Larch Mountain Turnoff
From Chanticleer Point, if you veer right on the road marked “Larch Mountain” at the Y intersection with the highway, you’ll go 14 miles to an overlook featuring views of the snowcapped Cascades as well as the Columbia all the way west to Portland.
There are also picnic tables and trailheads for hikes to the Gorge below, and gorgeous beargrass blossoms in June. Later, August’s huckleberries and mushrooms after the first rains await foragers.
To enjoy one of Oregon’s classic sunsets, head to the northeast corner of the Larch Mountain parking lot around dusk and follow a gently rolling 0.25-mile paved path through forests of old-growth noble fir. The trail’s last 100 yards are a steep climb up to an outcropping. This is Sherrard Point, and it has preeminent alpine views on a clear day.
To the east, across miles of treetops, is Mount Hood. To the south is Mount Jefferson’s symmetrical cone. To the north, Mounts St. Helens, Rainier, and Adams are visible. To the west the Columbia River becomes bathed in reddish glow during sunset. With the coming of nightfall, the lights of Portland blink in the darkness.
An ambitious hike involving a car shuttle between trailheads lets you trek from Larch Mountain down to Multnomah Falls Lodge. This trail drops 4,000 feet in 6.8 miles. To reach the descent route from Larch Mountain viewpoint, retrace your steps along the path back toward the parking lot. About halfway back, veer right up the spur trail that crests on a hill. From this hilltop, head west a short distance toward a picnic area, where the trail down to the Gorge begins.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel