The Ultimate Guide To Mount Hood
Mount Hood, a year-round skiing destination in the US!
Mount Hood, a dormant volcano and the tallest mountain range in Oregon, with its snow-covered slopes, crystal clear lakes, and lush valleys, is a paradise for skiers and nature lovers!
Located in southern Oregon, about 75 miles southeast of Portland, Mount Hood is part of the Mount Hood National Forest. The year-round snow-covered peak of Mount Hood, located at an elevation of about 11,249 feet, and its many glaciers and snowfields, are cherished by skiers and snowboarders! The snowmelt from mountains and glaciers create several waterfalls and creeks, adding to the charm of the fascinatingly beautiful lush glacier-carved valley around Mount Hood!
Shaped by numerous massive volcanic eruptions dating back several thousand years, Mount Hood is a cone-shaped volcano composed of several layers and is considered an active volcano and is diligently studied and monitored. Though there haven’t been any recent volcanic activities since it last erupted in 1865, the steam vents and the hot springs found in the surrounding Mount Hood National Forest give us an idea about the hot magma that lies underneath.
Though skiing and snowboarding are the primary activities in Mount Hood but come summer, the lush glacier-carved valley becomes a perfect getaway to nature!
Unquestionably, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, sledding, snow tubing, and snowmobiling take center stage during the winter months in Mount Hood. However, come summer, a lot of the snow-covered valley becomes accessible, offering access to gorgeous lakes, waterfalls, and nature trails. If you’re not into skiing or hiking, you could still enjoy the captivating vistas at Mount Hood by driving the Mount Hood Scenic Drive and visiting the historic Timberline Lodge, a mountain lodge located near the peak of Mount Hood.
Here is my ultimate guide to Mount Hood, featuring essential trip-planning information, attractions map, hiking trails, suggested itinerary, and recommendations on hotels and restaurants in Mount Hood!
Getting To Mount Hood
The best and most comfortable way to get to Mount Hood is by flying into Portland, Oregon, and then driving to Mount Hood or, alternatively, taking a scenic train or bus tour of Mount Hood!
Airports Near Mount Hood: Portland International Airport (PDX), Portland, Oregon, is the closest airport to Mount Hood, located about 65 miles from Mount Hood, and is served by all major airlines. You could rent a car from a rental car company at the Portland airport and then drive to Mount Hood, or, alternatively, you could also take a scenic train or bus tour of Mount Hood, which I have covered in detail in the later section of the post.
Train Services To Mount Hood: The Portland Union Station is the nearest full-service Amtrak station to Mount Hood, located about 68 miles from Mount Hood. There’re a couple of other Amtrak stations near Mount Hood, but they have limited service and amenities including, Bingen-White Salmon, Washington, about 40 miles from Mount Hood and Wishram, Washington, around 66 miles from Mount Hood.
Bus Services To Mount Hood: Greyhound offers bus services to Oregon, with the closest full-service Greyhound bus stop being Portland and Portland Bolt Lloyd Center, both located around 65 miles from Mount Hood. However, there are a couple of other Greyhound bus stops near Mount Hood, including Hood River and The Dalles, but they have limited service and amenities.
Once you’re at your desired train or bus station in Oregon, you have a few choices to get to Mount Hood, including renting a car and driving to Mount Hood, a scenic train ride from Hood River, or a Mount Hood bus tour.
Things To Do In Mount Hood
Mount Hood Attractions Map
Mount Hood Brief Overview
The Mount Hood Scenic Drive, also known as the Mount Hood Scenic Byway, is one of the best ways to explore Mount Hood and the surrounding wilderness of the Mount Hood National Forest!
Starting and ending in Portland, Oregon, the Mount Hood Scenic Drive is a 185 miles loop meandering through forested land and is home to several landmarks, vista points, waterfalls, creeks, hiking trails, lively towns, and of course, offers some of the best views of Mount Hood! The Mount Hood Scenic Byway also provides access to the several ski areas and resorts in the Mount Hood region.
The Mount Hood Scenic Drive starts at Portland and, after about 17 miles on Interstate 84, enters the US Highway 26 at Troutdale, Oregon. The Mount Hood Scenic Byway continues for about 44 miles on US Highway 26 on the west side of Mount Hood before it meets the State Highway 35, which traverses the rest of the 40 miles to Hood River along the eastern slope of Mount Hood. The road then joins back the Interstate 84 at Hood River, which would take you back to Portland, Oregon.
Below, I have highlighted the major areas along the Mount Hood Scenic Byway and those areas’ main attractions. I have saved the route information on Google Maps, and you could follow the path using this link – Mount Hood Scenic Byway.
- Troutdale: Troutdale serves not only as a gateway to the Mount Hood Scenic Drive, but it and its two adjacent towns of Gresham and Wood Village are also home to several hiking & biking trails and offer various shopping, dining, and lodging options.
