Mountain is steep – with 2,500 ft of elevation gain in 2.5 miles. At the top are expansive views of Oregon’s Coast Range. Don’t forget to sign the summit register!

distance: 5 miles (out and back)
elevation gain: 2,545 ft
high point: 3,226 ft
hike description: OregonHikers.org: Kings Mountain Hike
trip report: Kings Mountain
drive time from Portland: 1 hour
parking pass: none

Mount Hood area

Salmon River Canyon to Goat Creek

Salmon River Canyon - Goat Creek backpacking trip

This hike begins at the Salmon River West trailhead, traversing through beautiful moss-filled forest next to the Salmon River before reaching a canyon viewpoint. Continue for another 1.5 miles to Goat Creek for a longer hike before turning around to head back.

distance: 11 miles (out and back)
elevation gain: 1,500 ft
high point: 2,490 ft
hike description: OregonHikers.org: Salmon River Hike
trip report: Salmon River Canyon to Goat Creek backpacking trip
drive time from Portland: 1 hour 15 minutes
parking pass: NW Forest Pass

Boulder Ridge to Huckleberry Mountain

Boulder Ridge hike

The Boulder Ridge Trail begins at the Wildwood Recreation Site in Welches, Oregon. As soon as you park, you can hear the rushing water of the Salmon River. The trail begins with a bridge over the river, then goes through a flat section of super green forest before heading up the ridge and eventually, all the way to the summit of Huckleberry Mountain.

distance: 10.6 miles (out and back)
elevation gain: 3,450 ft gain
high point: 4,300 ft
hike description: OregonHikers.org: Boulder Ridge to Huckleberry Mountain Hike
trip report: Boulder Ridge & Huckleberry Mountain
drive time from Portland: 1 hour
parking pass: NW Forest Pass