This was a doozy of a hike, not necessarily because it was difficult or far, but because it was confusing and extremely hot! This is another Columbia River Gorge hike that gives you a nice view to the east where the lush green forests of the gorge give way to dry rolling hills. I didn’t mean to go on this hike on this particular day. I was trying to hike Dog Mountain about 20 miles back to the west, but unfortunately a multitude of things like my NW Forest Pass being expired led to me getting to the trailhead too late. When I got to Dog Mountain there was absolutely no parking, and after waiting for a spot for about 10 minutes I decided I would move on to somewhere else.
I had this hike on my list for quite some time, and it wasn’t too far away, so I decided to go for it. This was back in early June and this happened to be the hottest day of the year (at the point). My planned hike would have taken me through mostly forested terrain with a small bit of exposure on top, so I didn’t bring any sunscreen. Fatal mistake. From the start of this hike I could tell I was going to have a nasty sunburn unless I wore my jacket the entire time and pulled my leggings down as far as they could go. I ended up with a nice sunburned stripe on the back of my calves, but my jacket saved the day for the rest of me!
An honest assessment of this hike is that it was ok. There is a nice view of Mt. Hood from the top but the wall itself is easily seen from the start of the trail, and then you proceed to go up on top of it and walk semi-close to the edge of the wall for the entire time. You aren’t really seeing the wall as you hike along it unless you go off the trail and over to the edge and peer over.
This area is also pretty confusing for hikers because a lot of mountain bikers use this area which means there are tons of small trails going every which way. Just stick to the left and keep going left whenever possible and you’ll make it to the wall. Once I got to the top I could see the trail continued on but was less traveled from there. When I went into the trees I could see poison oak all around me, and since there was a good chance I might brush up against it at some point I decided to head back down to the labyrinth portion. I got lost several times on my way there (I know, it’s a labyrinth right?) and ended up almost to the road north of the trail area before checking gps and turning around. When I finally made it to the Labyrinth area it wasn’t really like a maze anymore since they had put up multiple signs saying to stay on the trail. The problem was that the real trail wasn’t marked very well, so I difficulty seeing which trail was the right one. There were a few interesting rock formations in this portion and a small little stream running through, but that was about it. Since it was mostly exposed and very hot that day, I was ready to get back to the car by this time. I headed down, down, down, hoping to meet up with the original trail I was trying to loop out on. Eventually my hard work paid off, and I made it back to my car with my victory sunburn!
I think I might hike this during winter, fall, or early spring, since there’s a better chance that it might be sunny during those times. I think it might be a little more rewarding that way instead of hiking straight up a steep hill on the hottest day of the year (so far).