Beautiful year-round and particularly on clear winter days, the Angel’s Rest Trail is deservedly one of the most popular Portland-area hikes. At the climax of this pleasant, forested climb you will enjoy stunning panoramic views that span Portland to the west, basalt colonnades across the Columbia River, Table Mountain to the east, and even the tips of Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens. Glimpses of waterfalls and unique rock formations round out this pleasant outing.

Your excursion begins at the well-marked Angel’s Rest Trailhead. Immediately you will feel lost in mossy forest as the incline gradually increases.

After just 0.5 miles, you will glimpse Coopey Falls through the trees—though you should refer to the note below for a better way to enjoy this lovely cascade. Soon you will parallel bubbling Coopey Creek, and encounter a couple of upper falls, accessible via plentiful spurs branching off of the main trail.

Once you have soaked in the waterfall views, return to the main trail. You will cross a small footbridge and begin to climb in earnest along a series of switchbacks.

Soon you will glimpse your final destination, as the bare, rocky promontory of Angel’s Rest looms out of the trees. After this view, you will continue to switchback uphill. Note how the vegetation and geologic features change as you climb, from thick forest to oaks and basalt formations.

©Jenni Denekas

The most dramatic change occurs about 0.5 miles from the top, where you will emerge into a ghostly landscape of dead trees and unusual rock formations, left bare by a 1991 fire. This area offers stunning vistas of the Gorge—good incentive to continue your climb to the viewpoint atop Angel’s Rest.

As the trail bends into a boulder field, you have two choices: A short scramble to the top (to your left), or a more gradual ascent on a final set of switchbacks (straight ahead). The former is about 200 meters, and the latter is about 0.2 miles.

Regardless of your choice, you will soon find yourself amid a strange, rocky landscape with incredible views that encompass most of the western Gorge, as well as many landmarks to the north and west. Stretch out on a rock, eat your lunch, and soak in the views before retracing your steps downhill.

NOTE: Coopey Falls can also be accessed through the property of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist. Their property is just 300 yards east of the Angel’s Rest trailhead on the right-hand side of the road (the driveway is numbered 48100). The sisters are happy to have visitors; they just ask that you ring the doorbell before you walk through their gardens to the state-owned waterfall. It’s also possible you’ll learn some cool Gorge history if you stop to chat!

©Jenni Denekas

Length: 4.8 miles (round-trip)
Variety: Out-and-back
Elevation gain: 1550 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Season: 4 Seasons
Open to: Hikers, Backpackers, Dogs
Passes/Permits: None
Trail head amenities: Bike Racks (NOTE: There is a bathroom just 0.8 miles west on the Historic Highway, by Brial Veil Falls)
Maps: USGS: Bridal Veil, OR; Green Trails #428S: Columbia Gorge West, OR and #428: Bridal Veil
Directions: I-84 East from Portland: 1. Travel east on I-84. 2. Take Exit 28 for Bridal Veil. 3. Follow the off-ramp to the well-marked parking lot. Overflow parking is available 150 yards east, just off the historic highway on the left.

©Jenni Denekas
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