Mount Hood is a glacier-capped, dormant volcano located 70 miles east of Portland, OR. With numerous alpine lakes, hundreds of ski trails, and the grand 1930s-era Timberline Lodge, this is an accessible paradise for outdoor adventure. Countless trails are found throughout Mount Hood National Forest, which encompasses more than 1,000,000 acres. Ranging from easy nature walks to multi-day wilderness journeys, hiking is one of the top attractions here. When snow covers the ground, visitors can choose from downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, or tubing. Because this national forest also includes a portion of the Oregon Trail, it's a great place to learn about the state's history as well as appreciate its natural beauty.
This popular trail provides inspiring views of the mountain, bird watching opportunities, and easy terrain to make it fun for everyone. With a combination of compacted rock surface and boardwalk, this trail is a good choice for families with strollers or people with mobility issues.
Length: 1.9 miles
This out-and-back trail takes hikers along the rushing Salmon River through an impressive old-growth forest. Although it stays close to the road, the sound of the river and the dense vegetation make hikers feel like they are deep in the forest.
Length: 2.7 miles
Located on Mount Hood's eastern slope, this trail parallels Cold Spring Creek. Visitors on a hot summer day can take advantage of the refreshing water. The trail ends at impressive Tamanawas Falls, which is 40 feet wide and 100 feet high. Along the way, the trail is shaded by towering cedars and Douglas fir.
Length: 3.4 miles
Mirror Lake is classified as a glacial cirque lake. There are steep slopes to the south and southwest of the lake, creating the glacier cirque headwall. Gorgeous views of Mount Hood make this a popular hike with many visitors. The trail is wide and gains 460 feet at a moderate pace in the beginning, then it narrows and flattens at the lake. It's possible to hike beyond the lake to Tom, Dick, and Harry Ridge, which adds to the difficulty of the trek.
Length: 4.2 miles
From the summit of Lost Lake Butte, hikers get a spectacular view of Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier, Mount Jefferson, and Mount Hood all at once. The trail starts in the Lost Lake Campground and climbs moderately through heavy forest. A steep series of switchbacks ascend the last three-quarters of a mile to the summit of the ridge.
Length: 3.7 miles
If you want to learn about the trees and other plant life on the mountain, head to the interpretive site at the Timberline Lodge and Ski Area. This National Historic Landmark is visited by 2 million people each year. It's also a great spot to learn about the people who have lived in Mount Hood's shadow for centuries. If you want to know more about the history of Mount Hood, then visit the Mt. Hood Cultural Center & Museum. This World Heritage Ski Museum is a must-see for any snow-sport enthusiast with its varied collections. Exhibits include a biography of the mountain, a gallery of early trailblazers, and artifacts that depict the evolution of skiing.
Another popular destination with families in the winter and summer is Mount Hood SkiBowl. Summer attractions include an alpine slide, mountain bike park, the sky chair, zipline tours, bungee jumping, and go-karts. Skiing, snowboarding, tubing, and snowmobiling take over when snow covers the ground. Fees are associated with all activities.
With its numerous lakes and streams, Mount Hood National Forest is a favorite destination with anglers. For river and stream fishing, head to Lost Creek or Salmon River. They are both great for catching rainbow trout.
For great stargazing at night, head to the High Rocks area, which is near Linney Creek southwest of the mountain. While you'll need an off-road vehicle to get to this viewpoint, it's a perfect spot to see shooting stars and constellations.
Address: Zigzag Ranger District Headquarters 70220 E. Highway 26, Zigzag, OR 97049
Fee: Entry fee Additional fees may be associated with activities within the park.
Mount Hood National Forest is a four-season destination that caters to skiers and snowboarders in the winter and hikers in the summer. With dozens of campgrounds available, an RV trip is a great way to explore this national forest. If you do not own an RV, you can rent one via RVshare in a city close to the national forest.