Spring is here and summer is approaching quickly in the Columbia Gorge. With many recent re-openings of trails and people ready to step foot into the sunshine and fresh air, the Gorge trails are likely to be more packed than ever.
Friends urges you to stay socially distant on the trails and observe your surroundings before deciding whether to hike. And, have a back-up hike if the trailhead is too crowded and you’re looking for a hike that has less people. Every year, in May and early June, the Dog Mountain Trail draws visitors from far and wide, to witness the wildflowers blooming at the top while soaking in the gorgeous views. Due to its popularity, permits are required to access to the trail.
Permits will be required from April 24 - June 13, 2021 Saturdays and Sundays only, and on Memorial Day, Monday, May 31, 2021.
There are two ways for hikers to obtain permits:
The first option: ride the shuttle from Stevenson. A permit is included automatically with the cost of the Skamania County West End Transit bus from Skamania Fairgrounds in Stevenson. Seats are available on a first come, first served basis, and in lieu of the previously required $1 per person each way fee, donations will be accepted and encouraged. Each permit is good for one individual on the day it is issued. The shuttle runs about every 30 minutes from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekends from April 24 to June 13. The last shuttle to depart Stevenson will be 1:00 p.m. and the final shuttle departing the trail head will be at 5 p.m. Shuttle frequency will increase to every 15 minutes in the month of May. Shuttle capacity will adhere to current CDC physical distancing requirements in place.
The second option: reserve a permit online. Anyone not taking the shuttle will need to reserve one permit for each person online at www.recreation.gov and pay the $1.00 non-refundable administrative fee (per person) in addition to paying the recreation site fee of $5 per car. Valid Northwest Forest or interagency federal passes are accepted (but not state parks passes) as a form of paying the recreation fee but are not a substitute for having the per person permit.
Note that parking is limited at the trailhead. The spring hiking permits are required in addition to a parking pass. Having a hiking permit does not ensure a parking spot.
Online permits will be available at www.recreation.gov.
The stunning views and unparalleled springtime flowers make this one of the most popular hikes in the Gorge for a good reason. On a good day, you can get a bird’s eye view of Mount Hood and the Columbia River. In the spring, the top is carpeted with vibrant yellow balsamroot.
However, these magical gifts of nature only remain pristine if we treat the trails and the Gorge communities that surround them with respect. To help keep the trails open and local
communities safe, I urge everyone to plan before they leave home and prepare for enjoying the Gorge safely and sustainably by checking sites like ReadySetGorge.com to find out the latest on what’s open and current trail safety advisories. And if a trailhead is too crowded or the parking lot is full, try a secondary location. Parking on the side of busy highways like SR14 can be dangerous and in some places is illegal.
If you do decide to get a permit and hike Dog Mountain, or visit any Gorge trail, Friends urges you to pack out any trash (including doggy poop bags) to help reduce the burden on land managers and impact on local wildlife and fauna so that we can ALL appreciate the wonders of the Gorge this spring and summertime.
Thank you for your efforts in protecting and stewarding the Gorge!