Mount Hood Hikes: Our Picks For The 10 Best For 2022

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Written By John @ The Portlandist

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Whether you’re an Oregon native or visiting for the first time, the majestic cap of Mount Hood is easily the most iconic landmark in the Beaver State. Visible from hundreds of miles away on a clear day, this 11,240-foot volcanic peak is surrounded by dozens of dazzling hiking trails that include spectacular views of the mountain as well as thundering waterfalls, pristine lakes, lush forests, and lovely wildflowers.

Though Mount Hood is technically an active volcano, you don’t need to worry about your physical safety while visiting the area. The last significant eruption took place during the Revolutionary War, and just a handful of minor eruptions—mostly consisting of steam bursting from its crater—have occurred over the past two centuries. In fact, the rich volcanic ash has been undisturbed enough to permit the growth of flourishing fields of alpine wildflowers and sturdy stands of whitebark pine at the mountain’s timberline.

To help you decide which destinations to tackle first, we’ve identified the 10 best Mount Hood hikes. From relatively flat, family-friendly strolls to rugged, challenging climbs, there’s a trail to suit trekkers of all abilities and experience levels in our list below.

The 10 Best Mount Hood Hikes

Below are our picks for the top 10 best hikes in the Mount Hood area. To snap directly to a specific location, please click the corresponding link in the list below.

  1. Bald Mountain from Top Spur
  2. Cooper Spur
  3. Mirror Lake Trail
  4. Trillium Lake Loop
  5. Lost Lake Loop
  6. Timberline Lodge to Zigzag Canyon
  7. Tamanawas Falls
  8. Castle Canyon Trail
  9. Old Salmon River Trail
  10. Ramona Falls

10. Bald Mountain from Top Spur

Mount Hood Hikes Info: Out and Back | 2 Miles | 550 ft Elevation Gain

How to get here: From Sandy, take U.S. 26 east to Zigzag. Head north on Lolo Pass Road for 10.6 miles, then turn right onto Road 1825, which will turn into Road 1828. Continue for 3 miles to Road 118, a gravel road veering to the left. Follow this road for 1.6 miles until you reach Top Spur Trailhead.

This route starts at the popular Top Spur Trailhead, but don’t be dismayed by the crowds, which will quickly thin out along the route to the top of Bald Mountain. You’ll journey through well-established stretches of noble fir for a half-mile before merging with the Pacific Crest Trail.

At the junction of the Pacific Crest and Timberline trails, take the southbound segment of the Timberline Trail toward Muddy Fork. After about a quarter-mile, you’ll take the unsigned trail to the left, a rugged path that leads up Bald Mountain.

As you near the summit, you’ll see a break in the trees and a stack of concrete blocks marking the former location of a Depression-era fire tower. Once you pass through a thick stand of mountain ash and alder trees, the trail ends at an overlook featuring breathtaking views of the Muddy Fork valley and the western flank of Mount Hood.

More Mount Hood Hikes information: More hikes in the Mount Hood National Forest


9. Cooper Spur

Mount Hood Hikes Info: Out and Back | 6.8 Miles | 2,660 ft Elevation Gain

How to get here: Take Highway 35 to the Cooper Spur Ski Area exit between mile markers 73 and 74. Head west on Cooper Spur Road for 2.3 miles to Cooper Spur Junction, then take a left on Cloud Cap Road. After about 1.5 miles, continue on the gravel pavement for another 8 miles. Turn right at the T-shaped intersection and the trailhead will be on the right in about half a mile. If you don’t have a Northwest Forest pass, you’ll need to pay a $5 usage fee.

This challenging trail takes hikers almost 4 miles along steep switchbacks to Tie-In Rock, where experienced climbers can attach their ropes to reach the summit. The views from Tie-In are impressive, with Mount Rainier and the Three Sisters often visible along the horizon, as well as glimpses of the menacing Eliot Glacier below.

If the nearly 2,700-foot elevation gain sounds too daunting, you can opt for the gentler 1.3-mile trek along Cooper Spur to an ancient stone shelter that still offers solid views of the glacier.

