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Columbia Hills State Park - Stacker Butte

Southwest Washington > Columbia River Gorge - WA
45.6949, -121.0925 Map & Directions
Length
5.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
1150 feet
Highest Point
3200 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Moderate
Balsamroot and Mount Hood are iconic images from Stacker Butte. Photo by Anna Roth. Full-size image
  • Wildflowers/Meadows
  • Dogs not allowed
  • Summits
  • Good for kids
  • Rivers

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None

If your car can take the chassis-rattling drive to the Stacker Butte trailhead, you'll be rewarded with one of the most gratifying views-per-mile hikes in Washington. The Columbia Hills Natural Area Preserve boasts spreading views of the east side of the Columbia River Gorge, both in Washington and Oregon, and provides one of the only protected areas for houndstongue hawkweed and Idaho fescue grasslands. These protected plants need mininmal disturbance, so it's especially important to stay on trail and four-legged hiking companions have to stay home from this hike. Continue reading

Rating
3.00 out of 5

Hiking Columbia Hills State Park - Stacker Butte

If your car can take the chassis-rattling drive to the Stacker Butte trailhead, you'll be rewarded with one of the most gratifying views-per-mile hikes in Washington. The Columbia Hills Natural Area Preserve boasts spreading views of the east side of the Columbia River Gorge, both in Washington and Oregon, and provides one of the only protected areas for houndstongue hawkweed and Idaho fescue grasslands. 

As an area providing protection for these plants and several other rare species, it's particularly important to stay on trail and four-legged hiking companions have to stay home from this hike.

The views start almost immediately upon stepping out of your car. Below the trailhead, the rolling hills of Oregon and parts of the Columbia Hills State Park and Columbia Hills Natural Area Preserve spread out below you, and the panorama is only going to improve as you hike. The "trail" is straightforward; just a service road winding to the summit, but you'll be happy it is, because the wide, flat track allows you to gawp in all directions as you climb. 

Along the way, look for lupine and paintbrush, as well as the low-growing phlox, deep purple larkspur, and of course the ubiquitious balsamroot. Watch these in particularly, as their yellow faces follow the sun throughout the day. 

1.1 miles from the trailhead, a small, overgrown round splits off to the right. This is a side trip to Oak Spring, and offers a short detour if you wish. Otherwise, continue on the main track. You're heading toward the unusual array of towers at the top, and you'll reach the first of them at 1.75 miles from the trailhead. 

But you're not there yet! The true summit is three-quarters of a mile away, where you can peer into both the Goldendale plains to the east and the majestic Gorge to the south. On the horizons are Mount Hood to the south and Mount Adams to the north. There's also Swale Canyon, bisecting the farmland at the foot of Adams. If you're inclined to other adventures, the canyon offers a nice hike or biking outing. 

Hike Description Written by
Anna Roth, WTA Staff

Columbia Hills State Park - Stacker Butte

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 45.6949, -121.0925 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

See weather forecast

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None

WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

Drive east on Highway 14 in Washingotn to the junction with Highway 197 (this is 8 miles from the town of Lyle).

Pass the juntion with 197 and proceed for just 0.9 miles more. Turn left onto a wide gravel road-"Dalles Mountain Road". Drive a bumpy 3.4 miles, and turn left onto a rutted and steep dirt road, not signed for anything.

It's a further 1.4 miles on this narrow, rutted, one-lane-with-pullouts road to a green gate and informative kiosk. This is the parking area, where only about 3 or 4 cars can fit without blocking the gate. Park courteously, and begin your hike on the other side of the gate.

More Hike Details

Trailhead

Southwest Washington > Columbia River Gorge - WA

Washington State Department of Natural Resources

Guidebooks & Maps

Green Trails 432S: Columbia River Gorge–East

Buy the Green Trails Columbia Gorge East No. 432S map

You can improve or add to this guidebook entry

Columbia Hills State Park - Stacker Butte

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