The spring blossoms are about to explode in the Gorge, which means traffic to get to those scenic views is also going to blow up.
The impending onslaught of hikers has prompted the U.S. Forest Service to release online permits to the highly trafficked Dog Mountain trails on the Washington side of the Columbia, beginning March 1.
Every individual who makes the steep trek up the peak on weekends from April 18 to June 14 will need to carry either a hard copy or digital version of the pass.
This year, 100 permits will be available starting March 1 for each day throughout the season. The U.S. Forest Service also plans on releasing an additional block of 100 permits online three days before each permit date at 7 am. Organizers may make adjustments as the season progresses.
The permit process started in 2018 after the crush of spring wildflower viewers created congestion and at least one deadly accident.
Trailhead parking is $5 and can be paid for on recreation.gov, where you can also buy permits for $1 a person. But the skinny strip of land off SR-14 tends to fill quickly.
Leaving cars on the shoulder is not allowed, so your best bet is the shuttle, which runs about every 30 minutes from the Skamania County Fairgrounds in Stevenson, Wash. Seats are first-come, first-served and cost $2 round-trip—cash only.