Just about 30 minutes from most parts of Portland lies a gem of a hike to Angel's Rest. What makes this hike so wonderful is not any sense of remoteness or wilderness (you can see and/or hear I-84 most of the hike). What makes it so wonderful is that it is easy to get to; it's hikeable year round; the trail goes across landslides, over a creek, past a waterfall, through burned areas that now sport great autumn color, over some exposed rocks, and out to an amazing viewpoint all in under 2.5 miles one way; and thanks to the burn and a handful of other ecological factors, the trail boasts a pretty high variety of plants that put on shows at different times of the year. The trail is not too steep, but it's enough to make for a nice little workout. Haul up some coffee or a lunch or some fine scotch, hunker down at the often windy top, and enjoy a world-class view of the western Gorge. Or just drive out, power up and back, and head back home. You will get some fresh air and your heart rate up a bit, and still only be gone for about 3 hours! You really can't beat it.
Interstate 84 eastbound (from Portland): Take exit #28 for Bridal Veil. Ignore the righthand turn to the post office. Continue uphill about 0.3 mile to the intersection with the Historic Highway. Hang a hard right right, heading west on the highway (signed for "Crown Point"), and then almost immediately take another right into the nice big parking area signed for Angel's Rest.
Interstate 84 westbound (from Hood River): Take exit #35, keep going straight off the freeway, and take the Historic Highway just under 7.5 miles to the trailhead parking described above.
Columbia River Highway approach: The trailhead is accessed from the historic highways. From Wahkeena Falls, head west apprximately 2.5 miles. Parking is on the right hand side of the highway. From Bridal Veil State Park, head about 0.5 mile east, with parking on the left.
Note: There is an overflow parking area about 50 yards west of the main parking area mentioned above. Access this alternate from the Historic Highway.
This is one of those groovy Gorge parking areas that does not require any kind of permit or pass to park. It's free! Your tax dollars alone are good enough at this one. Amazing.
The west end of the Gorge doesn't have a lot in the way of camping options. The nearest place I know of to camp is at Ainsworth State Park, about 8 miles east of the trailhead (off I-84 exit 35). If anybody has better info or knows that this is incorrect, let me know, and I'll change it.