Gathering photos and facts to review trails has become a fun part of my adventures and I hope you enjoy my trail guide posts. Between training and just enjoying the amazing outdoors, I end up back on many of the same routes but an update rarely makes sense.
Still, there seems a shortage of updated trail condition reports and it’s often not until I show up at the trailhead that I know for sure if there’s snow, obstacles, or even trail closures to contend with. To help solve this, I’m logging my Oregon, Washington and California trail visits on this page and encourage everyone else hitting the dirt to do the same on their blog, favorite forums or even here in this page’s comments. Let’s make it easy to find what’s happening on our favorite spots! (As a warning: these conditions are my experience only, trails can change quickly, hiking & climbing is inherently dangerous so check official resources for how to prepare and the latest updates.)
Last Updated 5/22/2017. My archive has updates from before October, 2016.
Easy to Moderate PNW Day Hikes
- Multnomah Falls @ Columbia River Gorge, Oregon:
- 4/30/2017 – Spring days at the falls mean lots of crowds on the trail with a raging fall to help make it all worth while. The trail up is in good shape though on my last few hikes it’s ranged from dry to slick so be sure to bring shoes with decent traction. Also seeing lots of people without anything, even water, and while I know it’s not a long trek, it is a climb so don’t underestimate having those essentials handy especially as it starts to warm up out there. Beyond the falls you’ll find a lot of water running across the trail and a little patch of snow hanging on around Weisendanger Falls (more above it on the way to Larch I hear.)
- 2/5/2017 – Winter has returned for another round in the gorge with big rigs wrecked off the side of highway 84, cars ditched at trailheads and basically it’s pretty sketch out there this weekend. Parking on the highway 84 lot for the falls, things were a combination of ice, slush and snow right out of the driver’s seat and that continues up to the lodge though the crews there continue their awesome efforts carving a path at least part way. No power currently so no facilities, not that they’d be open anyways (note: this includes the restrooms as of this post.) Lots of snow around the lower viewpoint while the gates for the upper were closed up again and with the rain, few people wanted to push that boundary this time.
- 1/16/2017 – The gorge is covered in ice and snow on the ground so it should be no surprised that the falls are absolutely frozen in. Unfortunately with the popularity of the trail, closures come fast and everything above the lower falls was technically off limits. Plenty of people walked around the gate and up to the bridge (a few beyond that from what I could see) with no one stopping them but I figured it was best to head elsewhere myself. Traction system required.
- 12/11/2016 – While the main parking areas have been plowed out, many of the overflow spots and pathways around the area remain snow covered. The trail up to the bridge is completely snowed over as well though heavy usage has worn in a good boot path. In soft snow expect some easy slipping while harder snow in the mornings is likely to be far more treacherous. No freezing on the bridge or around the bend but plenty more snow.
- Cape Horn @ Columbia River Gorge, Washington:
- 4/2/2017 – Hello nice weather crowds… Arrived at the lot around 11am after hiking on Hood to find all the spots and nearby road overflow filled up though I was quickly able to snag a space. Heading up the trail with plenty of others around, the markers, sign posts and other details are in good order with no major trail obstacles to report. Recent rains have made the trail pretty muddy so bring something to wash your shoes off with and watch your traction on the descent, especially around the few exposed turns at the viewpoint. Despite how busy it was, people were super friendly, glad to move over (or happy to be given room to pass) and it was just all around nice out!
- Elowah Falls @ Columbia River Gorge, Oregon:
- 12/13/2016 – The parking lot has been cleared out making it easy to start the hike though you’ll be on snow pretty much the entire time out and back. The initial walk into the forest is easy going on compact snow but as you start the descent down to the falls, the switchbacks get quite slick with the remaining snow. Not much ice around the falls themselves at this point though it would just take a couple more degree drop for that to change. Bring microspikes / shoe traction for this one.
- Angel’s Rest @ Columbia River Gorge, Oregon:
- 4/5/2017 – A few dry days have worked wonders on the trail as most of the mud and puddles have dried on up making for an easy path from the parking lot to the summit. Of course this brought plenty of crowds to the trail but such is Spring! No hazards, obstacles or other issues on the route to report. There’s a little loose dirt on the climb to the top to watch out for along with the 2-move scramble finish but otherwise it’s all walking on Angel’s Rest!
