Bald Mountain is located in the Mt. Hood National Forest and reached via a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. The drive to the trailhead alone offered amazing views, but the hike is definitely worth the effort. The trail is moderate due to an initial elevation gain of 1,000 ft. in the first 1.5 miles, but it isn’t too steep and levels out after that point. On the day we went it was pretty lightly trafficked, though it was early November and very cold. Since we were in the mountains (starting at 3,500 ft.), as we climbed the temperature dropped and trees became frost-covered. After the initial climb, you’re treated to a spectacular view of Mt. Hood rising out of the valley. The trail continues an additional 1.5 miles through pine forests before opening up to sweeping views of the valley and Mt. Hood. Go on a clear day to maximize the views and you won’t be disappointed.
Dog mountain is a 4-6 mile hike in the Columbia River Gorge on the Washington side of the river. It is a moderate to difficult trail and hikers have the option of a 4 mile lollipop loop or adding in an additional 2 miles out and back to the peak. The trail climbs steadily for the first half and there is an option of a difficult or more difficult route. The overall elevation gain is just shy of 3,000 feet for the full 6 miles and about 2,000 for the 4 mile loop. We did the 4 mile loop, taking the difficult route up and the more difficult route down. The more difficult route has fewer switchbacks and is quite a bit steeper. The day we went was snowy making the trail a bit slippery and pushing it into a more difficult trail for us; on a clear day we likely would have rated it moderate due to the climbing. The trail is rated moderately-trafficked, however since it was winter we didn’t see an overwhelming number of people. The spring and summer are likely a bit busier. On the way up, we had some great views of the gorge; it was shrouded in a moody winter mist. Overall it was a fun hike, and we’d love to go back to the top on a clear day.
Forest Park is right in the heart of Portland and contains a vast network of trails. It wasn’t our favorite place to go initially because many of the trails are overly crowded. We found that the further north you go, the less crowded it becomes, so we’ve been exploring more trails further in the park. It’s a great place to get out for a trail run or easy hike without having to drive too far.
Kings Mountain is located in the Tillamook Forest, 40 miles west of Portland. I ran my ultra in this forest but didn’t get to the summits, so we knew we wanted to get back and hike. The trail is not easy – it is all uphill gaining 2,500 feet in 2.25 miles until you reach Kings Summit. It’s moderately trafficked, and even on a rainy/snowy day we passed plenty of other hikers. Unfortunately there was no visibility at the top the day we hiked, but on a clear day you can supposedly see all the way to the ocean. We’re planning on going back in nicer weather to do the double Elk-Kings summit loop.