Directions: Take I-84 to Hood River and get onto Highway 35. Continue on Highway 35 and follow signs for Dee, you will cross the Hood River and turn left. Follow the signs for Wahtum Lake. Take road 13 for 4 miles and then a right onto Road 1310 for about 6 miles to the trailhead and parking area.
Anyone who hasn’t hiked Wahtum Lake to Chinidere Mountain should definitely put this on their list of hikes to do. This is our third time doing it and we’ll definitely be back.
This hike starts out by going down 258 uneven wooden steps, to the lake shore. Follow the slightly rocky trail to the right and around the lake. Early in the trail the trees and bushes are a lot thicker, and as you climb steadily the undergrowth thins out into a mature forest. The trail is pretty well marked. There are two intersections, the first sign will tell you that you are on the Pacific Crest Trail, follow the arrow to the Columbia River. The second sign will point you up towards Chinidere Mountain.
Heading up to Chinidere Mountain is vastly different than hiking around the lake. You’ll gain a little more than 600 feet of elevation in about a half mile, which can be rough. The half mile is made up of steep, uneven switchbacks. On the way up there are a few side trails with good views. When you come out on the shale rock you are almost there. Keep an eye out for wildflowers and birds.
At the top, the lack of space is totally made up for by the amazing 360 degree views. On a clear day you can see five mountains (Hood, St. Helens, Jefferson, Rainier, and Adams). It’s very exposed and windy, so all the sweat you built up on the way will definitely cool you off. To get back, go out the same way you came in. Make sure you stop and take in the lake (and maybe pick a few Huckleberries) before you slog back up all those stairs to your car.
Distance: 4.5 miles
Elevation: 1,150 feet
Difficulty: Easy around the lake, hard up to Chinidere Mountain
Pet Friendly: Yes
Good For: All ages around the lake, may not be best for everyone to go up the mountain.
Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass
Seasons: Spring through fall
Overall: Love the view and all the wildflowers!