More Mount Hood Hikes information: More hikes in the Mount Hood National Forest


8. Mirror Lake Trail

Mount Hood Hikes Info: Loop | 4.2 Miles | 672 ft Elevation Gain

How to get here: From Portland, take U.S. 26 just over 27 miles east of Sandy. The entrance to the Skibowl West/Mirror Lake Trailhead parking area will be on your right.

From the parking area, this gentle, family-friendly trail winds through meadows and across wooden footbridges through the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness Area. After about two miles, hikers will arrive at Mirror Lake, which offers a variety of water sports and other recreational opportunities as well as a .4-mile loop around the lake.

Ambitious hikers may continue 1.8 miles along the Tom Dick and Harry Ridge, which is much narrower and more rugged than the previous section. Its final 200 yards consist of a steeply pitched, rocky path to the lookout at the trail’s terminus, where the Cascades are visible in the distance.

More Mount Hood Hikes information: More hikes in the Mount Hood National Forest


7. Trillium Lake Loop

Mount Hood Hikes Info: Loop | 1.9 Miles | 26 ft Elevation Gain

How to get here: Take U.S. 26 east 3 miles past Government Camp. When you see the Trillium Lake sign, head south for 1.6 miles to the main parking area.

This easy but picturesque jaunt takes visitors around the shores of Trillium Lake, which is framed by thick growths of evergreen trees and majestic Mount Hood towering above them. During the summer months, hikers will observe a variety of wetland wildflowers along the boardwalk paths on the west shore of the lake, which was formed in 1960 following the construction of the Mud Creek Dam.

In addition to the hiking trail, Trillium Lake offers a serene setting for picnicking, paddleboarding, windsurfing, swimming, and kayaking. Camping is also available, although advance reservations are strongly recommended.

More Mount Hood Hikes information: More hikes in the Mount Hood National Forest


6. Lost Lake Loop

Mount Hood Hikes Info: Loop | 3.2 Miles | 60 ft Elevation Gain

How to get here: From Granite, take Grant County Road 24 west for 3.4 miles until the paved road becomes gravel. Continue on Forest Road 10 to the west another 11.5 miles past the entrance to Olive Lake. The trailhead will be on the left side of the road.

This family-friendly hike takes visitors around Lost Lake, which is widely considered to be the most photographed lake in the state. The trail is well-maintained with minimal elevation gain, and it features an extensive boardwalk system with plenty of opportunities to splash in the water or stop for a fishing excursion.

The route then winds through thickets of old-growth cedar, Douglas fir, and western hemlock and across a scree slope before traversing through a series of bogs. At the end of the trail, a clearing in the majestic red cedar trees reveals a picture-perfect view of Lost Lake and its reflection of Mount Hood rising behind it.

More Mount Hood Hikes information: More hikes in the Mount Hood National Forest


5. Timberline Lodge to Zigzag Canyon

Mount Hood Hikes Info: Out and Back | 4.4 Miles | 820 ft Elevation Gain

How to get here: From Portland, take U.S. 26 east of Sandy, continuing 28.5 miles through Government Camp to the left turn for Timberline Lodge, a magnificent Depression-era complex on the south side of Mount Hood. Continue another 5.5 miles until you reach the parking area below the lodge, where you’ll find the Timberline Lodge Trailhead.

This popular, moderately challenging hike takes trekkers across alpine meadows and through the modest Sand Canyon before arriving at the Zigzag Overlook, which features impressive views of Zigzag Canyon, Paradise Park, and mesa-like rock formations as well as the ubiquitous Mount Hood in the distance.

More Mount Hood Hikes information: More hikes in the Mount Hood National Forest


4. Tamanawas Falls

Mount Hood Hikes Info: Out and Back | 3.4 Miles | 580 ft Elevation Gain

How to get here: From Hood River, travel south on Highway 35 for approximately 30 miles to the Tamanawas Falls trailhead (south access) and parking area, which will be on the west side of the highway. If you reach Sherwood Campground, you’ve just missed the trailhead.