- 3/16/2017 – Spring is making its way into the gorge with raging waterfalls, muddy trails and plenty of signs of new life (snakes includes, yuck!) Busy day on the trail now that the sun is starting to show up and especially with how many other hikes have been impacted by the serious weather limiting accessibility. Beyond a lot of mud in the middle to upper section of the trail, there are no major issues or hazards to report. Have fun out there!
- 1/23/2017 – Much of the snow and ice from last week has melted out over the past few wam[er] and sun[ier] days leaving the trail is nice shape all things considered. There’s still plenty of snow out there and the trail starts on slush and ice from the sign post up with a few fallen trees and lots of debris around. The first 1/4th of the trail is well shaded and where you’ll find most of the slickest spots along the entire trail though even that is showing signs of melting up. By the switchbacks at the half way point, solar exposure has melted things out completely revealing the trail’s actual dirt path. A few higher switchbacks are covered in slushy snow here, clear sailing over the rock field and then one last snow stretch as you wind up towards the summit plateau which is very muddy but winter free. Microspikes remain a good idea though it’s certainly possible to get by without them.
- 1/17/2017 – Ice, snow and my first ever time having to bail before a summit at Angel’s — yup, winter is that serious in the gorge this year. Things are interesting from the start with a very icy parking lot and a mound of snow to get over just to get into it. The trail is entirely snow covered early on with spots of thick ice as you make your way up but the first half is very accessible in winter gear. Moving up to towards the rocks and into the open, ice builds up quickly. At first this is easily sovled with a decent traction system but about 3/4 of the way up I ran into a thick, wet sheet of ice at a steep incline which my microspikes struggled to find good traction on. After chopping out steps through part of it but seeing more ahead, I decided to call the hike as a solo visitor and head back. Reports from others and a few sets of foot prints suggest that with a little gumption people are getting to the top but with the forecast rain and low temps, be real careful out there. Traction system required, ice axe is probably a good idea too.
- 12/5/2016 – Winter has yet to freeze up the lower hills of the gorge but the wet weather has definitely taken its toll. Almost from the parking lot up, Angel’s Rest is mud city with the trail ranging from just a little wet to something resembling a slip and slide. Nothing that stops a successful hike and conditions up top were about perfect but boots, long pants and shoes to change into back at the car would be a very good idea.
- Kings Mountain @ Tillamook Forest, Oregon:
- Dog Mountain @ Columbia River Gorge, Washington:
- 5/3/2017 – Hello Spring (finally.) The snow has all melted, the trail is starting to dry up and there’s signs of the wildflowers (note, signs as in just the start of things, the flowers are not out yet.) Of course nice conditions also mean crowds and even middle of a week day it took me a few minutes to get a parking spot in the lot though the trail really did not feel that busy heading on up. There is some mud in the shady spots to contend with and it’s definitely slick in some of the steeper spots on the way up or down so if you don’t love the idea of the main route back, take the long loop (keep going at the final trail sign) for a gentler option.
- [To second trail junction] 1/26/2017 – Conditions have improved drastically over the last week as the trail melts down but that doesn’t make the place easy, to the contrary, slick snow and packed snow have combined forces to make for quite the adventure! Set out mid afternoon to find the switchbacks still snow covered from the trailhead but much more manageable. This turned out to be the hardest part of the hike I went on as the steep cliffs of the section and shade from above has left plenty of slick, packed snow to traverse up and down. Reaching the junction above the switchbacks, I went with the less difficult route and found a very nice boot path all the way up to the view point though it was still slow going on the varying snow which of course got deeper with each step up. After a lot of postholing in the increasingly soft snow, I made it up to where the trails reconnect and decided that was enough for the day and returned to the car. Just 3 others seen on the trail, total.
- [To switchbacks] 1/20/2016 – Snow and ice and more ice and snowy ice! Made it out to Dog Mountain just before parts of highway 14 were shut down due to accidents. Unfortunately conditions were not much better on the trail and after fighting up a few of the switchbacks which were snow covered and then frozen down, I decided there was no need to risk adding another incident to the day (ok, I wasn’t feeling it and bailed). Can’t speak for conditions above of course but as the problem areas were just on the more exposed parts of the trail, I’m betting a more ambitious group will get to the top in the next couple days.
