OverviewUpdate: Jan 29, 2012: A severe ice storm on Jan 20th, 2012 has devestated the entire Wind Mt. Trail and it is impassible for all but the most experienced off-trial hikers. It is also dangerous due to hundreds of uprooted large trees across the trail and much ice and snow.
Update to the update, above: April 7th, 2012: The ice and snow are gone entirely and many hikers have trimmed branches and tossed most of them off the side of the trail. Also those many hiking boots have successfully tramped new detours around most of the large trees across the trail and around the trail tread damage due to uprooted tress. Some heavier saw work has been done on the lower quarter mile or so, so the trail is once again hikable. It is still a bit of a challenge in places so expect a little effort in getting to the top.
One more update: Much more work has been done clearing the trail and only about 35 trees are still across the trail and nearly all branches have been removed. No trail tread repairs have been made as of 5/4/2012 but there are easy routes around or through the 20 divots in the trail caused by uprooted trees. An alternative route up the north side of the mountain along an old, probably Native american route is available and that trail is cleared and easier to hike. It is, however, a much steeper route. See map.
Wind Mountain is the near perfect cone-shaped sentinel a couple miles west of the more popular Dog Mountain on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge. The river narrows dramatically at this point and the prevailing westerlies are squeezed and accelerated as they blow upriver, resulting in the near constant wind that gives the mountain its name.
The trail is not on most maps and is relatively short, by gorge standards, but is nevertheless a rewarding and moderately challenging hike. The views of Dog Mountain to the east are as good as it gets and the summit offers unparalleled views downstream. Looking across the river, great views of Wind Mountain's twin, Shellrock Mountain, and also Mt. Defiance, are available. There is a second trail starting in the gravel parking are/quarry that allegedly was the original native american route to the summit that may be many thousand of years old. It peters out near the top and gets steep but is passable with some bushwhacking effort.
About .4 miles up the trail there is a viewpoint that offers fine views to the east. This spur trail is steep and slippery but worth the trouble, in my opinion. Be careful on the ridge: The rock is mossy in places and very slippery when wet.
At the summit, numerous Indian pits are preserved as well as several terraces made by native Americans for ritual purposes. There is a sign near the top of the trail with information about this.
Getting ThereFrom Hwy 14, about MP 51, turn north on Wind Mt. Rd. turning right after 1.4 miles on Girl Scout Rd. Another Quarter mile brings you to a small parking area on the right side of the now gravel road. The unmarked trailhead is about 200 yards down this road, on the right, opposite a turnout big enough to park one vehicle. (You could park here but you can't turn around here easily so you may have to continue down the steep and rough road circling the mountain back to Hwy 14.
The trail is unmarked and unmaintained but used frequently enough that it is in very good shape. (See updates, above, though!) Elevation gain is only about 1,100 feet over the 1.05 miles to the summit from the actual trailhead, but by adding in the distance and elevations from the parking lot as well as to the viewpoint you'll end up with about 1,500' vertical and about 2.5 miles round trip.
Alternative trail: There is another trail starting at the gravel pit parking area that is much shorter albeit much steeper than the regular trail. See map.
Red TapeAs of Oct. 2004, no permits or passes were needed.
When To ClimbAny time of the year, but the spring/summer/fall seasons are best. The peak is low enough to avoid long-lasting snow during the winter
CampingNo campsites on the mountain but plenty in nearby areas. This one is only an hour out of Portland so it's an easy day trip anyway.
Mountain ConditionsHere's the link to the NOAA site for weather: Gorge Weather
- USFS website
Gifford Pinchot National Forest