Angel’s Rest is a great short hike ending on a spectacular promontory. It can also be overcrowded. Nearby Devil’s Rest, on the other hand, is less well known, and the trails have relatively few hikers. It is accessible from Angels Rest, but I chose to hike from Wahkeena Falls. The trailhead there also experiences crowds, but once above the falls, they gradually decrease. I’d hiked the lower portion last year, but I’d never climbed Devil’s Rest. Ten days ago, I finally made it to a completely underwhelming summit.
Luckily, there are great vantage points along the way, and very pretty forests for hiking. The upper portion of the climb was fairly taxing for me There were two great viewpoints looking across the Gorge. The summit consisted of two separate jumbles of mossy boulders in the trees. My pup and I sat there for ten or fifteen minutes relaxing, and then we descended via a loop trail connecting to the Angel’s Rest trail. The forest was very different: deciduous, muddy, and open. Once I reached the springs near the Wahkeena trail junction, I was in cruise mode. This hike has a nice balance of exercise (a bit over seven miles), solitude (on the Devil’s Rest trail proper), and beauty. It’s not a wish-list hike, but the details add up to a very nice experience.
One of the best short hikes in Oregon lies at the west end of the Columbia Gorge. After spending a night in the city, I decided to take a gander at one of my favorite hikes from my college days, Angel’s Rest. It had probably been at least 15 years since I hiked it, and I was curious to see if it was enjoyable as I remembered.
The trailhead is easily found just off Highway 84 at the Bridalveil exit. There’s no need to disguise it, as this area is obviously no secret. I was there at 8 a.m. on a Sunday, and there were already seven or eight cars there. Not exactly undiscovered, but still a gem.
I passed one couple on the way up, enjoying the cool morning. Somehow, although I almost felt underdressed, I was sweating. I soon got views through the trees and spots where the trail opened up on old mossy rock slides. Below me lay the mighty Columbia River, one of the largest rivers in North America. An impressive sight, indeed.
The trail soon crosses a creek, then grinds through some relatively painless switchbacks up the ridge. There are various views along the way. Eventually a rocky brow appears above the switchbacks, but it still takes a while to get to the top, including crossing a broad rockslide decked out with two improvised rock shelters. No, I am sure these are not the remnants of a paleolithic society. A more likely scenario: a hiker had way too much time on her hands.
I reach the top of Angel’s Rest in an hour. It is a spectacular rocky spur jutting out over the Gorge, its open nature reminiscent of much higher alpine spots. There are great views to the north, east, and west.
Jackie and I have the rocky ramparts to ourselves until the couple I passed walks by with a nod. They meander to the far end of the promontory, where they soak in the views.
I am glad that the top is warmer than the woods. I relax for a while, but I need to get back to business. It is over an hour home and I have work to think about and bills to pay.
So: onward and downward. A lot more people were hiking up now. Some seemed ill-prepared, but so it goes on a trail close to the highway. A number of hikers had dogs. To avoid hassles, I put Jackie on leash for most of the descent. He is an easy pup to control, and our descent was smooth.
We got back to the car by 10:30 a.m., having hiked 4.6 miles, pleased with ourselves. Jackie would sleep well on the way home. And yes, the trail is as good as I remembered.