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Coyote Wall

This 8.25 mile loop on the sunny Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge gradually climbs through shaded stands of oak and ponderosa pine, dotted with small, wildflower-strewn meadows, then deposits hikers 1900’ above the river at the top of a basalt ridge with expansive views and carpets of balsamroot and lupine.

At the time of this writing, the user created trail that passed through private lands at the base of the cliff has been closed by the Forest Service. Please respect the closure.

Most of the trails on top of the cliff and to the east are on Forest Service lands and are sanctioned trails. Popular, official trails like Little Moab, Maui Falls, and the Labyrinth are clearly marked along with several other routes that have yet to receive official names from the Forest Service.

The Coyote Wall is a 200' sheer outcrop of crumbling columnar basalt, a result of the ancient Missoula Floods that at one time scoured and formed the Columbia River Gorge into the shape it is today. The loop trail first heads west, skirting the base of the wall, offering views of the colorful, lichen-stained rock face and talus slopes, before heading into denser forest. At the westernmost point of the loop, the views open up to the Columbia River Gorge and Mt. Hood. Turning east, head through more forest, then emerge onto the top edge of the Coyote Wall, into huge meadows, dotted with rocky volcanic outcrops and an abundance of wildflowers.

The trailhead begins just past a gated road, at the corner of Hwy 14 and Courtney Rd. A couple hundred yards up the road, at an abandoned cattle chute, hang a left (your only left turn of the loop) and start the trail clockwise. The trail gradually heads upwards, through stands of oak and ponderosa pine, with small meadows displaying buttercup, candyflower, and a variety of other small colors. As the tree cover begins to thicken, pass a faint trail that branches off to the right; this leads up a steep path to a notch in the wall (this could make for a shorter loop). Arriving at a main T-junction, take the right trail, and continue on a gradually fading trail until you come to a gate on an old forest lane. Just past the gate is Courtney Rd; turn right and start up the road. You’ll pass a secluded house on the left, round a couple more bends, then arrive at the westernmost bend in the road, and the scene opens for a spectacular look down on the Columbia River, Hood River on the Oregon side, and distant Mt. Hood.

Continuing up Courtney Rd, pass a beautiful house on the left with grand views, then bear right on Atwood Rd, which ends shortly and turns back into trail. Now on top of the Coyote Wall, heading east through pine forest, keep your eyes open for fairy slipper and blue buttons. There are several “No Trespassing” signs in the area, so stick to the trail. When you arrive at a junction with left and right options, continue straight ahead (the trail to the right descends to the lower section of the loop passed earlier). Soon the trail turns to the right, mounts a small, grassy rise, and deposits hikers at the edge of Coyote Wall, with more spectacular views and wide-open meadows filled with balsamroot, lupine and cluster lily. Drop your pack to stop and savor the scene.

Once you’ve had your fill and are ready to pick up again, the trail – now trails, as this area is known as “the labyrinth” – continues east. Choose to hike along the edge of the wall, or straight down through meadow - the trails will merge again farther down. Pass through an opening in a wood and barbed wire gate, and again choose your path, descending through a big, meadowed slope. Several other trails snake back and forth across this hillside. Ignore those and continue straight down. At another fenced opening at a T-junction, bear right to keep descending along the edge of the wall, or turn left and descend through a tree-shaded creek swale (this will deposit you a little farther east at the end). The trail continues to descend back toward the road, along the edge of Coyote Wall, with opportunities to view the length of the wall as you wander down through rock-strewn meadows. When the trail ends at a now-closed section of old highway, turn right and head back to your starting point.

Notes: This trail is popular with mountain bikers, and though hikers technically have the right-of-way, be cautious and courteous. This area is home to ticks and poison oak; take the appropriate precautions. Rattlesnakes have been seen in summer months—be aware.
Driving Directions:

From Vancouver: Hwy 14 east, through Bingen, 3.5 miles to Courtney Rd.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 14 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Coyote Wall — Apr 01, 2014 — Salal
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Water on trail
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One thing you should know, is that the best views of the Coyote Wall are from the parking area. The...
One thing you should know, is that the best views of the Coyote Wall are from the parking area. The trail goes along the TOP of the wall, so you can't see the wall itself. You could walk along the edge but I would not recommend that. Trampling and erosion for one, and for another, the wind is quite capable of blowing you over the edge. It was making me stagger.

Views, wildflowers, birding, all spectacular. The trail switchbacks back and forth along an old jeep track for a ways, and then it switches to going straight up. Very steeply, very unpleasantly. I did not continue far once I got to that point. It's an out and back, not a loop, so I didn't see the point. Lots of unmarked trail junctions so you'll need the directions from the Gorge trail guide book.

Lots of mountain bikers, but they were all going pretty slowly so never an issue. When I saw bikes coming, and you can see anyone coming from a long ways off, I dragged my dogs well off the trail, and most everyone thanked me for that, if they weren't puffing too hard to speak. No poison oak, no ticks to speak of. Lots of meadowlarks, bluebirds, turkey vultures, and at least one horned lark.

