Wondering where to go for your next outdoor adventure? If you’re visiting Oregon and want to get a dose of nature’s breathtaking beauty, the best sunrise hikes in Oregon are calling your name!
Catching a sunrise hike is one of the most peaceful, therapeutic ways to start the day and a perfect way to connect with nature and go within. And, what better place to do it than being surrounded by Oregon’s amazing landscapes and national parks?
From the coastal shoreline to the mountains, there are lots of great places to watch the sun rise in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
Whether you’re an experienced hiker, a total newbie, or someone who simply enjoys a quiet morning walk where you can catch the sunrise, these 16 best hikes in Oregon make it a perfect start to the day.
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Oregon boasts an array of gorgeous views, making it an ideal place to experience a sunrise trek. Here are some of the best spots to catch a breathtaking view in Portland and Central Oregon.
Cannon Beach Trail
Cannon Beach Trail is a scenic hiking trail located in Cannon Beach, Oregon, in the United States. This easy trail is about 2.8 miles long and offers amazing views of the Pacific Ocean, Haystack Rock, the surrounding wilderness, and the coastline making it a perfect sunrise hike and morning walk.
It’s also a great place for taking pictures and whale watching during the migration season.
Mirror Lake Trailhead
This 5-mile out-and-back hike is located in Mt Hood National Forest — a beautiful place for a sunrise hike, if you love the outdoors.
This popular hiking spot is located in the Mount Hood National Forest and offers a challenging hike with views of snow-capped mountain peaks and nature sightings along the way. A great hike for the nature adventurer!
The trail is relatively short (about 2.4 miles round trip) and offers beautiful views of the Rocky Butte Lookout Tower and Mount Defiance Summit as the sun begins to rise.
The best time to hike at sunrise is typically in the summer months when the days are longer, and the sunrise occurs earlier in the day. Keep in mind that during the winter months, the trail may be covered in snow and ice, which can make it a more challenging trek.
Smith Rock State Park
Smith Rock State Park in Oregon is a beautiful destination for a sunrise hike.
The park is located near Bend, Oregon, and features stunning rock formations and panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
The Misery Ridge Trail is a popular route for sunrise hikes and offers a challenging but rewarding ascent to the top of the ridge. From there, you can enjoy the sunrise over the park and the distant mountains.
The trail is approximately 3 miles round trip and is rated a moderate to difficult hike.
Tom McCall Point
Oregon is home to many beautiful hikes, but one of the most popular is probably the Tom McCall Point hike in the Columbia River Gorge. The sunrise over the gorge is absolutely breathtaking!
This approximately 3-mile roundtrip hike is particularly popular during the wildflower season in late spring when the hillsides are blanketed with vibrant colors.
Portland Women’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint
Located in the Columbia River Gorge, the Portland Women’s Forum State Scenic viewpoint offers sweeping views of the gorge and surrounding mountains, which is typically a sight to see during sunrise.
The hike to the viewpoint is relatively short (less than a mile), but it is steep and includes some switchbacks, so it can be challenging in places. Nonetheless, it’s a great hike with some pretty awesome views at the top.
This is a moderate hiking trail with some steepness and rockiness along the way so a good pair of hiking shoes is essential.
Once you reach the viewpoint area, you’ll find some incredible views of the gorge and surrounding mountains.
It gets pretty crowded during peak season between April and May when people flock to see the wildflowers in spring so if you want to avoid the crowds and catch a peaceful sunrise, be sure to arrive first thing!
Broken Top Trail to No Name Lake
The Broken Top path to No Name Lake is one of the best hikes in Central Oregon offering amazing views of Broken Top Mountain, as well as several alpine lakes.
The trail is approximately 8.6 miles round trip, with a moderate to strenuous level of difficulty due to the elevation gain and rocky terrain.
Hiking this picturesque trail at sunrise can be breathtaking in the morning as the sunlight shines through with its beautiful display of colors, creating a peaceful and perfect start to the day
The Maxwell Lake Trailhead near Lostine, Oregon is a great place to explore and experience a sunrise hike, as it offers sweeping views of the surrounding Wallowa Mountains and the Eagle Cap Wilderness.
The trail begins at Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and offers a moderate 6.8-mile round-trip trek with panoramic mountain views, meadows, varying terrain, and wooded landscapes that make it a diverse and enjoyable hiking experience.
Plan your visit during the drier months, July through October, to avoid the heavy rainfalls and make the most of your trip.
