Avoid Crowds. Plan Before you Go.
Visitation to the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area often exceeds automobile capacity on both the Oregon and Washington side of the Columbia River.
During the summer months, some of the most popular trailheads, viewpoints and hikes receive thousands of visitors a day. The wildly popular Multnomah Falls parking lot is often closed due to over-capacity. To avoid crowds and congestion along the roads and trails, follow these tips. You’ll be rewarded with stunning views and solitude.
NOTE: Many people travel to Columbia Gorge by driving or biking the Historic Columbia River Gorge Highway and State Trail (Route 30). This scenic route provides access to many trails along the Oregon side of the Gorge. Due to the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire, Route 30 between Bridal Veil and Hood River remains closed. Go here for updates.
The Eagle Creek Fire resulted in numerous trail closures on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Go here to get up-to-date information about road and trail closures in the Gorge. Looking for alternative hiking trails nearby? Check out this list of great options.
Aim to finish your hike before 10 a.m. to avoid congestion at popular destinations. You'll be rewarded with stunning views and solitude.
Hike the less popular but equally beautiful hikes in the eastern Gorge (beyond the popular Waterfall Corridor). Or, consider doing your trip in reverse order (starting in The Dalles and driving west).
Hike the less popular but equally beautiful hikes on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge.
Visit the Gorge at a slower pace by visiting Tuesday–Thursday. The weekends are the busiest times to visit the Gorge, especially between April and October. You’ll avoid crowds if you can visit mid-week. Even better, consider planning a midweek multi-day stay to check out the towns, museums, wineries and other attractions throughout the Scenic Area.
Find a Hike
Need help finding a hike that meets your group's skills and level of expertise? Use Friends of the Columbia Gorge’s Find a Hike tool to search by trail feature, distance and difficulty level.
GO EARLY: Steigerwald Lake
Listen to the song birds while you take an early morning stroll through Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge. This flat, one-mile hike takes you to the edge of the Columbia River.More Info
GO EAST: Columbia Hills State Park
With 12.5 miles of hiking trails, rock climbing, swimming and more, Columbia Hills State Park is a secret gem at the eastern end of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.More Info
GO MIDWEEK: Dog Mountain Loop Trail
A popular trail during the spring wildflower season, the strenuous Dog Mountain Trail now requires permits on Saturdays and Sundays, March 31-July 1. Avoid the crowds by visiting this scenic trail midweek.More Info