WHY IT’S GREAT: Jutting some 1,500 feet above the Columbia River Gorge, the rocky peak at the top of this challenging wilderness ramble makes good on its cherubic namesake by delivering unequaled panoramas of rugged Northwest landscape. Accessible year round, Angels Rest commands a magnificent view of the Willamette Valley to the west and the iconic Beacon Rock near the northern banks of the Columbia River. Motivated Portlanders can also reach the trailhead in less than 30 minutes. It’s perfect for get-up-and-go types wanting to capitalize on the scant days when the sun manages to break out of its mid-winter slump and for the time-pressed outdoorsman. Nowhere else can such a mesmerizing view of the Gorge be had within a half-hour’s drive of Portland.
ROUTE: Access the trailhead just east of the Historic Columbia River Highway. Here the path begins its gradual 2.3-mile climb under a canopy of maple and fir trees. At the half-mile point hikers can enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the 100-foot-tall Coopey Falls spraying down a dark basalt canyon wall. Once past the tiny wooden bridge spanning Coopey Creek, the well-trodden trail winds up several switchbacks leading to the remains of an old rock slide. After negotiating the boulder field, continue up the narrow ridge to the left and make the final scramble onto the wide open summit. Return the same way. Maps: www.gorgefriends.org
GETTING THERE: Travel east on I-84 for 28 miles and take exit 28 toward Bridal Veil. Continue approximately ¾ of mile to the intersection of the Historic Columbia River Highway and park in the large lot to the right. No fees or permits required. —Brian Barker