Mt. Hood Adventure Loop

Mt. Hood Adventure Loop

I talk to a lot of people about adventuring. Since I take a lot of pictures and am out in nature as frequently as I can manage (and I make friends/talk to people wherever I go), I have some “go-to” adventure days that I recommend to people. This Mt. Hood Loop day is one of them. It’s a great option for people who are new to town or visiting as it provides multiple views of one of our greatest treasures: Mt. Hood. To cap it off, it drops you down into the Columbia River Gorge (another jewel we share with the great state of Washington), so you’re hitting 2 of the 7 Wonders of Oregon in a single day!

I usually start my day up at Jonsrud Viewpoint at sunrise.

I recognize that most people aren’t sunrise people, so I usually tell people it’s an easy and beautiful stop off on their way up Mt. Hood. There’s no hike, just park your car and look out over the gorgeous Sandy River Valley with Mt. Hood framed beautifully in the background.

From there, I like to stop at Trillium Lake.

I know a lot of people choose to do Mirror Lake, but I find the view at Trillium to be even better and I can save my hiking energy for other hikes that day. If you visit on a hot day, you’ll see people doing any number of water activities here.

There’s a really nice path that loops around the lake and is just shy of 2 miles in length. It’s really easy and very popular, so it’s pretty crowded on the weekends. But, if you hit it on a weekday morning, it’s pretty peaceful and the perfect “hike” to take kids on!

Also, if you’re feeling like you need a bit more than what Jonsrud can offer you, sunrises here are phenomenal.

*Note there is a $5 parking fee (cash drop box at location – or purchase online here) or use a NW Forest Pass ($30/year, available at REI and these locations)

From here, take Hwy 35 toward Hood River.

It’s a beautiful drive offering more stunning views of Mt. Hood.

Not everyone is a big hiker, but if you’re looking for a relatively easy hike with a gorgeous payoff at the end, I recommend the Tamanawas Falls hike on the back side of Mt. Hood just off Hwy. 35.

It’s 3.4 miles out and back with very little elevation gain. This last winter there was a rock slide, so you’ll have to climb over some large rocks – but we didn’t have any problem doing that a couple weeks ago. We saw multiple families on the hike as well as several dogs.

*Note there is a $5 parking fee (cash drop box at location – or purchase online here) or use a NW Forest Pass ($30/year, available at REI and these locations)

I usually bring a picnic lunch and eat down in front of the falls. You may have to wade through a bit of water (several of my friends were able to make it without getting their shoes wet), so be prepared for that. I hike in chacos specifically so I don’t have to worry about simply walking through the water.

After lunch, hike back the same trail, hop in your car and continue on toward Hood River.

As you’re driving through the Parkdale area, make sure you check out the view behind you.

You can stop to take a picture here, but the next place is much more photogenic without the risk of getting hit by passing vehicles (seriously – don’t run out into traffic).

Panorama Point is easily missed by many people. It’s not on the main road, and if you don’t know about it there is only one sign in each direction that you may not see. Plus, the actual turnoff onto Panorama Point can be confusing to locate due to lack of signage. This link will give the coordinates in google maps for you to follow.

The valley is lush and the view is spectacular.

This is your last truly spectacular view of Mt. Hood for the day, so take advantage of it by snapping a few photos!

If you’re purveyors of alcohol, there are some fantastic wineries in this area. Hoodcrest Winery has great wine and pizza if you’re hungry and is a bit outside town. If you’re in town, I recommend Stoltz Winery. They have some nice options for tasting and friendly staff. (If you have time, I recommend the wine in the Dundee/Newberg area for a later day)

If you’re more of a Portland microbrew lover, Pfriem always has great beers on tap. As an added bonus, they are just across the street from the Hood River Waterfront Park, so you can grab a beer, a bite, and then take a stroll along the Columbia River.

Ensure you are not impaired, hop back into your car, and head West on I-84 toward Portland.

If you’re tired (which would be fully understandable), feel free to end your journey here and head home. However, if you’re up for a bit more adventure, you have plenty of options in the Columbia River Gorge.

You can choose to take the Old Columbia River Highway. I usually refer to it as “Waterfall Way” as there are numerous waterfalls that can easily be seen from the road and even more that can be hiked to with minimal effort. You can make stops at Horsetail Falls (and continue up a relatively easy hike to Ponytail Falls), Wahkeena Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Latourell Falls. Be aware that on the weekends, this road is absolutely packed and there will be significant amounts of traffic from mid-morning until early-evening.

If you’re feeling like you want to see one more thing, but don’t want to hike at all, Multnomah Falls is for you. There is an easy pull off (from the left lane) on I-84, and you’ll get to see another of our greatest gems.

Just before sunrise in the fall.

Once you’ve had your fill (can you ever really have your fill of Multnomah Falls, though?), head back to the Portland area to complete your loop!

Congratulations! You’ve completed a full day of adventuring and seen some of the greatest that our great state has to offer!

If you’re looking for a guide and someone to photograph you and your family/friends as you take this adventure, feel free to reach out to me and see if we can work something out!

Leave a Reply