Laurance Lake High Ridge

Trailhead Location: 45.45792, -121.65705
Parking Fee: No
Location: Oregon
Land type: USFS National Forest
Length: 6.6 mi.
Elevation Gain: 1400 ft.
Highest Point: 4015 ft.
Loop/OnB: Out & Back
Year Round: No
Best Month: 8
Popular: Yes
Waterfall: No
Lake: Yes
Stream: No
View: Yes
Old Growth: No
Backpacking: No
Fishing: Yes 
Bicycles: Yes
Dogs: Yes
Horses: No

The Hike

I hope you like switchbacks because this trail has plenty of them from the start. You'll switch back and forth 19 times before you reach the ridge, at which point the trail becomes and easy stroll. Don't be scared those as the grade of the switchbacks is fairly mellow, you might not even notice your climbing until you reach a stunning view of Laurance Lake with Mt. Hood standing behind.

Once you reach the ridge the forest opens up and if you are hiking in July will encounter various wildflowers. Among them are Pipsissewa, from which tea can be made, and the deep magenta Washington Lillies. The northern range of these lillies is this area around Mt. Hood, not in the state of Washington. The plant was actually named after Martha Washington.

If you are hiking in late July or August take advantage of delicious mid-hike snack: Big Huckleberry. These bushes thrive in forest that have regular wildfires. After a fire moves through an area the huckleberries sprout again and reach peak production in 10-15 years. You'll notice that the bushes thrive along the ridge top in the much more open forest canopy.


Laurence Lake is a reservoir that was created when the Clear Branch Dam was constructed in 1968 with a planned lifespan of 50 years. When full the lake covers 130 acres and provides water to over 6,300 acres of farmland in the upper Hood River Valley. The dam was constructed without a fish passage, isolating the native bull trout and inundating some of their spawning habitat along with very productive Coho and Steelhead spawning habitat. A fish trap has been installed below the dam to allow fish to be transported above the dam, however it has generally been of little help. Recently in 2018 some temporary repair work was done on the dam and currently (in 2020) a project to completely rehab the dam is in development.