Angel’s Rest, in the Columbia Gorge, is hands down the most breath-taking hike I have yet trekked. It’s a heart-pounding 2.4 mile ascent to the top, it completely kicked my ass, but once I reached the summit, MAN! It was worth it!!
I knew Angel’s Rest was going to be a climb, from what my trail book described. But the day was going to be beautiful and I had a rare full day off so I wanted to do a tougher hike. At this point I already had 16 treks under my belt, including the Trail of Ten Falls, which was definitely no joke either. So I figured it was time I tackled this one.
Andrew and I set off in the morning to beat the mid-day heat (it was expected to get up to 90 degrees). After the 30 minute drive (have I mentioned how much I adore how close all this beauty is to the city?) we began our ascent at the trailhead at 10:45am. And for the next two hours and 15 minutes, we climbed. And climbed. And climbed.
I’m not going to put on airs and say I billy-goated my way gracefully to the top like it was no big thang. I would say at first I stopped every half mile to catch my breath. And then once we got into the land of the never-ending switchbacks, I had to catch my breath after every other one. My body and lungs were definitely not used to this. The most I’ve ascended in one fell swoop before hiking Angel’s Rest was probably just over a mile. A steady 2.4 mile ascent is definitely a first for me, ever. It was a challenge, albeit an incredibly rewarding one.
After the land of never-ending switchbacks, there were the rocks. You come up from your switchback ascent, turn a corner, and it looks like the trail ends because, well, it seems covered in crazy amounts of rocks. But no, this is still the trail. You just gotta billy-goat that stuff.
After navigating crazy rock trail, the trail continues in its last section up to the summit. And then BAM. Unspeakable beauty.
We sat at the summit for a while to rehydrate, have a snack, and take in the amazing views (which I don’t feel my camera did justice). Once we were well-rested and nourished, we made our descent back down to the trailhead. I found some comfort as I headed down in seeing some very fit and obviously well-traversed hikers looking a bit winded on the way up. It made me feel not so bad about how winded I got myself, especially since Andrew, though sweaty, looked like he did this all the time.
Going down in some spots almost seemed harder than the ascent. Mainly, because much of the trail is so craggy, you really have to be aware of every step. I was so proud of myself for not having wiped out at any point (as I was sure I would), but I definitely had a lot of close calls and trips where I was able to catch myself. We made it back to the trailhead at about 2:15pm. Took 2 hours and 15 min. to get up there and 1 hour and 15 min. to get back. Definitely the biggest out and back time difference of any hike I’ve taken yet.
Angel’s Rest is definitely a stunning hike. I would recommend bringing lots of water, esp. if you’re doing this one in summer. And if you have a camera with a panorama feature, bring it. Mine doesn’t, but it’s really the only photograph you can take from the summit that could possibly do the view justice. Angel’s Rest is, undoubtedly, my favorite hike for the views yet.
For directions to the Angel’s Rest trailhead coming either east or west, click here.
Treks Down: 17, Treks to Go: 35