Hiking in Mount Hood National Forest

The Pacific Northwest offers a plethora of outdoor opportunities including fantastic hiking in the Mount Hood National Forest, only twenty miles from Portland, OR.  Nestled between the Willamette River valley and the Columbia River Gorge, it’s no wonder that visitors flock to the over 1 million acres of scenic trails, lakes, and stunning natural beauty.

Although climbing Mt. Hood (11,237 feet) is an option, many visitors opt for less strenuous hikes including popular Mirror Lake, Mountaineer Lake (at famous Timberline Lodge), Little Zigzag Falls, and Ramona Falls Loop.  

Jackpot Meadows is an easy trail that covers about 2 miles in 2 hours – bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the views of the Upper Salmon River.  Mountaineer Trail is another 2 mile/2 hour hiking option that ends in spectacular views (from Silcox Hut) – of the Coast Mountain range, Mt. Jefferson, Broken Top, and Three Sisters.

The heavily used Eagle Creek Trail is a 13.2 mile hike starting at Bonneville Dam (tours available) that includes the perfect Oregon trail experience – meadowlands full of wildflowers, waterfalls, cliffs, camping, and there's even a fish hatchery next to the picnic grounds.

The U.S. Forest Service advises that all hikers heading onto a trail or into backcountry should be equipped with ‘The Ten Essentials’: map; compass; working flashlight; extra food and water; extra clothing; sunglasses; first aid kit; pocket knife; waterproof matches; candle and firestarter.  Additions to this would be a great pair of walking boots, comfortable clothes, binoculars, and a camera.

Camping, rafting, fishing, mountain biking, boating, canoeing, and horseback riding are just some of the other options you’ll find in the Mount Hood National Forest along with several Day Use areas.  Passes & permits (such as the Northwest Forest Pass) may be necessary to access certain areas of the forest; a Day Use Fee is USD $6 per vehicle.

If you’re looking to bike the Mt. Hood Loop in the summer, Cascade Huts offers a 3-night/4-day option that ranges from 135 to 160 miles in length.  Each Cascade Hut sleeps up to 8 people and comes complete with food, water, a propane stove, and lanterns.

For more information, visit Mt. Hood National Forest.

Flickr.com Photo Credits:
Hood by nosha
Timberline Lodge, Mt. Hood by Mulmatsherm

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