- Sandy: Named after the Sandy River, Sandy is another charming town along the Mount Hood Scenic Byway popularly known for its Sandy Ridge Trail System, a mountain biking trail, and the Jonsrud vista point offering expansive views of Sandy River and Mount Hood rising in the background.
- Government Camp: Government Camp is a lively small village at the base of Mount Hood with several local eateries, shops, and home to the Mount Hood Cultural Center & Museum and Mount Hood Skibowl Adventure Park.
- Timberline Lodge: The historic Timberline Lodge, located near the peak of Mount Hood, is a major attraction and a year-round ski resort offering lodging and dining, along with excellent views of Mount Hood’s peak.
- Hood River Valley: The Hood River Valley, hilltop farmland with fertile volcanic soil, is home to several farms and ranches growing apples, cherries, grapes, and lavender.
- Hood River: The town of Hood River, the easternmost point on the Mount Hood Scenic Byway, is a charming town offering access to the mountains, river, and several nature trails.
Historical Timberline Lodge
Timberline Lodge is a year-round ski resort that serves as an excellent base for skiers and an observation deck for day visitors!
Located close to Mount Hood’s peak, the Timberline Lodge was built in the year 1937 and is a National Historic Landmark. The Timberline Lodge is one of the most famed and popular structures in Oregon, serving as a mountain retreat offering access to several ski areas, hiking trails, and a multitude of outdoor recreational activities. The exteriors of the Timberline Lodge were also featured in Stephen King’s movie, The Shining!
The Timberline Lodge, with its luxurious room, breathtaking views, excellent guest service, and dining options, is the best place to stay atop Mount Hood. Even if you’re not staying in Timberline Lodge, you could still visit the lodge, access the lobby, patio, dine in one of the restaurants, and take a guided tour of the lodge. You could sit around the gorgeous stone fireplace and enjoy the views of Mount Hood’s peak through the large glass windows, or if it’s not too cold, step out and enjoy the vistas from the patio.
The high altitude, abundant snowfall, and the glaciers and snowfields in Mount Hood make Mount Hood one of the most desirable year-round snow sports destinations in the US! There’re several ski and snow play areas in Mount Hood offering several snow sports, including cross-country skiing, snowboarding, sledding, tubing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and several others.
Major Ski Areas & Snow Parks In Mount Hood
- Timberline Lodge
- Mount Hood Skibowl
- Mount Hood Meadows
- Cooper Spur Ski and Tubing Area
- Summit Ski Area
- Trillium Sno Park
- Snow Bunny Snow Park
- White River West Sno-Park
Snow Parks are snowy terrains allowing freestyle skiing, snowboarding, and other snow sports and are more beginner and family-friendly!
Mount Hood Hiking Trails
Come summer, the lush valleys blooming with wildflowers and the several creeks formed by the snowmelt make Mount Hood an excellent hiking destination!
Even in the summer months, there’s enough snow on the peak to let skiers and snowboarders enjoy winter sports. However, the rising temperature and melting snow create a lush valley with clear water lakes, waterfalls, and nature trails, making it a paradise for nature lovers and hikers.
There’re several hiking trails in the Mount Hood region, with the majority of the popular hikes starting at the base of Mount Hood’s peak and Government Camp area. Here I’ve listed the most popular hikes in Mount Hood, along with the main features, difficulty level, trailhead, and time required for the hike.
Trillium Lake Trail: The Trillium Lake Trail is an easy hike to the Trillium Lake offering incredible vistas of the Lake with Mount Hood in the background.
- Trailhead: Trillium Lake Trailhead Near Government Camp
- Distance: 3.6 Miles Roundtrip
- Time: 2 – 3 Hours
Ramona Falls Trail: The Ramona Falls Trail is a moderately strenuous hike leading to Ramona Falls, a gorgeous cascading waterfall of the Sandy River.
- Trailhead: Ramona Falls Trailhead
- Distance: 7 Miles Roundtrip
- Time: 5 – 6 Hours
The Glade Trail: The Glade Trail, also used as a skiing trail in the winter, is a moderately strenuous hike from the Timberline Lodge to Government Camp.
- Trailhead: Government Camp / Timberline Lodge
- Distance: 6.3 Miles Roundtrip
- Time: 4 – 5 Hours
Timberline Trail: The Timberline Trail, encircling Mount Hood’s peak, is one of the most iconic backpacking trails in Mount Hood but is pretty challenging. The Timberline Trail offers excellent views of Mount Hood, glaciers, snowfields, rivers, and waterfalls.
- Trailhead: Timberline Lodge / Ramona Falls Trailhead
- Distance: 40 Miles Loop
- Time: 1 – 2 Days
Oregon State Sno-Park Permits are required to access some of these trails in the winter months, which can be obtained online on the Oregon.gov website.
