Elevation Gain: Leafly’s Guide to the 10 Best High Hikes in Oregon
Welcome to Elevation Gain, where we’ll pair cannabis with hiking, backpacking, camping, and all the greatest aspects of the great outdoors … all summer long. Check out all Elevation Gain articles here.
Nestled between California’s sun-soaked beaches and Washington’s famous Seattle skyline lies one of America’s most beautiful gems: the state of Oregon. Punctuated with coastal cliffs, verdant countryside, lush valleys, and towering mountains, Oregon offers the best of the best when it comes to trails, hikes, and all manner of outdoor activities.
To celebrate the natural beauty that this gorgeous state has to offer, we put together our own Leafly guide to Oregon’s best high hikes—each and every one of these is made better with a little cannabis in hand. Fill your water bottle and grab your hiking boots, because you’ll want to explore every destination—and then some—scattered across the always splendid Sunset State!
Ramona Falls – Mount Hood National Forest
Ramona Falls is one of Oregon’s most alluring waterfalls, and it’s easy to see why. The falls reach 120 feet in height as crystal waters continually cascade into the Sandy River below. Trust us, the distance is worth the reward on this one.
Distance: 7 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,100 ft.
Wizard Island – Crater Lake National Park
For a unique hiking experience literally off the beaten path, check out Wizard Island next to Crater Lake National Park. Only accessible via boat, this isle is actually a cinder cone formed by volcanic activity close to 8,000 years ago. You’ll get a chance to take in plenty of gorgeous ancient landscaping at this fascinating trail favorite. Reservations for the boats may be made at Crater Lake Volcano Boat Tours.
Distance: 1–2 miles
Elevation Gain: 744 ft.
Watchman Peak Trail – Crater Lake National Park
For boat-free sightseeing, make your way to Watchman Peak Trail and soak in the sight of Wizard Island and the stunning Crater Lake. You’ll find a historic fire lookout at the top of the trail which will give you the best views of both the island and the expansive lake around it.
Distance: 1–2 miles
Elevation Gain: 416 ft.
Steens Mountain – Eastern Oregon
Steens Mountain in eastern Oregon is a little less busy and ideal for those who prefer a bit more peace and quiet in the great outdoors, yet it still offers incredible trails and spectacular views. Though it reaches more than 9,000 feet in elevation, getting to the summit isn’t as difficult as it would seem—you can drive quite a ways up before hiking a short distance to the peak. While you’re there, check out Wildhorse Lake for an additional breathtaking hike.
Distance: 3 miles
Elevation Gain: 1200 ft.
Ice Lake – Wallowa Mountains
With meadow flowers blooming around mid-summer, you won’t want to miss this refreshing and colorful hike within the Wallowa Mountains. Surrounding the crystal-clear Ice Lake are towering peaks, verdant forests, beautiful waterfalls, and myriad other natural spectaculars. Plan to spend a few days in this wilderness to fully soak in everything it has to offer.
Distance: 15–16 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,380 ft.
Natural Bridges Cove — Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor
Oregon’s Natural Bridges Cove looks like it should be in a storybook of magical creatures and daring adventures. Not only that, the hike leading up to the viewpoint goes through lush forests, adding a touch more charm to this already enchanting trail. The bridge is in fact considered a natural wonder, which is fitting against Oregon’s rustic terrain.
Distance: 2.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 400 ft.
Bagby Hot Springs – Mount Hood National Forest
Due to Bagby Hot Springs‘ popularity, get up early to make it to the springs before the crowd (or opt to visit during the week or wintertime). Once there, we guarantee it’ll be worth it. Sink into these natural warming waters to feel true relaxation seep into your bones. After your visit, you’ll be ready to take on even the most grueling hikes nearby—and feel free to take another dip after you get back from them! For a less traveled hot spring option, check out Terwilliger (Cougar) Hot Springs located in Willamette Valley. Note: Clothing is optional at the springs, so don’t be surprised if you come across a few free spirits here and there.
Distance: 3.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 200 ft.
Angel’s Rest Trail – Columbia River Gorge
Perched at the top of almost every “Best of Oregon” list is the breathtaking Angel’s Rest Trail. Aptly named, this hike offers views of Oregon and the Columbia River Gorge that are practically unmatched and utterly heavenly. Start your hike early and reach the viewpoint at sunrise for a truly fantastic visual experience.
Distance: 4.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,500 ft.
Oregon Caves – Siskiyou Mountains
Happy National Day of Caves and Karst! This day is intended to increase awareness of the importance of caves in our lives and as part of the regional ecology. Oregon Caves has been a point of tourism and community participation in the Illinois Valley since the 19th century. From an ecological standpoint, our cave is a sanctuary for sensitive species and an balancing alkaline contributor to the Illinois River watershed. (dck & kg) #OregonCaves #NPS #NPwest #FindYourPark #encuentratuparque #PNW #NCA #speleo #caves #NationalDayofCavesAndKarst
Commonly referred to as the “Marble Halls of Oregon,” the Oregon Caves within the Siskiyou Mountains offer a gorgeous and unique experience. Tours are offered from March through November and we recommend opting for the Candlelight Tour, where you can view the caves as its first explorers would have discovered them—by the flickering light of candles! The caves are surrounded by gorgeous mountain meadows and trails, so once you’re done exploring what lies within, you’ll have a chance to wander the wilderness outside.
Distance: 1 mile
Elevation Gain: N/A
South Sister Trail – Three Sisters Wilderness
Though it’s the most difficult hike on this list, you’ll regret passing up South Sister Trail when the opportunity arises. This long yet dazzling hike will lead you to unparalleled views of Middle Sister, North Sister, and even Mount Hood. Be sure to start the climb on a clear day in order to maximize its incredible sights.
Distance: 11–13 miles
Elevation Gain: 4,908 ft.
Didn’t see your favorite Oregon hike on the list? Tell us where you love to go in the comments!