- 11/2016 – Forgot to log this one when I completed it but Dog Mountain is looking good for the winter season! The parking lot has a few larger potholes around the turn off but is mostly holding up and the spots certainly are not needed this time of year. Restrooms and pay station remain opened and well stocked while the trail its self is in solid condition on both the more and less difficult forks. It’s getting pretty chilly on the mountain and the upper slopes had plenty of frost (plus a little wind transported snow) when I hiked up with more certainly on the way. You can see snow buildup clear across the gorge on Mount Defiance at or below the same elevation… winter is here!
- Eagle Creek @ Columbia River Gorge, Oregon:
- 1/16/2017 – Reports (and photos) from a couple friends who went out to Eagle Creek yesterday shows that the place is an and epic and terrifying land of ice. Huge build up along parts of the trail with ice to watch out for above as well. The chain is a good tool to help but microspikes or more would be very smart here.
- Munra Point @ Columbia River Gorge, Oregon:
- Wahkeena Falls @ Columbia River Gorge, Oregon:
- 12/13/2016 – Snow from the parking lot and on up! Spots were partially cleared out, enough to fit safely in the main lot but most of the overflow area remains inaccessible. The trail up to the bridge (and beyond) was covered in a thick layer of solid snow and ice. The first half is relatively easy going up and down but much of the switchback section is covered over leaving just a narrow boot path worn in which was quite slick. Microspikes or similar shoe traction is a very good idea until the snow melts out.
- Hamilton Mountain @ Southern Washington:
- Beacon Rock @ Southern Washington:
- 12/16/2016 – With the recent storms in the gorge it should come as no surprise that Beacon Rock is snow and ice covered. While the trail is still accesible and has clear signs of a lot of visitors helping speed up the melt out, the place is slick and just waiting for a fall. Even though Beacon is a short climb, it’s cold, wind exposed and easy to trip. Watched several groups go up with no gear and many more inch down hanging onto the side rails. Throw on some micro-spikes and it’s a great day! Restrooms, parking lot are open, Hamilton Mtn road is not.
- 10/26/2016 – Wet day on the trail which Beacon partly shelters and then partly upped the ante for as the winds can whip the storm right around. The parking lot is a little muddy but that’s really the only navigation issue from top to bottom. Trailhead bathrooms are open, water is still available and the trail was in good shape despite the wet terrain. Obviously winter weather makes it extra important to watch your footing with the rocks and big drops but really the trail handles it well.
- Silver Star Mountain @ Southern Washington:
- 10/29/2016 [Grouse Vista to Summit] – Of all the times I’ve been up to Silver Star this way, the dirt road is certainly in the worst condition I’ve seen it. Nothing that would stop any car from getting to the trailhead but lots of poleholes, mud spots and washout to just be mindful of from the wet weather. This carries through to the trail which is covered in leaves and water from all the recent rains though there are no obstacles, navigation issues or real hazards at any point — simply a good time to pick a higher cut boot, grab a trekking pole and watch your steps. Great summit day though the winter winds and cold temps are certainly just around the corner!
- Trillium Lake @ Mount Hood National Forest:
- 12/18/2016 – Snow for days! Heading out of the parking lot (which was well plowed but very full on a Sunday afternoon), it was instantly clear how much thing have changed in a few weeks with feet upon feet of snow from the start. Right now that snow is good, pretty firm on the path, very fluffy off it with more expected on the way this week so expect to be breaking some trails again by the end of the year. Around the lake signs that are 5′ tall are nearly covered and the water is snowed over completely. Lake conditions are ice to slush so watch your footing as you wander around.
- 11/29/2016 – The road has closed down for the winter season with just enough snow to make it pretty much impassible even if things had been open. With the fairly moderate snow levels at this early season date, it’s sink and pluge step conditions so snowshoe up. The lake waters remain accessible though they’re starting to freeze over.
