Devils Rest Loop via Palmer Mill Road
The lollipop loop from Angels Rest to Devils Rest offers a diverse range of experiences in the western end of the Columbia River Gorge. Angels Rest provides breathtaking views from its exposed promontory, while Devils Rest, situated higher than Angels Rest, lacks views from its mossy rock summit but offers commanding vistas from nearby clifftops. Both destinations are part of the Boring Lava Field, a relatively young volcanic area compared to the ancient Columbia River Basalt flows. The loop takes you through areas affected by recent fires, including the 1991 Multnomah Falls Fire and the more extensive 2017 Eagle Creek Fire.
The hike begins at the Bridal Veil intersection on the Historic Columbia River Highway, where two parking areas are available. The trails merge above the lower parking area, leading you through a forested slope with scorched marks from the 2017 fire on the bases of large Douglas-firs. The trail passes through diverse vegetation such as vine maple, thimbleberry, sword fern, and occasional patches of poison oak. Along the way, you'll encounter stunning viewpoints, waterfalls like Coopey Falls, and the gushing Wahkeena Spring.
As you ascend, the landscape becomes brushier due to the fires, but the views become more open, showcasing the cliffs of Angels Rest, Larch Mountain, and Silver Star Mountain. Upon reaching the crest of the Angels Rest promontory, you can scramble among layered pillars of platy andesite to enjoy views of the Columbia River, downtown Portland, and the surrounding mountains. After retracing your steps along the ridge crest, you'll continue on the Angels Rest Trail, passing by Foxglove Way and descending through a fast-recovering area with lush vegetation, including old-growth Douglas-fir, hemlock, and western red-cedar groves.
The trail then leads you to the junction for Devils Rest, where you'll embark on the Devils Rest Trail. The trail takes you through Shady Creek, offering views of Devils Rest and the cliff faces below. You'll cross footbridges, hike through forests dominated by western hemlocks, and encounter springs and viewpoints along the way. After reaching the largely unburned summit of Devils Rest, the trail descends to the junction below, where you can choose to complete the loop by continuing on the new Red Shorts Cut and Smith Road. The trail passes through different forest landscapes, including open areas and dense thickets, before leading you back to the Angels Rest Trail, where you descend under alders and Douglas-firs, passing through the Eagle Creek Burn area. Finally, you'll return to your vehicle at the Angels Rest Trail-Foxglove Way Junction.
Overall, this loop hike offers a combination of stunning viewpoints, waterfalls, diverse vegetation, and the chance to witness the effects of recent fires, making it a rewarding and memorable outing in the Columbia River Gorge.
From Portland, drive east on I-84 to Exit 28 for Bridal Veil.
Go 0.4 miles after exiting the freeway, and make a sharp right turn on the Historic Highway at the Angels Rest Trailhead. If this parking area is full, drive a little farther west, and turn left into the second parking area for the Angels Rest Trail.
From the east:
From westbound I-84, take Ainsworth State Park Exit #35 and follow the Historic Columbia River Highway for 7.1 miles (11.4 km).
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