Table Mountain may be one of the most difficult mountains to climb on the Washington side, but it is worth all of the work it takes to get to the top because of the outstanding 360 views from the summit.
Table Mountain can be seen from many different places along the Columbia River Gorge because it is one of the tallest points. It may be one of the most difficult mountains to climb on the Washington side, but it is worth all of the work it takes to get to the top because of the outstanding 360 view from the summit. From the summit, the view includes everything from the Eagle Creek Gorge all the way out to Mount Hood, which just one of the cascade peaks that can be seen on a clear day. The ridgeline at the top lines allows you to traverse from the southern-most to northern-most points. From the northern end, it is possible to see Mount Rainier, Mount Saint Helens, and Mount Adams on a clear day. In the spring, the mountain is covered with wildflowers, which are at their best in May and June.
What Makes It Great
The views from the top of this mountain are breathtaking. Not only do you get sweeping views of the gorge, but you can also see many of the surrounding cascades on a clear day.
The hike described here starts from the Aldrich Butte Trailhead. There is a fork at the trailhead where you should go left and stay straight past the powerlines. After almost a mile, you will get to a pretty complicated trail junction near Carpenter Lake. Continue past the first trail you encounter, which is for the Dick Thomas Trail, and then pass Carpenter Lake, which is really only a boggy meadow. Soon after that, the road makes a hairpin turn to the left and a trail continues straight. Keep left here and you will quickly get to another, similar intersection where you should take the trail to the right that climbs north. One mile from Carpenter Lake, the trail intersects with the PCT, which you should take to the right and it will climb to the west side. If you go too far past this intersection, you will run into Cedar Creek.
On the PCT, you will reach Heartbreak Ridge Trail a half-mile later. Turn right here and head up the hill. This trail is incredibly steep; in fact, it climbs about 700 feet in half a mile. Once at the top of the steep slope, there is a great view of the cliff tops in the slide area of Table Mountain. The trail drops down a little bit into the forest before it switchbacks up. You will soon get to an unforgiving rock scramble and you should head straight up. The trail continues to left at the top of the rock field. After several switchbacks, there is a junction with a trail that you should take to the right and continue up another steep stretch. You will soon come to another junction at the crest of the ridge, which is signed as the Gorge Overlook. Take a right here and stroll through the open ridgeline that feels like a beautiful open meadow. The south edge, also called the Gorge Overlook, has views of the Columbia River Gorge and Mount Hood. From there, take a right, which will lead you to amazing views of Mount Saint Helens, Mount Adams, Mount Rainier, and an even better view of the gorge. There is a loop option from here, but the easiest way to go is back down the way you came.
Who is Going to Love It
This hike is very steep and recommended experienced hikers. The view from the top is stellar and it is a great hike to work towards as a goal or to use as training for bigger mountains.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Portland take I-84 east to Cascade Locks over the Bridge of the Gods, which has a $1 toll each way. Take a left on Highway 14 and after about three miles, go right on Hot Springs Road under the railroad and take an immediate right on Cascade Drive. After about 1.8 miles, the road looks like it ends at a turn around, but you should continue on Shelly Lane for another .1 miles to cross a bridge over Carpenter Creek. Take a right at a powerline access road. Go up that road for only about 150 yards to the first fork and park anywhere. The trail starts from the parking area on the left fork of the road.