Foggy Flat, Killen Creek and High Camp
Bird Creek Meadows
Cairn Basin and Elk Cove
Serene Lake Loop
Big Slide Lake
Jefferson Park via South Breitenbush
At last we’ve reached the cream of the crop of hiking in our area. It doesn’t get any better than this - and there’s no excuse to go hiking anywhere else at this time of year. In August, look for hikes that take you high up into the mountains. Sometimes this involves longer drives than many hikers would like - while up until this point I’ve made every effort to keep hikes under 2 hours drive from Portland, some of the hikes listed are well more than that. There is reason to this! To me, August is the time to expand your horizons, to travel far and wide to hike the best there is to offer in the area. What follows here are my ten favorite August hikes in the region, at least within a reasonable 3 hours or so of Portland. All ten of these hikes are backpackable, with many excellent campsites and secluded spots (some more than others, of course).
All of these hikes involve traveling high on mountain peaks, passing meadows or volcanic
highlands, to spectacular vistas of the Cascades. Many of these hikes are very popular, some more than others. Expect crowds on weekends, even on weekdays. Please respect these fragile environments by staying on the main trail, packing out all garbage, using responsible wilderness bathroom protocols, and by camping only in designated spots and not on fragile wilderness meadows. In other words, Leave No Trace ethics are of vital importance here. As the saying goes: take only pictures and leave only footprints.
August weather is perhaps the most predictable of the year. Up in the high country expect warm, sunny days but cool, crisp nights. Thunderstorms are common in the Cascades this time of year and you should always be prepared for them. Avoid high ridges (at least half of these hikes) during thunderstorms, and be prepared to turn around quickly when you hear thunder or see lightning. This is fire season too - keep an eye out for fires when hiking. DO NOT build campfires - they are unnecessary, and risk getting out of control quickly.
It doesn’t take much. Regardless, you should always be prepared for any kind of weather when traveling in the mountains in August. Cold nights are very common. As always, practice vigilance by bringing the Ten Essentials and by leaving a plan of your travels with a friend or family member.