Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness: Columbia Gorge
Please view the special regulations associated with Wilderness areas and always use Leave No Trace techniques to help keep these areas wild, clean, and pristine.
Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness covers 65,822 acres of basalt cliffs, waterfalls, and lush coniferous forests between Mt. Hood’s northern slope and the sheer cliffs south of the Columbia River. Not far from the only sea-level route through the Cascades, its northern boundary within the National Scenic Area is near a busy transportation corridor, while its southwest boundary is much more remote terrain in Mt. Hood National Forest. Travelers seeking solitude may pass through heavily visited areas within the Columbia River Gorge before the crowds thin, making it critical to practice leave no trace principles and observe the wilderness ethic and regulations.
First designated in 1984, Hatfield Wilderness was expanded in 2009 to include the Gorge Face (from Oneonta Creek west to Viento Creek) and Larch Mountain (Oneonta Creek canyon, Bell Creek, and Multnomah Creek). The main waterways through the area flow north toward the Columbia, through old growth western hemlock and Douglas fir. The wilderness trails that start in the National Scenic Area climb steep drainages to Benson Plateau before continuing on to mountain peaks (4,900-foot Mount Defiance), talus slopes, and high elevation lakes. Those uncomfortable with heights should be aware that these hikes pass steep cliffs and drop-offs. The rewards for trekkers include spectacular views, sparkling waterfalls, and serene old growth forests with mossy-green cliff faces.
Bull Run Watershed, located at the southwest boundary of the wilderness, provides drinking water to the Portland metropolitan area. It is closed to public entry except for the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail which travels along the watershed’s eastern edge.
At a Glance
|Current Conditions:||Parts of the wilderness are closed due to post-fire hazards. Plan your hike carefully, and check specific trails for status. Do not hike off trail and respect closure signs.|
|Fees:||Bridge of the Gods Trailhead, Eagle Creek, Wahclella, Herman Creek, Larch Mountain, and Wyeth Trailheads all require a day use fee, a NW Forest Pass, or other valid interagency recreation pass.|
|Permit Info:||Wilderness Permits are required for day use and overnight stays from Memorial Day Weekend until Oct. 31. Free permits are self-issued at the trailhead.|
|Restrictions:||Wilderness restrictions apply
|Closest Towns:||Hood River and Cascade Locks, OR|
Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness is located east of Portland, OR, and can be accessed from several trailheads off I-84 in the Columbia River Gorge, or via Wahtum Lake in the Mt. Hood National Forest.
- Wahclella Falls: day hike with no connection to other trails.
- Eagle Creek Trailhead: Eagle Creek Trail #440, Ruckel Creek Trail #405
- Bridge of the Gods Trailhead: Pacific Crest Trail #2000. Visitors may find other parking options in the town of Cascade Locks.
- Herman Creek Trailhead: Herman Creek Trail #406, Gorton Creek Trail #408, and Nick Eaton Trail #447
- Starvation Creek State Park: Mt Defiance Trail #413 and Starvation Ridge Trail #414 via the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail.
- State Park Trailheads on the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail provide access to Nesmith Point Trail #428 and Tanner Butte Trail #401
The Waterfall Corridor of the Historic Columbia River is a popular (and congested) entry point from which many longer trails enter the wilderness, including:
- Horsetail Falls Trailhead- Horsetail Falls Trail #438 junctions with Oneonta Trail #424
- Oneonta Trailhead - Oneonta Trail #424 leads to a number of other trails
- A segment of Larch Mountain Trail, which starts at Multnomah Falls, passes through the Wilderness Area.
How to Get Maps
- Download free U.S. Forest Service Topo maps here - choose Bonneville Dam, Carson, Dee, Mount Defiance, Tanner Butte, and Wahtum Lake.
- Buy maps online at the National Forest Store
- Visit Wilderness.net for online maps and more details about designated Wilderness areas.
Lake and Pond Fishing
River and Stream Fishing
Areas for Day Hiking at Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness: Columbia Gorge
- Moffett Creek Trail (#430)
- Mount Defiance Trail (#413)
- Nesmith Point Trail (#428)
- Starvation Ridge Trail (#414)
- Tanner Butte Trail (#401)
- Tanner Creek Trail (#431)
Areas for Backpacking at Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness: Columbia Gorge
Alerts & Warnings
- Waterfall Corridor Timed Use Permits begin May 24
- Closure Update: Eagle Creek Fire
- Firewood available again
- Spring weekend hiking permits for Dog Mountain
- Drones prohibited in wilderness and select recreation sites
- Klickitat Mile One Overnight Use & Large Boat Launch Prohibition
- Guard against car theft
- Check road and weather conditions