This scenic, family-friendly trail takes hikers over an impressive log bridge over the rushing waters of the Hood River’s East Fork before meandering along the banks of Cold Spring Creek. The path is largely shaded by a canopy of Engelmann spruce, western red cedar, and Douglas fir trees.

Roughly two miles into the hike, you’ll see the rugged rock faces of the andesite cliffs above the trail before taking a series of switchbacks through a vast boulder field. After passing through another section of dense forest, the trail arrives at Tamanawas Falls, where the waters of Cold Spring Creek rush over a 110-foot lava cliff near the base of Mount Hood.

In the summer, the trail is often painted with swatches of colorful wildflowers, and in winter the falls may freeze into an icy grotto.

More Mount Hood Hikes information: More hikes in the Mount Hood National Forest


3. Castle Canyon Trail

Mount Hood Hikes Info: Out and Back | 1.6 Miles | 823 ft Elevation Gain

How to get here: From Rhododendron, take U.S. 26 and turn north onto E Arlie Mitchel Road. Continue .3 miles to the intersection with Henry Creek Road and turn left. The trailhead is located about half a mile from the junction.

This short trail leads hikers along modest grades through stands of old-growth forest before a dramatic increase in elevation of nearly 800 feet in less than a half-mile.

The end of the trail requires some scrambling, but your efforts will be rewarded with the appearance of the Pinnacles, the unusual rock formations after which the area is named. If you visit in late spring, you’re also likely to be treated to the bold colors of the abundant rhododendrons that grow along the trail.

More Mount Hood Hikes information: More hikes in the Mount Hood National Forest


2. Old Salmon River Trail

Mount Hood Hikes Info: Out and Back | 5 Miles | 187 ft Elevation Gain

How to get here: : From Portland, take U.S. 26 east 42 miles to the town of Zigzag. Turn right on Salmon River Road and continue 2.7 miles until you reach the trailhead on the right. Bring your Northwest Forest parking pass or $5 for trail access.

This easy-to-navigate trail runs parallel to both the picturesque Salmon River and Salmon River Road, which was built as part of the regional logging boom in the years following World War II. The mostly flat hike includes a few small hills, most of which feature stairs, as well as a handful of rustic bridges over the small streams that feed the rushing river.

Dense stands of old-growth cedar and Douglas fir mark the first half of the trail, which then curves closer to the river across a pair of footbridges and a rocky pass. Turn around at the Salmon River West Trailhead and return to your starting point to clock a pleasant 5 miles.

More Mount Hood Hikes information: More hikes in the Mount Hood National Forest


1. Ramona Falls

Mount Hood Hikes Info: Loop | 7.1 Miles | 1,035 ft Elevation Gain

How to get here: From Portland, head north on Lolo Pass Road for four miles. Turn onto Forest Road 1825 and continue 2.3 miles to the junction of Forest Road 1825-100. Turn left and continue .3 mile, then turn left onto Forest Road 1825-024 until you reach the parking lot at the Ramona Falls trailhead.

This rambling trail spreads its 1,000 feet of elevation gain over 3.5 miles, making it a reasonable endeavor for hikers of all abilities and experience levels. The broad, sandy path winds through mountain hemlock, Douglas fir, and lodgepole pine, with abundant patches of moss and reindeer lichen growing at its edges.

Be prepared to ford the Sandy River Crossing at just over a mile into the hike; conditions are safest during summer and fall but may be hazardous during the winter and spring months. The trail then runs parallel to the river until it intersects the Pacific Crest Trail, passes over Ramona Creek, and continues along the creek’s banks through a canyon of pink andesite cliffs.

Just past the junction with the Timberline Trail, you’ll see the misty veil of Ramona Falls, where you’ll want to stop and enjoy the scenery before continuing along the loop back to the trailhead. There is no question that this is one of the most beautiful Mount Hood hikes in the national forest.

More Mount Hood Hikes information: More hikes in the Mount Hood National Forest


For more resources relating to hiking and more, right here on The Portlandist, we implore you to check out the following articles and guides:

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