Dog Mountain permits will now be required at this popular hiking and wildflower viewing destination in Washington.
Due to trailhead congestion and safety concerns, the United States Forest Service has implemented a new fee and permit system from March 31, 2018 to July 1, 2018 for the Dog Mountain Trail in the Columbia River Gorge.
Popular with hikers year-round, the Dog Mountain trail gains 2,842 feet of elevation gain in 3 challenging miles. During late spring, the 6.8 mile, heavily trafficked loop attracts hikers in the Pacific Northwest when Puget Balsamroot, Broadleaf Lupine, and Blue-Eyed Mary bloom across the high meadows overlooking the Columbia Gorge.
In the past few years, traffic has accumulated at the trailhead parking lot and along Washington State Route 14 during weekends, causing safety concerns from the Forest Service and Washington State Patrol. With the recent Eagle Creek fire, and many trailheads still inaccessible on the Oregon side of the Gorge, there will be more hikers than ever on Washington trails this year.
Permit Options at Dog Mountain
There will be two permit options for hikers wishing to access Dog Mountain on Saturdays and Sundays between March 31, 208 and July 1, 2018:
Option #1: $1.50 Day Use Dog Mountain Permits
Hikers can purchase a day use permit ahead of time for $1.50 through the online reservation system. These permits can be purchased in advance, which is recommended, as the Forest Service expects high demand on the 165 daily permits.
Forest Service officials will patrol the parking lot and trail to ensure hikers have their Dog Mountain permits on hand. As cell service can be spotty, consider printing off your permit ahead of time to avoid a possible citation.
Permits are capped at 4 per person, and every individual, including kids, must carry proof of paid fees. Note that the day use fee only covers the permit. There are 70 spaces at the trailhead parking lot, and a parking pass costs $5 per day without a Northwest Forest or Interagency Pass.
Option #2: Shuttle From Skamania County Fairgrounds
To avoid purchasing a permit, hikers can park at the Skamania County Fairgrounds and load the shuttle bus to Dog Mountain for $2.00 roundtrip (or $1 one way). Dogs are allowed on the shuttle, and by purchasing a bus pass, riders automatically receive day-use Dog Mountain permits.
The Skamania shuttle bus only runs on weekends, so if you plan to hike during the week, you’ll need to park at the trailhead and pay the appropriate parking fees.
- Shuttle picks up from Skamania County Fairgrounds between 7:30am and 1:30pm
- Last shuttle departs from Dog Mountain Trailhead at 4:30pm
Concerns For Access
While this may solve congestion and encourage hikers to take the shuttle, it might also create barriers to access. In a time when there’s a push to make the outdoors more accessible, creating a permit and fee system could curb those efforts.
Until there’s a more permanent solution to congestion and safety concerns, the Forest Service will enforce high season permits on Dog Mountain.
If you have any questions or concerns, contact the Forest Service at (541) 308-1700.