Coyote Wall Hike in the Columbia River Gorge, Washington

On Sunday we decided to take advantage of the sunny spring weather and ventured out for our first hike in Washington State. Our new friends Kara and Matt suggested we all hike Coyote Wall in the Columbia River Gorge. Located approximately 4.5 miles East of Hood River on the Washington side, Coyote Wall rises high above the river and offers spectacular views of the Gorge from its rim. The trail head is relatively easy to find, located on Courtney Road off SR 14.

We began our journey around 7:30 AM and after an easy drive up the gorge, arrived at the trail head just before 9:00AM. The weather in Portland was mostly overcast, but by the time we reached Hood River, the clouds had broken up and the sun had warmed the air temperature to about 50° F. There weren’t many people at the trailhead yet, but Matt advised us that this would be a different scene by the end of the day.

The trail starts at about 100 feet in elevation and climbs to over 2000 feet in elevation by the time one reaches the highest point on Coyote Wall. Our chosen route would take us approximately 6.5 miles roundtrip, but there are many opportunities to shorten or lengthen ones distance by following different side trails.

The hike begins by walking along old Highway 8, now covered in boulders and cracked pavement. After our abundant rainfall, we saw many small waterfalls. As we walked along the road, we noticed old drill holes in the blasted rock face. Our pavement-laden route did not last long, as the trail soon turned Northwest and headed up the side of the Wall. This trail is heavily used by mountain bikers and some parts of the trail have ruts only a tire width wide.

Mini Waterfall Along Trail on Old Highway 8     Drill Holes in Blasted Rock Along Trail on Old Highway 8

Our ascent was eased slightly by taking a few spur-switchbacks in the trail. This design makes the hike as challenging as one desires. We preferred to take every other switchback and enjoy the views along the way.

Sunny Spring Day at the Columbia River Gorge     Coyote Wall

As we climbed, it didn’t take long before we were afforded our first sunny views of the gorge. The trail continues almost straight up the sloping hill along the rim of Coyote Wall. We stopped numerous times to peer over the rim into the canyon below.

Matt, Kara, and Jason Hiking Along the Rim of Coyote Wall     Katie and Bella on the Rim of Coyote Wall with Matt and Kara in the Background

Near the top of the Wall, we looked back and had a spectacular view of the Oregon side of the gorge and Hood River. If the weather had been better farther West, we could have seen Mt. Hood in the distance. After reaching the top and crossing the relatively sparse (and very windy) landscape encompassing the first half of our journey, the trees became more dense and the forest soon surrounded us. Kara and Matt had heard that there were ticks in this forest, but had never seen them.

View North of Oregon Side of Columbia River Gorge with Mount Hood Hiding in the Clouds     Forested Trail

As we sat enjoying our lunch on some moss-covered boulders at the base of Coyote Wall, I suddenly noticed a small black bug on my pants. Having never encountered a tick, I brushed this creature away. However, when a second one crawled onto my leg, I realized, and Matt confirmed, that it was a tick. Thankfully, we had recently dosed Bella with her flea and tick medication. By the end of the day, we had picked five or six ticks off of her and a few off of ourselves.

Jason Perched on a Rock Below Coyote Wall     Patch of Wildflowers

On our way down, we noticed many beautiful, brightly colored wild flowers. For me, they signaled spring and more great hikes to come. Days like this remind us how much we love the dry weather and hiking in the Northwest.

Yellow Glacier Lily (Erythronium grandiflorum) and Purple Wildflowers     Grass Widow (Olsynium douglasii) Wildflower

As we finished our hike, we encountered many other hikers out enjoying the spring weather. This hike is not too challenging and difficulty can be eased by taking a less direct route to the top and turning back on the trail earlier. The road near the trailhead was now packed with people ready to enjoy the weather and sights. We decided that enjoying a few libations in Hood River would be the perfect end to our day.

Cattle Chute Near Trail Head


linda, Tue, 04/19/2011 - 15:31

We own property at the top of this hike and have been considering putting in a small private campground. How do you feel that might go over? Just curious what hikers/bikers might think of this idea. Thanks! Happy Hiking! Linda

jloomis, Tue, 04/19/2011 - 21:36

Hi Linda,

First off, thank you for taking the time to visit Loomis Adventures and comment.

Personally, I like the idea of a small campground in the area especially since it would open up more property for some people to enjoy. But like all ideas, I am sure you will find some people opposed. As long as your private campground is safe, clean, and environmentally conscious, I suspect you will find most hikers/bikers will have a favorable attitude.

Emmy, Thu, 05/24/2012 - 21:17

I think that would be a generous and wonderful thing to do! That you are willing to share your land with the public is a testament to the type of people you are! I used to mountain bike but now that I am older I just hike. It would be a great place to hike to and camp. My family owns property on the east coast and we have designated some of it as a conservation easement so that it cannot be developed, to protect the watershed that runs through it. We do however, maintain trails and leave it open for public access. It's good to have people on the property to enjoy it and help steward it. Thanks so much for your great idea!

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