After I gave up going up, I took some of the side trails and had a good time that way. There's plenty of unmarked trails to explore, and lots of streams and waterfalls, little groves of oaks, and rocks and views. There is water on the trail in spots, but no biggie. The trail is mostly in pretty good shape. It starts along the closed portion of Old Highway 8 and you could walk quite a ways along that, with great views of the south end of Coyote Wall which is something like 1000ft tall.
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Coyote Wall, Coyote Wall - The Labyrinth Loop Hike — May 11, 2013 — MikeOnAHike
Day hike
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This was a really nice hike, with scenery that was much different than the typical forests or meadow...
This was a really nice hike, with scenery that was much different than the typical forests or meadows that I'm used to. The mix of golden grasses, green grasses, gently rolling hills, and basalt outcroppings was awesome. Great views of Mt. Hood as well.

I hiked up the top edge of the cliff, and then dropped down on what I think was the Crybaby trail. Crybaby is extremely steep and narrow. The trail is so hard that it might as well be paved. It has a bunch of sand and pebbles on it, so footing is really difficult. I wandered around below the cliff for 3 hours unsuccessfully trying to get to Atwood Road. On the way back, I found the trail that I probably should've taken, but I didn't have time for any more mistakes. Instead, I just went back up Crybaby.

There was a ton of Poison Oak below the cliff. I'm really surprised that I didn't have any kind of reaction. The trail is also really hot and there is very little shade. Bring more water than you think you need.

The trail description for "Coyote Wall - The Labyrinth Loop Hike" is much better than "Coyote Wall". With the maze of trails in this area and the decommissioned trails, the "Coyote Wall" description might even be considered dangerous. I enjoyed the hike, but if I had read "Coyote Wall - The Labyrinth Loop" before I went I probably would have had a much better experience.

I recommend this hike, but bring a map or leave yourself plenty of time to explore.

Sorry for the lack of photos - I'm really busy this week and didn't want to hold off on the trip report just for the photos. Other trip reports have them. If you're really desperate to see mine, let me know and I'll post them in the next week or so.
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Coyote Wall — May 04, 2013 — Mountain Lover
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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Very warm and sunny. Did a loop from the eastern trailhead, passing the waterfall along the old roa...
Very warm and sunny. Did a loop from the eastern trailhead, passing the waterfall along the old road, then taking the main trail up and working our way over the Coyote Wall edge (lower section). Followed the rocky trail that skirts along the wall's edge, gaining elevation until reaching a fence/road. Having gained most of the feet that we were going to, we stayed along the "road"-turned-trail again. This meandered in through oak trees (beware the poison oak!). Eventually crossing a small creek and not far after, taking a very narrow and sometimes steep trail that dropped us into the top of the labirynth and exited via that trail.

Thank you to the crews that did trail maintenance last year. The very steep part in the labirynth was rerouted.

Flowers: chocolate lilies, popcorn flower, fiddleneck, miner's lettuce, manroot (wild cucumber), strawberries, buttercups, sorrel, woodland star, yarrow, desert parsley, lewesia, tretilia, california poppy, buckwheat, lupine, balsamroot, vetch, bachelor buttons, penstemon.
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Coyote Wall, Coyote Wall - The Labyrinth Loop Hike — Mar 08, 2013 — Bob and Barb
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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We began our hike at the TH on Old HWY #8. At 0.5 miles we turned right and began a gentle climb kee...
We began our hike at the TH on Old HWY #8. At 0.5 miles we turned right and began a gentle climb keeping right to a waterfall at 0.8 mile. Here there is evidence of trail work on a much needed improvement of a steep section of the trail. Thank you, WTA, in advance! :)! At 1.8 miles we took the left trail which climbs steeply to the Atwood Road. A mountain biker told us this was the Hidden Canyon Trail. When we reached the Burns Farm sign, we turned left and after lunch at this spot, we headed down and took a west trail to Coyote Wall. One section of this part of the trail was being widened with a small mechanized vehicle with multiple attachments--grader and backhoe were being used today. We then descended to the road and returned to the TH. Spring was "on the trail" today with warm temperatures and many wildflowers blooming! Grass Widows were the star of the show! We also saw prairie stars, buttercup, saxifrage, gold stars, yellow desert parsley, and purple desert parsley. We saw 2 canyon wrens. There were hikers, runners, and in the afternoon many mountain bikers.
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Coyote Wall, Coyote Wall - The Labyrinth Loop Hike — Feb 15, 2013 — MAC
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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Great hike. There are a lot of the Grass Widows. I was here 2 years ago and could hike the trails. T...
Great hike. There are a lot of the Grass Widows. I was here 2 years ago and could hike the trails. They were flat then, now they are a 1' wide and a 1' deep with rocks in them up to 2" in dia. It was a week day and there were 25 to 30 bikes. They were not in the erosion ditches they had created. The bikes were either making new trails beside the exiting or just making new ones. There was survey tape blocking some of the ditches and they had been torn down. Some of the branches blocking the newly filled trails were moved. The bikes are destroying the entire area. They do not belong on trails, they belong on fire roads.
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EBoschetto_Coyote_2995.jpg
View of Coyote Wall from "the labyrinth." © Eli Boschetto
WTA worked here!
2012
Location
South Cascades -- Columbia Gorge
Statistics
Roundtrip 8.25 miles
Elevation Gain 1920 ft
Highest Point 2074 ft
Features
Rivers
Wildflowers/Meadows
Mountain views
User info
Dogs allowed on leash
May encounter mountains bikes
Guidebooks & Maps
100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington, 3rd Edition by William L. Sullivan; Navillus Press
Green Trails, Columbia River Gorge East. 432S

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Red MarkerCoyote Wall
45.6999615 -121.4034466
  • Trail Work 2012
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