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Bunker Hill

Southwest Washington

Location

Southwest Washington -- Columbia River Gorge - WA
View map below

Length

4.4 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 1250 ft.
Highest Point: 2383 ft.

Rating

3.50 out of 5

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
 
 

Getting up Bunker Hill is less of a charge and more of a steady march. The hill, named by early settlers in the valley, used to serve as a fire lookout, and the way to the top is steep and direct. But the fire lookout is gone and the trees have grown up, so with limited views from the summit, it’s better suited to your training regimen than visiting on shore leave. But it’s a great work out, and you can cool down afterwards on the nearby Whistle Punk trail.

In fact, you’ll start from the Whistle Punk trailhead, because there’s far more parking there than the “trailhead” for Bunker Hill. From the Whistle Punk trail, hike back along the road you came in on for 0.2 miles and turn left, passing through an entrance in a fence. The trail (at this point it’s the Pacific Crest Trail) traverses a flat meadow, where you may see elk if you visit in the early morning or evening. This old meadow used to be part of the Wind River Nursery, but is disused now because of ever-dwindling Forest Service budgets.

After crossing the field, you’ll enter lowland forest, where maples and alders shade hikers bound for both Bunker Hill and Canada. 0.3 miles after entering the woods, the trail splits. PCT hikers stay low, but the Bunker Hill-bound should take a deep breath and a swig of water. In the next 1.7 miles, you’re going to gain more than 1200 feet of elevation, and the trail switchbacks just 11 timesthat’s more than 100 feet of elevation gain per switchback!

Luckily, the way up is pretty, climbing through old-growth Douglas-fir with a sparse understory featuring the occasional flower to light your way. The switchbacks wind back and forth across the west-facing flanks of Bunker Hill, occasionally peeping around to the south east side.

At the summit, the only thing to commemorate its former service as a lookout station are four concrete footings, now covered in understory. The view is unremarkable, but better views of the Wind River Valley can be had by carefully traversing across the summit to a viewpoint to the north. There are other view opportunities on your way down, just before the first switchback on your way down. Either way, be careful—the dropoff at the summit is surprisingly steep.

WTA Pro Tip: Even if you don't normally use them, trekking poles or a hiking staff are a good idea to bring on this hike. The steep uphill translates to a knee-punishing grade when you're headed downhill. 

 

Bunker Hill

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 45.8077, -121.9405 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Southwest Washington -- Columbia River Gorge - WA

Bunker Hill (#145)

Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Mount Adams Ranger District

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking - South Cascades (Mountaineers - Romano)

Green Trails 397: Wind River

Getting There

Drive east for three miles on Highway 14 from Stevenson, and turn north (left) onto the Wind River Road. This scenic, paved road passes through the town of Carson about three miles in. Stop here for coffee, snacks, and bathrooms if you need, then continue to Hemlock Road, 8.6 miles from Highway 14.

Drive 1.2 miles on Hemlock Road and immediately past the Wind River Work Center, turn right onto Forest Road 43. This road is unsigned. Continue another 0.7 miles and turn right onto rough Forest Road 417, also unsigned.

Just 01. miles in, pass the Bunker Hill trailhead, just an opening in the fenceline with a PCT blaze. Continue 0.2 miles to the large parking area for the Whistle Punk Trail. There is a privy available here.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
 

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Bunker Hill

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