Tumalo Mountain near Bend, Oregon is a great place for a beautiful and scenic sunrise trek. The trailhead is located near the Mount Bachelor ski area and offers hikers a moderate 4.5-mile round trip that leads you to the top of Tumalo Mountain where you’ll find the most majestic waterfall views and sunrise hues.
Throughout the trail, you can expect rugged terrain, wilderness, and open meadows allowing hikers to explore and experience the diverse beauty of the Central Oregon trail-scape.
Hiking Tumalo Mountain is popular during the summer months, but it can also be enjoyed throughout winter with activities like snowshoeing or skiing.
The Tumalo Falls are a sight to see!
Trillium Lake is 60 miles from Portland and offers a relatively easy 2-mile round trip trek, offering beautiful views of Mount Hood National Forest.
Hiking to Trillium Lake during sunrise can provide a stunning experience, with the early morning light reflecting off the lake and reflecting off the Mount Hood peak.
The trail has an easy to moderate ascent, allowing for more time to connect with nature and enjoy the peaceful and scenic sunrise trek.
The best times to visit are June through October.
Powell Butte Nature Park
Image Credit: Portland.gov
Located inland, about two hours from the Oregon coastline, sits Powell Butte Nature Park – an extinct cinder cone volcano and unique hidden gem that makes for a perfect setting at sunrise. It’s one of Oregon’s best hikes and best-kept secrets!
The park offers a 5.9-mile trail loop with a variety of moderate to challenging trails, and stunning views of Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, and downtown Portland.
Image Credit: stateparks.oregon.gov
Saddle Mountain is located 113 miles northwest of Portland and offers spectacular 180-degree panoramas of Saddle Mountain’s 1,033-foot peak. Although steep at times, this 2.5-mile walk offers breathtaking views of the soaring Blue Mountains of the Pacific Ocean and Mount Rainier.
The start of the trail is easily accessible offering a 5.2-mile challenging round-trip hike with amazing sunrise views of the surrounding coast and mountains making it a perfect way to connect with nature.
The Multnomah Falls Trail is a popular hiking trail located on the Oregon and Washington border in the Columbia River Gorge.
The trail is known for its breathtaking views of the largest, most iconic waterfall in the Pacific Northwest making it a beautiful place to watch the sunrise!
The trail itself is approximately 2.6 miles round trip and is rated as moderate on the difficulty scale. The trail starts at the Multnomah Falls Lodge and climbs up through the lush forests before reaching the top of the falls.
On the way up, hikers can take walk over Benson Bridge located above the lower Multnomah falls for a photo opp with a picturesque view of the falls as the backdrop.
The Trail is open year-round but tends to get busy during summer so be sure to get there first thing to beat the crowds and start your trek early.
Natural Bridges Viewpoint Trail
The Natural Bridges Viewpoint Trail is located in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness, just east of Bend, Oregon.
The trail is about 1.5 miles round trip making it a short and easy walk or hike for hikers of all skill levels. Dogs are also welcome to join you but must be on a leash to walk the trail.
The trail offers breathtaking views of the Natural Bridges, which are ancient lava tube tunnels that have collapsed and formed arches – a perfect backdrop for the sunrise.
The trail is accessible year-round and is a great option for a quick and easy sunrise hike in Central Oregon.
Paulina Peak Trail
The Paulina Peak Trail is located in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument and offers stunning views of the surrounding volcanic landscape and the Cascade Mountains.
Paulina Peak is approximately 3.5 miles round trip, with an elevation gain of about 1,300 feet.
From the parking area, the trail climbs steadily through the forest, with occasional rocky sections and switchbacks.
As you hike higher, the forest begins to thin out, and you’ll start to see the amazing park views. The last half-mile or so of the trail is above the tree line, and the views become even more expansive.
When you reach the top, you’ll find a fire lookout tower and viewpoint where you can enjoy beautiful 360-degree views.
Make sure you wear warm comfortable clothing and layer up. It gets cold in the morning!
Green Lakes/Soda Creek Trail
Image Credit: Recreation.gov
The Green Lakes trails also known as Soda Creek Trails, are one of the best hikes in Oregon to watch the sunrise, depending on the time of year. The trail is located in the Three Sisters Wilderness area and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, forests, and waterfalls.
This hike is a bit longer than most stretching around 9.4 miles but once you reach the viewpoint at the top, the views are amazing! Just make sure you give yourself plenty of time to reach the viewpoint area before the sun rises so you don’t miss out.
The trails are typically only accessible from late spring to early fall.
Tom, Dick & Harry Mountain Trail
Image Credit: Hiking Project
The Tom, Dick & Harry Mountain Trail is a popular hike for watching the sunrise in the Portland, Oregon area. Especially during the summer months.
