Sunday, April 10, 2022

Hike: Dog Mountain, Carson, WA


AllTrails map

Selfie from the top of the Dog Mountain Trail

Getting There

I took WA-14 eastbound from Vancouver, WA. It's 54 miles from Vancouver and 6.2 miles from the Carson turnoff/round-about.

Note: "A Dog Mountain Trail System Permit is required April 23 through June 12 (Saturday and Sunday only)." -

Since the weather was looking inclement, I didn't want to venture up to Phlox/Equestrian or Hamilton parking lots. While it was rainy in the early afternoon, it could change to freezing while I was hiking, no bueno. I considered Table Mountain from the Bonneville Trailhead but it is such a long approach through the flatlands. I decided on Dog Mountain since the trailhead is just off the road and offered some good elevation gain.

The Hike

Length: 6.35 mi
Elevation gain: 2,815 ft
Moving time: 3:06:45
Avg. pace: 29:23
Calories: 1,645
Total time: 3:31:10
Steps (Fitbit): 18,847
Zone Min (Fitbit): 10 (8 Fat Burn, 2 Cardio/Peak)
Floors (Fitbit): 259
Cals (Fitbit): 3,337

The first part of the trail was really nice, no mud but it's a leg burner :). On my ascent, I hadn't seen any trace of snow until pretty close to where the "more difficult" and "difficult" trails converged. 

I stopped and put on my pack rain cover, gaiters and microspikes. I also donned my warm hat. In a fortunate stroke of serendipity, I left my usual light hiking jacket at home so I wore my ski jacket. I needed it. I had my light duty gloves but had my ski gloves in my pack. My hands were pretty cold but I stubbornly didn't get the warmer gloves out.

Lots of people on their descent volunteered that the snow was pretty heavy at the top. A few people admitted to being under prepared. In fact, I passed a young couple where were wearing running shows and cotton sweat shirt.

I definitely needed the microspikes between the trail split and Puppy Dog viewpoint. It was pretty slushy and I kept having to knock clumps of debris (a mixture mud, snow, pine needles) from the bottom of my boot.

At Puppy Dog viewpoint, the snow got a lot deeper. There were decent footholes but visibility was poor. A person that had passed me was on their way down, citing the wind. I forged on, determined to get to the top, but then again, I wasn't sure. I kept seeing fresh footprints.

Once I reached a section where there was no wind, I knew I could make it the rest of the way.

After the last switch back, I called out to the little shelter under the trees to see if it was occupied. It wasn't but there was a guy just off to the left in the trees. He acknowledged me and we said hello. He offered his spot when he left.

The apple I had was nearly frozen or at least firm & unappetizing. I adjusted my gear and started my descent.

It was slow progress because it was slushy and a bit slippery despite having microspikes. Eventually I reached a point where I didn't need the spikes. I carried them for awhile and found a spot to stop and pack them so I could use my poles more easily.

At the viewpoint at 1600 ft, I met the guy from the top and other person. We chatted for a minute about the trail conditions.

Somewhere along the way my left leg/IT band was really barking. I stopped a few time to stretch but it only helped a little. I limped the rest of the way. I noticed that hiker behind me getting closer but he never passed me. 

So worth the cold and snow. Great hike!

Top of the Dog Mountain Trail

Selfie from under a tree at the top

Look back at the trail in snow zone

Look ahead at the trail

Trail split near the beginning

No snow down here

Columbia River on the descent

AllTrails recording: