Explore Mt. Hood and Columbia River Gorge
Oregon’s tallest mountain? That’s Mt. Hood—surrounded by six ski areas, surprise waterfall hikes, and plenty of rivers, lakes, and streams to play in. Just east of Portland, the region of Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge brings a range of outdoor adventures for every season: hike, bike, ski, fish, whatever floats your boat—and you can do that too! We recommend going with local expert guides for the best experience and no stress in planning and getting the gear. For more inspiration check out the latest “Oregon, Only Slightly Exaggerated” film to glimpse the view from Old Baldy Trail. Go ahead: Gorge yourself on these diverse itineraries.
It's Pouring Waterfalls!
With over 90 waterfalls, the Columbia River Gorge has no shortage of waterfall excursions. Multnomah Falls is the tallest in the Columbia River Gorge, tumbling a staggering 620 feet. Often seen as the poster-falls on social media, the very photogenic Benson Bridge spans the lower falls. Fall and winter are ideal for visiting because there are fewer people (still, go early or on a weekday for the best chance of a less busy experience). For the best experience, book a guided tour with a local expert like America’s Hub World Tours, which stops at the falls as well as other top viewpoints and attractions. Multnomah Falls is located on the Historic Columbia River Highway, along what’s known as the “Waterfall Corridor.” Nearby less-crowded alternatives include the 2.4-mile (round-trip) to Wahclella Falls, the 4.4-mile out-and-back hike to Dry Creek Falls, and the 1.4-mile out-and-back to Bridal Veil Falls. Other beautiful sites await just east, like the Bonneville Lock and Dam and the car-free Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail. Walk or cycle two favorite segments: the Wyeth Trailhead to Lindsey Creek and the Twin Tunnels Trail, which ends in Mosier. From there, go discover the wineries, U-picks, and farm-to-table treats on the East Gorge Food Trail.
TIP: Reserve ahead to dine at the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge Restaurant.
Mt. Hood Magical
Portland’s most famous natural backdrop rises in snowy grace: Mt. Hood is the tallest mountain in Oregon at 11,240 feet and is an active volcano. Not to worry, the only thing likely to erupt on your visit is a whole lot of outdoor adventures. Just an hour from Portland, Mt. Hood is filled with surprises beyond the amazing alpine wildflowers, waterfalls, and wonderful views. There’s a magical old-growth forest here too, accessible year-round and the stuff of storybooks with moss cascading down massive red cedars, bright green ferns festooning surrounding paths, and the option of a 4-mile (round-trip) hike along the Salmon River for some forest bathing. See top hikes at Mt. Hood. In winter you can ski or snowboard the slopes at Mt. Hood Meadows, Timberline Lodge, or Mt. Hood Skibowl. You can skip the driving and parking hassle with a car-free trip to Mt. Hood. More ways to have fun: Book a tour—including sleigh rides—through a guide like Mt. Hood Outfitters.
BONUS: Timberline Lodge in Mt. Hood National Forest may be known as the hotel used for exterior footage in the Stanley Kubrick film The Shining. But as a National Historic Landmark, its history runs longer than its movie-star status: The ski lodge will celebrate its 85th anniversary in 2022. Revered for its design, including the stone and wood craftsmanship, Timberline Lodge represents some of the finest wood carving and iron work of a bygone era.
Timberline Lodge photo by @kenjisugahara.
E-Bike or Drive the Famous Fruit Loop
Oregon is a land of scenic drives, and if you’re going to do just one in the Hood River Valley, make it the 35-mile Fruit Loop. From forest to farmland you’ll pass through beautiful valley orchards filled with specialty stands serving up in-season fruits, vegetables, and other tasty treats. Sip on cider while watching alpacas roam, and stop at the welcoming communities who produce the delights of the region. Many wineries are open year-round. Stay at an inn on the Columbia River shoreline, a historic B&B, or at a rustic mountain resort in the Mt. Hood National Forest.
BONUS E-BIKE ADVENTURES: Or go with the local expert guides on an e-bike adventure in the region. With Mt. Hood as your backdrop, you’ll ride through the region, enjoying seasonal U-picks, farm-stands, wineries, and meals. Book an e-bike tour at MountNBarrel for a guided experience through the Fruit Loop. You can also rent an e-bike at Ebike Multnomah Falls. It’s located 5 miles west of Multnomah Falls along the Historic Columbia River Highway. Guests can park for free at the rental location, then hop on the e-bike and pedal 15 minutes to the falls.
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