The trail is located in the Mount Hood National Forest, about an hour’s drive from Portland near the government camp, and offers stunning views of Mount Hood, Trillium Lake, and the surrounding forests.
It’ll take approximately 4.6 miles round trip to finish the loop. While a bit challenging, it’s still a hike worth going on for the incredible views at the summit during sunrise.
The trailhead is located near the Mirror Lake Trailhead parking lot. Parking is limited, so be sure to arrive first thing in the morning.
What to Pack for a Sunrise Hike
Packing for a sunrise hike requires a bit of planning to ensure you have everything you need for comfort and safety. Here are some essential items to consider packing:
Warm Clothing: The temperature can be chilly in the early morning, even in the summer, so be sure to pack layers, including a warm jacket or fleece, hat, and gloves.
Headlamp or Flashlight: It may still be dark when you start your hike, so a headlamp or flashlight is essential for navigating the trail.
Water and Snacks: Even on a shorter hike, it’s important to stay hydrated and fueled with snacks to keep up your energy levels.
First Aid Kit: Always bring a basic first aid kit with bandages, antiseptic, and any personal medications you may need.
Map and Compass: It’s important to know the trail and have a map and waterproof compass handy in case you get lost or need to navigate an alternate route.
Sunscreen and Sunglasses: Even though it’s early, the sun can still be strong, so protect your skin and eyes with sunscreen and sunglasses.
Camera: Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the beautiful sunrise and the stunning views along the trail.
Overall, packing for a sunrise hike is all about being prepared for unexpected weather conditions as well as being comfortable and safe during your hike.
Be sure to check the weather and trail conditions before heading out and adjust your packing list accordingly.
FAQs in Relation to Best Sunrise Hikes Oregon
What is the Best Hike in Oregon?
It’s a tough question because Oregon has some great trail systems. Personally, I like hiking in the mountains. Also, popular hikes include Paulina Peak, Sheriff Point, and Misery Ridge.
What time is best for a sunrise hike?
The best time for a sunrise hike depends on the season and your preferred hiking location. In the summertime, most areas suggest starting your trek around 4:30-5:00 am for optimum viewing.
During the winter months, the ideal start time for a sunrise hike may be as late as 6:00 am or later depending on the destination. Prior to your hike, be sure to check the local weather so you can optimize your experience.
Where can you see the sunrise in Oregon?
The Oregon Coast offers some of the most beautiful sunrises in the country. From Bandon to Cannon Beach, you can find stunning views as the sun rises over the Pacific Ocean.
Astoria and Tillamook are great spots for watching the sunrise from atop a lighthouse or cliffside viewpoint.
If you head further inland, Crater Lake National Park is known for its breathtaking morning sunrise that lights up Wizard Island with orange hues. To experience a truly unique sunrise, head east towards John Day Fossil Beds Monument where you will experience incredible colors on Painted Hills and Sheep Rock formations at the break of dawn.
Where can I watch the sunrise in Portland Oregon?
One of the best places to watch the sunrise in Portland, Oregon is Council Crest Park. This park is the highest point in Portland and offers 360-degree views of the city and surrounding mountains.
With plenty of parking and trails that wind through a forested landscape, it’s an ideal spot for watching both sunrises and sunsets. Plus, there are plenty of benches to sit and relax while taking in the views.
Here are some other suggestions –
Pittock Mansion: This historic mansion sits atop a hill in Portland’s West Hills and offers panoramic views of the city and surrounding mountains.
Mount Tabor: This park is located on an extinct volcano and offers stunning views of both the sunrise and the city below.
Eastbank Esplanade: This walking and biking path along the east bank of the Willamette River provides a great viewpoint for watching the sunrise over the water.
Powell Butte Nature Park: This park is located on the east side of Portland and offers incredible sunrise views with Mount Hood and other cascading mountains at a distance.
Tom McCall Waterfront Park is a popular spot for sunrise seekers that stretches along the Willamette River. This park offers amazing views of the city skyline and sunrise over the water.
The Park is also dog-friendly and a great place for a quick morning hike with your fur baby. While the scenery here is more urban than in other larger parks, the waterfront views are still amazing.
Plus, it’s conveniently located in the heart of downtown Portland, making it conveniently located and well centralized for visitors staying in the city area.
Where Can I Watch the Sunrise in the Columbia River Gorge?
There are many places to watch the sunrise in the Columbia Gorge on both the Washington and Oregon sides. A few favorites include Angel’s Rest, Dog Mountain, Coyote Wall, Sherrard Point, and Hamilton Mountain.
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