- 10/19/2016 – While there’s plenty of signs of winter creeping in around Government Camp and highway 26, there was no signs of any major snow activity around the lake for my visit. The road from the highway parking lot remains open to the lake though trails around it are very damp with all the recent rain and cold.
- Saddle Mountain @ Seaside, OR
- 11/25/2016 – Saddle Mountain remains open with no signs of snow or freezing yet though the road (and trail) are wet! Expect lots of splashes, potholes and branches down on the 30+ minute drive up. At the parking lot you’ll find the restrooms are closed and one handicap sized portable has been brought up for use. Despite the numerous streams that have taken over parts of the lower and middle stretches, the trail is in great shape thanks to the chicken wire and rigorous build up. There are a few downed trees early on and some of the upper slopes are pretty slick coming down but with trekking poles and a little route finding, it’s a great hike!
- Tilly Jane @ Mount Hood National Forest, OR
- 11/26/2016 – Winter is well on its way to settling in at Mount Hood though we lucked out on weather just long enough to sneak in a trip to the Tilly Jane A-Frame hut. The road up to Cooper Spur is still completely clear of snow though it’s had a good dusting at times I’m told and the melt out does mean mud at the parking area. The trail starts out soggy as you wander through the trees but snow changes that less than 500 vertical feet in. After a few minutes on slick patches from the night, the treeline breaks into the old forest fire growth and the snow started to deepen quickly though snowshoes were never needed (we used them for traction on the descent.) By the time you reach the hut, everything looks like a proper winter wonderland and with more snow on the way today, it’s only going to get better!
- Tamanawas Falls @ Mount Hood National Forest, OR
- 12/16/2016 – Driving up from Hood River with warning signs for chains every few miles, I was worried the trailhead would not be plowed out to park but the road crews have done an amazing job and the area is totally accessible, for winter that is. Deep snow all around the TH and the trail though constant use has created a decent snowpack and while snowshoes are handy to not sink in, I hiked without them just fine. Lots of tree obstructions to navigate under or around including a full on branch tunnel near the end of the hike that you can either crawl or try to navigate around. The rock slide has snowed over and is now a steep hill with moderate runoff — fairly straight forward going up and a little tricky coming down, especially after use but between sliding and forward facing decent, it can be navigated. Expect the hike to take a good deal longer than on summer dirt and gear up for the cold but it’s a stunning result!
Long PNW Day Hikes
- Mount Defiance @ Columbia River Gorge, Oregon:
- Larch Mountain @ Columbia River Gorge, Oregon:
Alpine / Technical Mountain Climbs
- Mount St. Helens @ Southern Washington:
- [7,200′ via Worm Flows] 5/15/2017 – Mother’s Day weekend was wet, snowy and chilly save for a brief clearing Sunday afternoon but still an amazing adventure. Snow still starts just out of the parking lot though it’s melting down quick with several bare dirt patches around 1/3rd of the way to Chocolate Falls for the ski crowd. Plenty of powder from the first clearing up however and a new base from the past few days has been added as well. The first ridge has started to melt out so most climbers are ascending up the side of the gully beneath the rocks. From there it’s a pretty straight forward shot all the way up to the base of the Swift Glacier where the route cuts left to Monitor Ridge. Deep powder from 6,400′ and up (we’re talking several feet of loose, wet) and as always, watch for the large cornice up top (per other’s reports.)
- [Summit via Worm Flows] 4/16/2017 – Brrrrrrrr! Winds far exceeded their forecast and the promised blue skies rarely made it through the clouds leading to my coldest Helens climb ever. Still a great adventure / climb / view but shows the importance of preparing for what could happen despite what’s suppose to! Even with the cold, it never really got to freezing on most of the mountain and the snow was warm ranging from deep powder to layers of dry to unconsolidated. Crampons were helpful in the morning though not required as the day went on, snowshoes were a win but mostly it was about layers. Most climbers took the traverse to Monitor Ridge for their summit though some continued to push up the more direct Swift Direct variation. Plenty of signs of recent avy slides on solar slopes plus many growing cornices around the slopes.
