Angel's Rest Trail

Angel’s Rest Trail: Everything You Need to Know to Hike This Gorge Beauty

Angel’s Rest Trail Quick Facts

  • Length: 4.8 miles roundtrip
  • Type: Out and back
  • Elevation Gain: 1,475 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All but best April through October
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Restrooms: No
  • Pass Needed: No
  • Dogs: Leashed
  • Busy: Yes

Angel’s Rest Trail

The Angel’s Rest Trail is a heavily trafficked out and back trail in the Columbia River Gorge. Just 30 minutes east of Portland, Angel’s Rest is a great bang for your buck trail with a combination of moderate elevation gain, moderate distance, and stunning views.

Those who reach the Angel’s Rest find themselves perched atop an exposed bluff on the western side of the Columbia River Gorge. Created during a million-year-old lava flow from Larch Mountain, the summit consists of a long rocky ridge surrounded by cliffs on three sides. This ridge also boasts an amazing 270-degree view of the Columbia River and surrounding landmarks.

Getting There

From Portland, hikers must travel along scenic Interstate-84 and take exit 28 onto Historic Route 30 toward Bridal Veil. Drive the short distance up to Highway 30, take a right, and the parking lot is immediately after the turn. The Angel’s Rest Trail parking lot fills up fast, but additional parking is a few hundred feet further up the highway.

If you’re coming westbound on I-84, you’ll need to take exit 35 at Ainsworth State Park and follow the Historic Columbia River Highway (Highway 30) 7 miles to the Angel’s Rest Trail parking lot on the right side of the road.

If you’d prefer to make a road trip or day trip out of your hike and want to take the scenic route, you can also take the Historic Columbia River Highway. From Portland, you’ll take I-84 east to Troutdale, where you’ll take exit 18. Drive along the Sandy River to the Sandy River Bridge, then follow keystone-shaped signs through Corbett, Crown Point, and the waterfall area. Finally, pull into the Angel’s Rest Trail parking lot near Bridal Veil.

The Hike

The Angel’s Rest Trail begins at the trailhead just off the road on Highway 30.

This 3–4-hour (depending on how much time you spend at the top) hike begins in a thick forest with very few viewpoint opportunities for the first mile or so. The first third of the hike follows a mostly dirt path, although there are several rocky and uneven sections that may be difficult for some hikers.

This thickly wooded first section also allows hikers to see a few of the waterfalls the Columbia River Gorge is famous for. There is an overhead view of Coopey Falls from the Angel’s Rest Trail and a detour trail to Upper Coopey Falls. You’ll also pass the small Coopey Creek and cross over a nice footbridge.

As you ascend further, the trail becomes a bit steeper, with many switchbacks as you traverse the hillside. The trees also become sparser, and you’ll be afforded your first views of the Columbia River. Unfortunately, you’ll also notice evidence of the 2017 wildfires that burned over much of the trail.

The last third of the hike allows for more open views of the Gorge and the Angel’s Rest outcropping above. At various points, you’ll be greeted with views of Larch Mountain and Silver Star Mountain. Be aware as this section of the trail also contains pockets of poison oak.

This final stretch is characterized by a thin trail and thick bushy terrain still recovering from a fire in 1991. There are also two sections of loose shale-like rock on a talus slope that you must navigate. Although the trail is easily discernable due to discoloration from the trek of hikers, many rocks are loose, and this part of the trail may be difficult for some hikers.

Despite the difficulty of the terrain, this section of the trail also boasts some of the most stunning views of the Columbia River and the view back toward Portland.

A few more switchbacks on, and hikers will come to a junction at the crest of the Angel’s Rest promontory. Take the trail to the left toward the river and the large rock outcroppings, which will take you to the viewpoint and the end of the Angel’s Rest Trail. For those looking for a longer loop with more elevation gain, hikers can continue on the trail and complete the Angel’s Rest-Devil’s Rest Loop hike.

There is some climbing required to complete the trail and make it to the end of the viewpoint. While there is plenty of room to relax and enjoy the views, it’s important to remember that there are sheer cliffs on three sides of this outcropping and no safety measures in place. So be sure to stay far away from the cliff edges and to keep children close.

This final perch atop the Angel’s Rest is a perfect place to have a picnic, relax, and enjoy the amazing views of the Columbia River Gorge. Be sure to pack the appropriate gear for dealing with the weather during your hike, including sunscreen or layers for the often brutal wind.

On a clear day, you can see Mount St. Helens and Mount Baker, as well as some of the skyscrapers of downtown Portland. Many especially recommend hiking the Angel’s Rest Trail for viewing sunsets.

Courtesy of OregonHikers.org

Who Should Hike the Angel’s Rest Trail?

Although rated as moderate difficulty, the Angel’s Rest Trail has several sections featuring a very steep incline with switchbacks, uneven surfaces, and loose rocks. There is also some climbing required at the top to get out to the end of the viewpoint.

For these reasons, those with asthma or other breathing difficulties, those not in at least moderate physical shape, or those with balance concerns should reconsider hiking this trail or be sure to bring along any necessary equipment (inhalers, walking sticks, etc.).

Similarly, those with knee or other leg issues may want to reconsider hiking this trail due to the long stretches of the relatively steep descent.

Lastly, families with small children should reconsider due to the difficulty and hazards of this trail.

When to Hike the Angel’s Rest Trail

While the trail is open year-round, it is best to hike April through October, with more chance of clear weather and less wind. Parts of the trail could become muddy and hazardous after rain, and it can get very windy at the top.

This trail is very popular and busy during the day. Thus, early morning or late afternoon will be the best times to help avoid the crowds. Angel’s Rest is also a popular spot to view the sunrise and sunset.

Final Thoughts on the Angel’s Rest Trail Hike 

The Angel’s Rest Trail is one of the best bang-for-your-buck hikes in the Columbia River Gorge.

Boasting fantastic views and moderate difficulty, this hike is accessible to most, and the high foot traffic will help ensure there’s help if needed. You’ll also have full reception throughout the hike.

Although relatively short and close to town, you’ll want to make sure you are properly prepared. Wear sturdy shoes, layers, and bring plenty of water, sunscreen, bug spray, snacks, and other necessities. You may even want to bring a picnic and blanket to further enjoy your time atop the Angel’s Rest.

Just a 30-minute drive from Portland, the Angel’s Rest Trail should be on every outdoor enthusiast’s shortlist.

 

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