Hike of the Month: Vedanta Retreat

Unique wooden shrines, sweeping vistas, and tranquil forest paths blend into this gentle hike that benefits the mind and body.

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The Native People’s Shrine is a massive eagle with wings outstretched, looking toward the valley where some of North America’s earliest Native people lived.

Photo by Cambrie Juarez, PDXtoday

Table of Contents

Editor’s note: This location is intended for thoughtful reflection and contemplation. Please visit responsibly.

In the rolling forested hills outside of Scappoose lies a pathway to inner peace, rejuvenation, and, for some, spiritual healing. While the rewards awaiting those who explore these woods are great, the journey requires nothing other than a pair of sturdy walking shoes and an hour or two of your time.

Quick facts

  • Starting point: 45°42'38.8"N 122°54'47.0"W
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: 2+ miles
  • Route type: Loop with spurs
  • Elevation gain: 337+ ft
  • Trail surface: Gravel (main trail), dirt (side trails)
  • Wheelchair accessible: No
  • Open: Year-round
  • Dog friendly: No
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A clear day reveals views of Mounts Rainier, St. Helens, Adams, and Hood.

Photo by Cambrie Juarez, PDXtoday

Brief overview

Visitors will park near the closed access gate on Northwest Gilkison Road (parking is limited and cars must not block driveways). The main trail is wide and well maintained with signposts along the way marking paths to meditation seats and unique wooden shrines commemorating many world religions. These side paths vary in length and some loop back to the main trail. A panoramic viewpoint lies at the end of the main trail.

A gif showing four different wooden shrines in a forest.

Explore 11 shrines, plus a Japanese torii gate and meditation seats, on the Vedanta Retreat trail.

Photos by Cambrie Juarez, PDXtoday

Why you should try it

Most of the land is owned by the Vedanta Society of Portland, a Hindu organization whose members have invested decades into making the property a haven for native plants and a welcoming place for people from all walks of life. Explore the hushed groves and shrines, rest on a bench overlooking miles of forest, and leave with newfound peace of mind.

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Hills and valleys stretch out as far as the eye can see when facing west.

Photo by Cambrie Juarez, PDXtoday

Pro tips

We veered off the main path to visit most (but not all) of the shrines, so the total length of our hike was just over 3 miles. While the core route can be completed in under an hour, we recommend budgeting about two hours to get the full experience.

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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