Coyote Wall Short Loop Hike
From Portland Hikers Field Guide
- Start point: Coyote Wall Trailhead
- End point: Coyote Wall Trailhead
- Trail Log: Trail Log
- Hike Type: Loop
- Distance: 6.1 miles
- Elevation gain: 1530 feet
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Seasons: Year round
- Family Friendly: No
- Backpackable: No
- Crowded: Not yet
This is an alternative to the Coyote Wall Long Loop Hike. It's shorter and quicker, but it's no easier. In addition, this hike is a bit more exposed. We arbitrarily describe this loop clockwise here (which affords more shade on the way uphill), but of course you can do it counter-clockwise if you want to see the best views on the way up.
This hike begins at the Coyote Wall Trailhead. Start by crossing Courtney Road, go through the blue gate and head east on closed Highway 8. This was the main highway up the Washington side of the Gorge in an earlier era. You'll come to an abandoned cattle chute and a junction with the Coyote Canyon Trail in less than 1/10 mile. Turn left and head up the trail here.
Now the hike turns into a pleasant walk through a pine and oak forest. Initially the trail is routed near a creek and then crosses a seasonal stream twice. There's room here for the mind to wander and you'll notice that the trail was built for bikes instead of feet. There are area where the path loops from side to side in a lazy S, where a hiking path would take a straighter course across the meadow. There's one point where the trail suddenly drops 50 feet, only to rise just as steeply back up. A hiker path could have stayed on the ridge. It's all really more thought provoking than troubling. Most importantly, the trail provides access to a beautiful area to hikers and bikers alike.
There are several viewpoints of Coyote Wall as the trail heads up the hill. There are patches of Grass Widows, Glacier Lilies and Oaks Toothwort in the spring. Watch out for poison oak, if you step off trail. A old cabin has slowly been collapsing and can be seen from the trail at N45° 42.307 - W121° 24.425.
After about two miles, you will have to start searching for the a somewhat hard-to-find junction with the Wizard Trail. If you come to some old cement building foundations, you've gone too far. Once you get on the Wizard Trail, it turns back downhill and parallels the base of the wall at forest edge, crosses a large downed log, enters the boulder field below the wall and then finally brings you up through a gentle gap lined with scrub oak. Switchbacks make the steep climb easy, and you will reach the top of the wall at the Crybaby-Wizard Trail Junction in no time.
Take a right on the trail, heading downhill, and shortly you'll reach the top of the biker's downhill run, marked by a large pine. We've called this the Coyote Wall Upper Viewpoint. Take some time here to eat lunch and relax.
This area is a wild flower heaven early in the season. Look for Grass Widows first, in late February, then a succession of Prairie Stars, Yellow Bells, Poet's Shooting Stars and Camas dot the area. By April the balsamroot will be out, then the lomatium will finally cover the slopes as they turn brown for the rest of the summer. You'll be descending over 1500 feet and the flowers change some with elevation, blooms beginning earlier as you descend.
Continue down the trail as it works its way along the crest of the wall. You'll pass through a fence about half way down, evidence that this was recently private land. Above the fence there is a path that provides an almost arrow straight shot down the mountain. A more hiker-friendly path switches back and forth crossing the downhill run. You'll cross under a set of powerlines and pass through a couple more fences. If you stay to the right, near the edge of the cliffs, you'll pass a memorial for a biker that died in a tragic accident when he accidentally went over the edge of the cliff.
Soon you'll come to another trail. This trail (old 4 wheel drive road) goes east and eventually connects up to the Catherine Creek trail system. There's more information on this trail on the Catherine Creek to Coyote Wall Hike page.
There's a great viewpoint of Coyote Wall about 1/4 mile of the way down. From here, you can look straight down at your car, or farther up the wall behind you.
The trail finally drops you down on the old decaying highway at the trail junction. You'll pass a several boulders that have fallen from the wall on to the roadway. It's pretty obvious why they relocated the highway away from the cliffs! Spots in the wall here are good places to find Pungent Desert Parsley and Prairie Stars early in the season. It's about 0.6 miles back to your car.
Note:This is a fairly new hike in a relatively new addition to the National Forest System. This is an area used primarily by bicyclists. There are places in wilderness-like areas where bicyclists can seem to be out of place to more sedate hikers. Sometimes, the rush and clatter can be intimidating when we're looking for quiet solitude. This is not one of those places. This is an area developed by responsible bikers for bike use. Bikers design and maintain the trails, as well as having a huge involvement in ongoing Forest Service management discussions. Bicycling is the leading form of recreation here and hopefully will remain so in the future. In my experience, the bikers have always been friendly and I've always felt welcome to share their trails in my own, slower, step by step fashion. Hikers are very welcome, but bikers call this home. Be sure to look uphill often.
- Maps: Hike Finder
Regulations or Restrictions, etc.
- No parking permit needed
- Search Trip Reports for Coyote Wall
Related Discussions / Q&A
- Search Trail Q&A for Coyote Wall
Guidebooks that cover this hike
- 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon - 3rd Edition, by William L Sullivan