Enjoy stunning mountain scenery and expansive vistas of Mount Hood onboard the Mount Hood Railroad’s scenic train ride!
The Mount Hood Railroad offers a scenic train ride from Hood River to Parkdale, a charming small picturise neighborhood located amidst farms and ranches with breathtaking views of Mount Hood rising in the background. The Mount Hood Railroad offers first-class booth-style seating and Sky Dome seating and also offers a Christmas-themed train ride.
The train departs from the Mount Hood Railroad depot in Hood River and offers paid onsite parking. The train doesn’t take you all the way to the base of Mount Hood but does offer spectacular views of forested land, vineyards, and farmlands with the backdrop of Mount Hood. This is a great way to explore the Hood River valley and experience the wilderness of the Mout Hood National Forest. The train rides can be reserved online on the Mount Hood Railroad website.
Several local tour companies offer bus tours of Mount Hood from Portland, often combined with other attractions on the route. There’re generic group tours, and there’re private customized tours with a few companies offering hotel pick up and drop off services. Most of the tours stop at Crown Point, Multnomah Falls, and Timberline Lodge in Mount Hood.
The tours are well narrated and well-paced, allowing sufficient time at each attraction. I don’t prefer one tour company over the other, as they offer similar destinations and services. However, here’re a few local tour companies you could consider – Oregon Tour Co., Wildwood Adventures, Vintage Tour Bus, and Eco Tours of Oregon.
Mount Hood Suggested Itineraries, Hotels & Restaurants
The Mount Hood Scenic Drive and a stop at the Historic Timberline Lodge are a must-do on a trip to Mount Hood!
The best way to explore Mount Hood and the neighboring wilderness is by driving along the Mount Hood Scenic Byway and stopping and exploring the vista points along the drive. However, given the several choices, it becomes overwhelming to decide the right stops and hikes for your trip to Mount Hood.
To help you select the best vista points and things to do on your trip to Mount Hood, I created and organized my Mount Hood trip itinerary and recommendations based on the number of days you plan to spend in Mount Hood.
1 Day Mount Hood Trip Itinerary: If you’re visiting Mount Hood just for a day, your best option is to stick to the Mount Hood Scenic Byway, making brief stops at popular vista points and spending some time exploring the Timberline Lodge. Alternatively, you could also take the Mount Hood Scenic Train Ride or one of many Mount Hood Bus Tours.
- Drive Mount Hood Scenic Byway / Scenic Train Ride / Bus Tour
- Stop at popular and easily accessible vista points and spend some time exploring Timberline Lodge.
2 Day Mount Hood Trip Itinerary: If you have two days in Mount Hood, you could spend a day leisurely exploring all vista points along the Mount Hood Scenic Byway and a day hiking one of many trails in Mount Hood.
- Day 1 – Drive the west side of the Mount Hood Scenic Byway, stopping and exploring all vista points. Stay overnight at Timberline Lodge.
- Day 2 – Hike a couple of easy or moderately strenuous hiking trails, and then drive the east side of the Mount Hood Scenic Byway.
Given the nature of the trails and the heavy snowfall in the region, these itineraries are mainly for the summer months when the valley is more accessible. If you’re an avid skier or winter sports enthusiast, you probably would just spend the entire time drifting down the slopes of Mount Hood.
Look nowhere else other than the Timberline Lodge if you’re planning to stay in Mount Hood!
Resorts & Hotels In Mount Hood: The spectacular views of Mount Hood and the proximity to the slopes, glaciers, snowfields, various hiking trails, luxurious guest rooms, and excellent services make Timberline Lodge my favorite place to stay in Mount Hood. However, it gets pretty difficult to get a reservation if not booked in advance.
If you’re unable to get a reservation in Timberline Lodge or don’t really need to stay close to the peak, you will find a few other good lodging options in the Government Camp area, within 10 miles of Timberline Lodge. Here’re my top picks for hotels and resorts in Mount Hood.
- Timberline Lodge
- Best Western Mount Hood Inn, Government Camp
- Collins Lake Resort, Government Camp
- Huckleberry Inn, Government Camp
Restaurants In Mount Hood: There’re ample dining options in Mount Hood! You can enjoy fine and casual dining at one of the resorts along with the incredible views of Mount Hood, or you could try several locally-owned restaurants in Government Camp.
Here’re my recommendations and the top pick for restaurants in Mount Hood – Cascade Dining Room & Ram’s Head Bar in Timberline Lodge, Mazot Eatery at Mount Hood Meadows, Steak House in Huckleberry Inn, and Ratskeller and Charlie’s Mountain View in Government Camp.
Other Oregon Attractions & Related Posts
I hope you enjoyed reading the post, The Ultimate Guide To Mount Hood, and I hope this will help you plan your trip to Mount Hood. You can find other Oregon attractions in my Oregon Travel Guide.
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