Best Cascade Mountain Hikes Near Portland and Vancouver | Cascade Forest Conservancy

Our Favorite Hikes

The Cascade Forest Conservancy’s staff, board, and friends love to spend time in the beautiful Gifford Pinchot National Forest. We compiled a few of our favorite adventures to share some of these special places. Whether you have never visited the GPNF or already have many memories of it, we hope you find a new reason to love the forest!


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Falls Creek Falls

Distance: 3-7 miles round trip depending on route.

Location: Mt. Adams Ranger District – Oldman Pass

Why its one of our favorite hikes: Hike through forest along Falls Creek and over a suspension bridge. From this trail you can get good views of Falls Creek Falls and hike to the base of the falls.

How to get there: Take I-84 to Exit #44/Cascade Locks. Cross the Bridge of the Gods ($2 toll) and turn right toward Stevenson. Turn left onto the Wind River Highway toward Carson. A little after milepost 14, look for the Falls Creek Falls sign and turn right onto road #3062. Drive on this gravel road for about 2 miles until you reach a parking area and the trailhead.

Tip: Look for wildlife like otters and elk. After the hike, consider stopping by Backwoods Brewing in Carson.



Lava Canyon


Distance: 1.1-5.0 miles round trip.

Location: Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

Why its one of our favorite hikes: This hike passes by waterfalls and interesting rock formations, and crosses a bridge over the canyon.

How to get there: Take I-5 to exit #22. Drive east on SR-503 to Cougar (about 28 miles). Continue on FR-90 past the Swift Dam. Turn onto FR-83 and drive 12 miles to the trailhead.

Tip: The beginning of this hike is ADA-accessible.





Goat Lake

Distance: 10.4 miles round trip.

Location: Cowlitz Valley Ranger District – Goat Rocks Wilderness

Why its one of our favorite hikes: The steep, mountainous terrain of this trail may be challenging, but it is well worth it for the views of glaciated peaks, wildflowers, and berries. This is a fantastic backpacking trip to enjoy solitude within a large wilderness area.

How to get there: From Packwood, drive west on Highway 12 for two miles. Turn left onto FR-21 (Johnson Creek Road) and continue for about 15.5 miles – the road is gravel and sometimes rough. Turn left onto FR-2150 (see sign for Chambers Lake Campground), and in 3.1 miles turn right onto a dirt road that leads to the trailhead.

Tip: This hike is highly seasonal and thaws relatively late each year.


Gotchen Creek

Gotchen Creek Old-Growth Ponderosa Pine. Photo by Darryl LLoyd.

Distance: 11.2 mile loop.

Location: Mt. Adams Ranger District

Why its one of our favorite hikes: This hike along the south side of Mt. Adams

is east of the Cascade crest and has a drier forest type than the rest of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Here you can see old ponderosa pines and other plant species associated with drier forests.

How to get there: From Trout Lake, WA head towards Mt Adams Recreation area and follow the signs for the sno-parks to Forest Road 82.  Continue on Forest Road 82, and at the Pineside Sno Park veer left onto Forest Road 8225. Follow Forest Road 8225 for approximately 4 miles until the junction of the 8020.  Turn left and the trailhead is approximately 2 tenths of a mile on the right.



June Lake

Distance: 2.6 miles round-trip.

Location: Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

Why its one of our favorite hikes: This short hike leads to June Lake, the awesome waterfall that feeds the lake, and mountain views. It is a great hike for kids!

How to get there: From Cougar, WA drive east for about 13 miles on State Route 503. Take a left on Forest Road 83 and travel approximately 7 miles to the turn off to June Lake Trailhead. Turn left and follow the road to the parking area.

Tip: This is a good hike for snowshoeing. Some years there may even be snow on the trail until June.


Killen Creek

Distance: 10.0 miles round-trip.

Location: Mt. Adams Ranger District – Mt. Adams Wilderness

Why its one of our favorite hikes: With mountain views, meadows, glacial streams, abundant wildflowers, and ponds, this hike makes a wonderful backpacking trip.

How to get there: From Trout Lake, WA, take Mt Adams Road for 1.3 mi. Continue on Forest Road 23 towards ​Randle and follow for approximately 23 miles. Then take Forest Road 2329 (towards Takhlakh Lake) and follow for about 5 miles to the trailhead.

Tip: There are a lot of mosquitos in June and July!


Observation Peak

Distance: 5.0+ miles round-trip.

Location: Mt. Adams Ranger District – Trapper Creek Wilderness

Why its one of our favorite hikes: This hike leads to the site of a former fire lookout. From this trail, hikers can see the nearby Cascade peaks, wildflowers, and large trees as the trail skirts the edge of the Trapper Creek Wilderness.

How to get there: Drive north from Carson on the Wind River Highway to where the highway becomes Forest Road 30 also known as the Wind River Hwy. Continue north passing the fish hatchery where the road splits. To get to the Observation Peak Trailhead, continue on the Wind River Hwy about 2 more miles past the split. Look for Forest Road 64 on your left. Follow paved road 64 as it climbs past the Big Hollow Trailhead and turns to gravel after about 4.5 miles. Continue about 1.2 miles on 64, then veer left on Forest Road 58. Follow 58 for 2.0 miles to the Observation Peak Trailhead.

Tip: Can be combined with other trails in and around the Trapper Creek Wilderness for a longer or overnight hike.