- [Summit via Worms Flow] 3/31/2017 – Another amazing day on the mountain! While the snow level seems to be rising with the warming weather, there’s actually more snow up on the high mountain than a few weeks ago.Conditions remain great for climbing and ski / boarders with a few feet of snow right to the edge of the parking lot. Weather cycles are definitely impacting the route as the lower ridges were completely soft and prone to serious postholing even mid morning. Snowshoes or skins are a must have (carry them to the GPS station or higher as the route may soften up on your descent.) No major hazards and only a few bands of rock to contend with / navigate around on the first ridge. Crampons / traction systems are helpful in the morning hours and for the final summit push. Most people seemed to ascend through the Swift Glacier and the route is mellowing out to a less serious finish.
- [Summit via Worms Flow] 3/19/2017 – Took advantage of the rare blue bird day to get a climb in before the next storm system. While avalanche warnings have dropped way down the past few days, there are massive signs of slides pretty much all over the mountain with debris piles that would bury pretty much anything. Lots of cornices and crowns are still standing and seem ready to fall.As for the route, the drive up to the sno-park was easy with just a few spots of snow along the narrow road. Snow right out of the lot and all the way up starting out pretty solid in the early morning and getting quite soft by mid afternoon. Some of the rocky ridge is exposed below the Weather station but very little dirt climbing is really possible. Climbers attempted summits via different approaches on the Swift Glacier bowl though with a steep route and packed snow, many opted for a day lower on the mountain.
- [Ape Caves] 2/11/2017 – Similar conditions to before with deep snow from the parking area (currently with better road conditions up) to the cave entrance. Stairs down were very icy and bringing an axe or rope to help would be a good idea.
- [Ape Caves] 1/21/2017 – With huge snowfalls and some broken down equipment, plowing the South Side of Helens has been limited over the past few weeks. While things looked decent for our trip, the roads were narrow and would be hard to get two cars by in many spots with no access beyond Cougar Sno-park to Marble Mountain due to slides. Still, pulling into a very snowy Ape Caves parking lot (currently large enough for about 10 cars if everyone parks real close), it was time for adventure! In winter the main lot is inaccessible and there’s an extra 1 mile snow hike (each way) to get the usual starting point for the caves. Deep snowpack the entire way up with snowshoes being not so optional. The caves themselves are snow free and a much warmer 46-degrees though expect an icy / snowy descent down to reach them. No issues inside the cave but with resources even further away, be sure to hike in with plenty of supplies and a good flashlight (and backup.)
- [Monitor Ridge Summer Route to Summit] 10/22/2016 – Took advantage of a short break in the storms to make it up to the mountain on what turned out to be a perfect day. Climber’s Bivouac and the summer route remain open with no issues, other than some wet ground at the trailhead. The initial hike through the treeline is also very summer like aside from more mud on the ground and cooler temps around but easy going and obstacle free. Leaving the trees at the 4,800′ marker however the ground was almost immediately frozen solid (thawed by late afternoon) and a sign of what’s to come. Snow blankets the trail from 5,400′ and up with most people opting to follow the marker route. As the first climbers out recently, we re-kicked steps up through the crunch, hard snow in the morning before scrambling around the boulders. Lots of steep ridges, postholing around big boulders but they’re quickly getting covered over. Hard snowpack from the boulders to the summit with plenty of ice patches and ice right under the recent powder though the sun helped melt things making for a few nice glissade runs on the descent before a whole lot of sloppy down climbing.
- Mount Hood @ Oregon:
- [Timberline to Palmer] 4/9/2017 – Everything aligned for a perfect day on the mountain… Pulling into the lot around 10, things were just starting to get full and for good reason. Clear but not bright skies and 5″ of fresh powder made for an amazing look right out of the lot and while snowshoes were a must for the climber’s trail, it was smooth sailing up to Silcox. Following the groomed climber’s trail far to the right this year took away some of the directness of the usual Palmer climb while adding some distance in but still straight forward enough. The sun came out and softened up the snow further for our Palmer visit before plunge stepping back down at an easy pace. New snow in town and all the way on up.
