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The 10 Most Beautiful Wildflower Hikes in the Pacific Northwest

  |  Central Oregon, Neighborhood Insight, Portland, Southwest Washington, Travel

Spring has sprung! While the Pacific Northwest has no shortage of exceptional hikes accessible all year long, spring is a particularly ideal time to enjoy the great outdoors. The temperatures are pleasant, the sun is shining, birds are chirping, and perhaps most significantly — wildflowers are blooming.

Maximize this idyllic season with our list of the best wildflower hikes in the Pacific Northwest — from the Portland Metro Area to Central Oregon, and several in between. We’ve included a mix of easy loop trails, challenging climbs, coastal hikes, and desert trails. While they vary in difficulty and terrain, each trail shares one thing in common — a colorful display of wildflowers during the spring!

 

PORTLAND AREA:

Camassia Natural Area Loop | West Linn, Oregon

Distance: 1.4 Miles

Difficulty: Easy

Camassia Natural Area West Linn, OR

Photo Courtesy of LiefPhotos.com

Situated just south of Portland in West Linn, the Camassia Natural Area is a protected preserve with a variety of wildflower meadows. The first meadow is filled with Common Camas early in the year, along with Rosy Plectritis and Oregon Saxifrage. Plus, the small wetland area is one of the best places in the Northwest to see Great Camas, a stunning blueish-purple plant native to the region. This short loop hike is perfect for an easy-going stroll through the park — with no shortage of springtime scenery. The Common Camas can bloom at the preserve all the way through April and May.

 

Outer Loop at Tryon Creek State Park | Portland, Oregon

Distance: 5.7 Miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Outer Loop at Tryon Creek State Park | Portland, Oregon

This popular state park in Southwest Portland puts on a wonderful display of Trillium flowers during the spring. In fact, it is home to the annual Trillium Festival in April! But you can see a number of other gorgeous wildflowers all spring long, especially along the 5.7-mile Outer Loop. Or take a look at the vast network of trails winding throughout the park for a shorter or longer trek.

 

SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON:

Dog Mountain Trail | Cook, Washington

Distance: 6.9 Miles

Difficulty: Difficult

Dog Mountain Hike

Photo Courtesy of Cheryl Hill, Trailkeepers of Oregon

This popular hike attracts hikers from all over due to its access to the Gorge, exceptional views, and relatively short distance. But you’ll have to work for your views! The 6.9-mile trail is very steep, requiring both fitness and perseverance. If you want an easier route, consider walking the 1.5 miles up to the lower viewpoint and turning around. Many come to Dog Mountain to view wildflowers — especially in May and June, which means you’ll need a permit to access the trail between April and July. We recommend starting your hike either early in the morning (before 8 a.m.) or in the late afternoon to avoid the heavier foot traffic.

 

Lacamas Heritage Trail | Camas, Washington

Distance: 7 Miles

Difficulty: Easy

Lacamas Heritage Trail | Camas, Washington

Photo Courtesy of John Sparks, Trailkeepers of Oregon

Take a peaceful stroll along the wide and flat Lacamas Heritage Trail circling the shore of Lacamas Lake. In addition to the stunning lake views, you’ll see plenty of native wildflowers blooming along the trail during the spring, enhancing the already gorgeous scene. This is a popular out-and-back trail for joggers, walkers, and cyclists — especially on a pretty day in the spring and summer.

 

CENTRAL OREGON:

Iron Mountain | Sweet Home, Oregon

Distance: 2.4 Miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Iron Mountain | Sweet Home, Oregon

Photo Courtesy of LiefPhotos.com

Situated just east of Sweet Home near Tombstone Pass, this out-and-back hike is an excellent place to see wildflowers in Central Oregon. You’ll discover over 300 species of plants and wildflowers, in addition to about 17 tree species. Travel along fairly steep switchbacks to encounter views of Mount Jefferson, the Three Sisters, and a variety of wildflowers during the spring.

 

Scout Camp Trail Loop | Terrebone, Oregon

Distance: 2.3 Miles

Difficulty: Moderate

This quintessential Central Oregon hike offers a desert feel the area is known for. This 2.5-mile loop is pretty steep and can get very hot on a sunny day, so come prepared with a hat and plenty of sunscreen. During the spring, the trail is dotted with blooming balsamroot, goldthread, yellow bell, bitterroot, and other beautiful desert flowers. Plus, enjoy views of the Deschutes River and surrounding scenery all the while.

 

OREGON COAST:

Cascade Head Trail | Otis, Oregon

Distance: 6.8 Miles

Difficulty: Moderate

This trail along the Oregon Coast is one of the most scenic hikes in the area. After climbing several switchbacks towards the middle of the hike, you’ll encounter views down a cliff to the Pacific, followed by an upper viewpoint. This headland meadow hosts a rare ecosystem, including two rare plants, the Cascade Head Catchfly and the Hairy Stemmed Checkermallow. It’s estimated that 99 percent of the extremely rare Cascade Head Catchfly flower reside on this hill!

 

Kings Mountain Trail | Tillamook, Oregon

Distance: 5 Miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Travel along the rugged and challenging Kings Mountain Trail, which travels through towering trees and offers endless views of surrounding scenery. And during the spring, even through late May and early June, admire a variety of wildflowers, including beargrass, penstemon, phlox, paintbrush, and even the rare phantom orchid.

 

HOOD RIVER AREA:

Lyle Cherry Orchard | Lyle, Oregon

Distance: 5.2 Miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Lyle Cherry Orchard | Lyle, Oregon

Photo Courtesy of John Sparks, Trailkeepers of Oregon

Considered one of the most scenic hikes in the Columbia Gorge, the Lyle Cherry Orchard trail is a 5.2-mile out-and-back hike with stunning views and moderate difficulty. Boasting southern exposure and an open landscape, this is one of the best early spring hikes in the Gorge. But the stunning views of wildflowers — and of course, the Gorge — extends all the way through May, with the peak time to view wildflowers being mid-to-late April.

 

Mosier Plateau Trail | Mosier, Oregon

Distance: 3.5 Miles

Difficulty: Easy

 Mosier Plateau Trail | Mosier, Oregon

Photo Courtesy of John Sparks, Trailkeepers of Oregon

Since opening just a few years ago, this relatively short and easy trail has become quite popular — especially during the spring and summer. Admire more than 30 different wildflower species, mostly visible on the plateau meadows in April and May. And during the summer, many frequent Mosier Creek to swim during July and August when the water is warmest. Keep an eye out for wildlife, like deer and turkey, during the winter and early spring!

 

Happy Trails!

There are so many more wildflower hikes in the region worth exploring. Which are your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Looking for more information?

Check out OregonWildflowers.org, a community resource for wildflower and photography enthusiasts to share information on where and when to visit Oregon and Southwest Washington’s best wildflower spots. You can find the best wildflower locations (along with an interactive map), and read — or add your own — trip reports and photos. You can also participate in user forum discussions, and download free wallpaper to brighten your desktop!

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About the Author

Courtney Itami

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