I love Portland for it’s proximity to the great outdoors; however, most of the hikes within an hour drive are mainly in the Gorge under the canopy of the forests. On a summer’s day this is a nice respite from the heat and sun, but in the winter when the inhabitants of the PNW are craving a little bit of sunlight, the hikes become more limited.
One of my favorites is Coyote Wall located just across Hood River in Washington. This hike is fully exposed allowing you all the vitamin D you could hope for… except when the Hood River area is completely shrouded in fog and clouds, as it was the day we decided we needed some sun. Either way, we were determined to make the most of it. From the trailhead (which is new construction complete with an outhouse), you head east along Old Highway 8. Big boulders along the road ensure you’re heading in the right direction. From here, the trail is the first right you get a chance to take. The trail is a popular mountain bike playground – so there are many trodden paths to take, which can often be confusing to the first time hiker. My general rule of thumb is take the first path to the right, then to the left, then to the right from thereon. You essentially want to start heading east back towards the way you came, but this time on the giant face of the wall.
The landscape is unlike many other hikes in the area – part old farm fields, part wildflowers, part trail – the expansiveness will surely impress you. The trial continues on a slow path upwards with hairpin turns. After about a mile and a bit, the trail winds close to the cliff and you get a sense of just how high you’ve come. I put my dog on a leash as he is a curious creature who likes to test his limits. A couple of hike websites have notices about the long loop trail being close due to personal property; however I’m sure there are alternative paths you can take if you truly desire to make a loop out of it. Every time I’ve climbed Coyote Ridge, I go up to a satisfactory point and then make my way back down the way I came. All in all, we did just over 5 miles with an out and back. And while the sun didn’t necessarily shine, it was great to get outside.
Directions to Coyote Trailhead from Portland
Head along 84 East to Exit 64
Turn Left off the exit towards Hood River Bridge ($1 toll each way)
Turn Right off the Bridge onto Lewis & Clark Hwy
Continue approx 5 miles until Courtney Road
Turn Left onto Courtney Road, a parking lot will be on the right
Helpful Trail Websites / Information:
Portland Hiker’s Field Guide: Long Loop Trail
Portland Hiker’s Field Guide: Short Loop Trail
Washington Trails Association: Coyote Wall: The Labyrinth Loop Hike
Cascade Single Track: Syncline Trails