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Hike of the Month: Gillette Lake

Explore this out-and-back route that connects to the Pacific Crest Trail near Bonneville Dam on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge.

A small, teal-colored lake surrounded by trees with a snowy mountain rising in the background.

Table Mountain (or is that a snow-dusted pyramid?) overlooks Lake Gillette.

Photo by Cambrie Juarez, PDXtoday

Table of Contents

Craving an off-season hike? The Gillette Lake to Greenleaf Overlook trail is a great option if you don’t mind a little mud. You can shorten or extend the route to suit your preference (you can really make it a long one by picking up the Pacific Crest Trail from here), or try our version which easily fits into your weekend plans.

Quick facts

  • Starting point: Bonneville Trailhead
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 6.9 miles
  • Route type: Out-and-back
  • Elevation gain: ~1,165 ft
  • Trail surface: Dirt and rock
  • Wheelchair accessible: No
  • Open: Year-round
  • Dog friendly: Yes, on leash
A dirt trail cuts through a sparsely forested slope with bare and evergreen trees, ferns, and grass.

Keep an eye out for poison oak growing along the trail.

Photo by Cambrie Juarez, PDXtoday

Brief overview

There’s a large parking lot at Bonneville Trailhead with two vault toilets. Pay the $5 parking fee or bring a Northwest Forest Pass. You’ll follow Tamanous Trail for ~0.7 mile (it starts uphill and can be very muddy), then keep left at the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail. You’ll hike beneath dense forest canopy interrupted by clearings and logging roads with views of the Gorge and Table Mountain. Descend to Gillette Lake, which is stocked with trout and home to ducks, beavers, and native Western pond turtles. Continue on, taking a footbridge over a creek, before turning around at Greenleaf Pond.

Young evergreen trees grow in a sloping clearing with views of snowy mountains.

Several clear-cut areas offer good views of the Oregon side of the Gorge.

Photo by Cambrie Juarez, PDXtoday

Why you should try it

Like many trails along the Washington side of the Gorge, this route is ideal for hikers looking for a less trafficked experience without sacrificing many of the area’s popular draws (though there are no waterfalls on this trail). It’s a solid workout but not a constant uphill climb.

Pro tips

Download a map from an app like All Trails. When you’re done hiking and feel delightfully dusted, kick the mud off your boots and drive four minutes to Trailhead Taproom. Order a beer, cider, or hard seltzer on tap and something to eat, then relax on the heated patio — you deserve it.

A wooden footbridge spans a small, rushing creek with mossy rocks in a winter forest.

You have less than a mile to go after crossing the footbridge over Gillette Creek.

Photo by Cambrie Juarez, PDXtoday

Let us know

Did you try this hike? Do you know of one we should check out? Send us your thoughts and recommendations — or check out our other monthly hiking guides.

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