- [Timberline to Silcox Hut] 4/2/2017 – Brrrrrrrrrr! I’m not one to get cold usually but today was something else with serious layering required even at the parking lot thanks to some nasty winds. My goal was just to get to the hut or near it for some sunrise shots so left the lot around 5:15 on mostly solid snow along this season’s very well built up climber track. Threw the crampons on early because why not though they were not needed on the lower slopes (they did make it easier to take a few shortcuts.) Most climbers I met had bailed due to the winds / cold which were roaring up top I’m told but otherwise the route looks well defined and ready for my fully return!
- [Timberline to Palmer Lift] 2/13/2017 – Another great day on the mountain! While chilly and windy, this rare blue-bird day showed the result of all the year’s snow as the hike from the lot up was stunning start to end. Fairly soft snow and certainly snowshoe worthy up to about the Silcox Hut. After that it was possible to find more packed and even icy sections firming up to downright slick in spots by Palmer. Reports from summit climbers were good conditions on the gate with the left gate being straight forward (by winter standards) to downclimb though I also spotted people taking the Old Chute back.
- [Timberline to Silcox Hut] 11/17/2016 – What a difference a few weeks make! Despite being later into winter, it felt like there was less snow on the mountain though certainly far more on the drive up with the lot covered in a couple inches of powder. That was representative of the slopes above with plenty of deep, soft, totally sink into it fluff to wade through. Those on skis made quick work of the terrain while my snowshoes meant plenty of postholing along the way. Bitter cold, snowing and windy so I turned at the hut though by the time I hit the parking lot it was sunny out and a great time to go explore more of the area!
- [Timberline to Palmer Ski Building] 10/19/2016 – My first winter climb of the season! There’s a ton of new snow around Mount Hood this week and the mountain is covered to a few hundred feet below the parking lot with highway 26 getting plenty icy in the early morning hours. Not a lot of visitors to the mountain slopes with the constant weather but snow cat tracks and a few bootpaths are easy enough to follow along for the hike. Conditions started out nice with a firm-ish footing but as I progressed up the mountain, it got pretty soft and dry. Those on skins had a lot less of an issue heading up but snowshoes would certainly be a good idea for anyone boots only. Expect a lot of nasty weather and presumably ice to follow, not that my axe was remotely needed today.
- Mount Adams @ Southern Washington:
- Mount Rainier / Camp Muir:
- [Paradise to Ingraham Flats] 5/20/2017 – The West Coast’s incredible winter is holding on at Mount Rainier with plenty of snow still pilled up around Paradise and even a ways below it! The hike up to Camp Muir remains a snow climb with a well defined boot path kicked in for now. There are a few more rocks exposed along the way but don’t expect to step on any dirt along the way even at Panorama Point which remains a steep snow ascent. After a few short pushes above it things mellow out for the uphill but moderate climb to Muir. High winds the evening of our climb made a summit less than appealing so we elected for a later start to check things out around Ingraham where conditions are spectacular! Snow over Cathedral Gap with only minor signs of rockfall and a quick route over to the flats. The main route up is still IG Direct though who knows how long that will last as warmer temps arrive…
- [Paradise to Muir] 5/7/2017 – Snow, snow and more snow! See my previous report and add another 1,500′ of moderate snow hiking for conditions on up. Camp Muir remains partially buried with the shelter accessible via the side door’s upper portion. Two bathrooms on the public side and the other two by the guide / ranger huts are operating. Most tents were setup in the gully behind camp to avoid the wind. Bunkhouse is looking nice though dark, almost smells normal, ok, not really.
- [Paradise to Muir Snowfield] 4/29/2017 – Winter continues at Mount Rainier! Snow from the parking lot up with not one step on rocks along the way up to 8,500′ (or above to Muir, that was my turn point with inclement weather rolling in.) This of course means it’s essential to be ready for snow conditions including some moderate inclines up to Panorama Point (it’s dirt switchbacks in summer) and the few hills above it. Weather started out great with a decent forecast but changed fast into full whiteout conditions with visibility ranging from poor to nothing, navigation skills and route finding are also essential out there! Other than that, great snow (crampons were handy in points, snowshoes on the descent but good boots could have got by) and for the ski crowd, enjoy the zippy ride down!
Have your own trail update or question? Leave a comment below or on my trail guide posts.