Wildflower hikes near Portland are wildly popular this time of year, and with good reason: The blooms represent not just the end of a long, cold winter (such as it was), but the start of spring and a new hiking season.
There are no shortage of nearby wildflower hikes, and hikers of all fitness levels can enjoy the seasonal perks; Dog Mountain, for instance, is universally regarded as one of the more difficult hikes in the Gorge, while Trillium Lake offers mostly flat trails. Yet both are known for their rich wildflower populations.
While you have plenty of hikes to choose from, here are five of the best wildflower hikes around Portland. Don't forget the camera.
1. Dog Mountain
Dog Mountain is one of the most popular Columbia River Gorge hikes for a variety of reasons. The steep ascent makes a great warm-up for seasoned hikers, the views from its summit are unparalleled, and the trail is rife with wide swaths of wildflowers every May and June. Bursting yellow blooms of balsamroot and deep purple lupine line the trail in sections and fill meadows en route to the summit, where breathtaking views of Mount St. Helens, Mount Hood, and Mount Defiance add to the beauty.
2. Lacamas Park
Lacamas Park is a fine enough hike at any time of year. The quiet park, just a few minutes from downtown Camas, takes hikers through forestland and to Round Lake, offering delightful views and an easy workout along the way.
But the real draw of Lacamas Park comes alive in mid-April, when the camas lilies begin to bloom. Open rocky trails and meadows are overrun each spring with the beautiful blue blossom, but make sure to time it right: The lilies are only in bloom for a few weeks each spring. But even if you miss the camas lilies, the trail is dotted with other types of wildflowers throughout the season.
3. Trillium Lake
You don’t have to look very hard for the beautiful lake’s connection to wildflowers: Trillium Lake is, in fact, named for the three-petaled white flower that grows in abundance in the surrounding forests. It doesn’t take much effort to view the flowers, either: The short trail around Trillium Lake is mostly flat.
4. Catherine Creek
Catherine Creek might require a longer drive than other hikes around Portland, but it’s worth the trip: Roughly 100 species of wildflowers bloom at the park every spring and summer. Grass widow grows as early as February, for instance, while the western ladies tresses bloom well into July. Hikers will find wildflowers all along the trail, but the blooms get especially impressive after passing an old homestead and reaching the meadow.
5. Tom McCall Preserve
Parts of the Tom McCall Preserve trail might be closed due to the lingering impacts of a 2014 wildfire, but it remains one of the best wildflower destinations in the Columbia River Gorge, thanks to more than 200 species in bloom through mid-summer. Lupine, lilies, and more are found in abundance in wide open meadows and along the trail leading up to McCall Point, and four of the species found at the preserve are unique to the Columbia River Gorge.