Stacker Butte─Blossoming Queen of the Columbia River Gorge

Big sky and bountiful blossoms on Stacker Butte

Big sky and bountiful blossoms on Stacker Butte

Quick Facts:

Location: Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

Land Agency: Washington Department of Natural Resources

Roundtrip: 5.0 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,150 feet

Contact: Washington DNR Southeast Region

Notes: Discover Pass required; Dogs prohibited; Practice Leave No Trace Principles

Recommended Resource: Day Hiking Columbia River Gorge

Green trails Map: Columbia River Gorge West No. 432S 

Good to know: Exceptional spring wildflowers, sweeping views, bird-watching, historical

Access: From Portland follow I-84 east to Exit 87. Then head north on US 197 for 3.3 miles to its terminus with WA SR 14. Turn right and after .9 mile turn left onto gravel Dalles Mountain Road. Proceed 3.4 miles to an old ranch and turn left. Continue for 1.4 miles to a gate. Park here—being sure not to block gate.

While this hike consists of walking a service road to a ridgeline full of towers; it is an exceptional trip never-the-less. Views are non-stop from the windblown sun-kissed slopes; and in springtime—right now actually—Stacker Butte stacks up among the finest flower hikes anywhere! Balsamroot, lupine, paintbrush, phlox, larkspur, and others paint this Columbia Hills peak in a radiant array of color.

And the service road? Don’t fret—it’s closed to private vehicles. Your walk should be a peaceful affair. But please be sure not to wander off of it as you’ll be traversing a Natural Area Preserve, designated to protect an array of rare plants, including obscure buttercup, Douglas’ draba, and hot-rock penstemon. Kind of sounds like a lineup of 1960s psychedelic bands!

Follow the well-graded road, climbing steadily across wide open slopes. At just over one mile keep left where a jeep track diverts right to Oak Spring (a nice side trip). Continue climbing soon cresting the ridge and reaching a large tower. Continue climbing a little more and reach Stacker Butte’s 3,200-foot summit, occupied by an intriguing aviation tower.

Now let your eyes take off for the horizons soaking up incredible views—south to wheat fields and Mount Hood—west to Mount Defiance in the heart of the gorge—east to desert steppe—and north to Mount Adams hovering above Swale Canyon. Stacker Butte stacks up among the finest flower and view hikes in the gorge!

For more information on this hike and 99 others in the Columbia River Gorge, check out my  Day Hiking Columbia River Gorge.



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