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7 Hikes Near Hood River and Mt. Hood, Oregon (and Other Outdoorsy Fun)

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Until two years ago, when I attended PCT Days in Cascade Locks and then spent a few days on the Pacific Crest Trail with a thru-hiker friend of mine, I had never been to the Columbia River Gorge and Mt. Hood area of Oregon. But the region was perhaps even more captivating than what I had since seen and experienced in other areas of the state. So I couldn’t wait to return and explore the outdoor adventure opportunities and hikes near Hood River and nearby Mt. Hood. Fortunately, we just got another chance this spring.

Which is a great time to visit, because it’s still not the busy season, the Columbia River is wide and impressive, the sun bright, the mountain views pretty dang spectacular, the trails abundant, and crowds scarce. So we spent a few days exploring, hiking, biking, and discovering some of what there is to do in the region (mostly where trails are concerned). Spoilers: we found plenty. So if you’re ready to plan your own adventure, here are some of our favorite hikes near Hood River and Mt. Hood!


Hikes near Mt. Hood

The paved path at Wildwood Recreation Center.
The paved path at Wildwood Recreation Center.

Cascade Streamwatch Trail at Wildwood Recreation Center – 3/4 mile

While more of a stroll on forested shady paths (paved and wheelchair accessible) than proper hike, the looping 3/4-mile trail leads to an underwater fish viewing chamber where you can watch salmon and other fish migrate during season. If they’re not active, you’ll still find towering western red cedar trees, the rushing sound of the river is ever-present, western sword ferns sprout in the sun-dappled shade, and the path is lined with artfully designed benches and signage explaining the workings of the watershed, stories of water protection, scientific developments, and more. There are several picnic areas equipped with tables, charcoal grills, and fire pits, too. You’ll need a $5 day pass to park, which you can get at a kiosk once you arrive. And after you check out the fish, there are sever miles of wooded trail to explore within the recreation area.

A stream crossing on Burnt Lake Trail.
A stream crossing on Burnt Lake Trail.

Burnt Lake Trail – 7 miles

For a longer, more challenging hike, head to Burnt Lake Trail in the Mt. Hood Wilderness. From May 15 to October 1, you need either a US National Parks pass or a Washington state Discover Pass ($10 day use, $30 annual) to park and hike here. In May, there is still a lot of snow on the last half-mile to and around the lake (ask me how I know…), making it difficult to traverse in more wintery months (and you won’t have as nice a view), but it’s still an exceedingly pleasant hike. The trail is a fairly gradual but long uphill hike in mostly shaded areas peppered with several shallow creek crossings, especially when water is running high after rain or in the spring and early summer when the snow begins to melt. You will get one or two glimpses of Mount Hood during your hike through silver firs, cedars, and sword ferns. Take note: The last mile and a half or so of the road in dirt and potholes abound, so a medium clearance vehicle is recommended. Backpacking and camping are allowed.

Little Zig Zag Falls.
Little Zig Zag Falls.

Little Zig Zag Falls Trail – <1 mile

This easy, lushly green Mt. Hood trail is a 0.6-mile out-and-back route that is easy and mostly level (unless you want to go to the top of the falls, which requires a brief climb). The falls are majestic, and the trail is particularly cool because of the shady canyon and the icy stream, so it’s popular in the heat of summer. Moss-covered rocks and trees line the path, and tall cedars and firs let just enough light through to the dark, soft soil of the forest floor, creating a magical atmosphere. The entire trail follows the noisy stream, and in the summer, there are plenty of opportunities to cool off in the water, including near the base of the falls.

A view of Mt. Hood from Trillium Lake.
A view of Mt. Hood from Trillium Lake.

Trillium Lake – 2 miles

No list of hiking trails near Mt. Hood would be complete without Trillium Lake, a lovely area in Government Camp with a nice looping trail that circumnavigates the lake and offers iconic (and reflective) views of Mt. Hood. The road opens to the lake in late May (weather dependent), at which time you need either a US National Parks pass or a Washington state Discover Pass ($10 day use, $30 annual) to park and hike here. Before the road opens, plan to hike an extra 2 miles or so up the road to the lake each way. But once you’re there, there are campgrounds, a day-use area that’s open for swimming in the summer, trails, and more. It’s totally worth spending the afternoon.


A tiny cabin at Mount Hood Village.
A tiny cabin at Mount Hood Village.

Where to Stay near Mt. Hood

If you’re looking for a place to stay in Mt. Hood and its surrounds, there are plenty of campgrounds, dispersed camping on national forest land, and rental properties available in and around Mt. Hood, but we recommend staying in the Mount Hood Tiny House Village at the Mt. Hood Village Campground. You’ll get access to the campground’s fitness center and pool, plus free wifi in the lodge, a general store, and easy access to many hikes and small town in the region.


Hikes near Hood River

Hikes Near Hood River: The view from part of Twin Tunnel Trail.
The view from part of Twin Tunnel Trail.

Twin Tunnel Trail – 3+ miles

The Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail used to be a driving route but is now a paved path that runs 4.5 miles (one way) from Mosier to Hood River (and beyond, just with several unconnected sections) and offers a fabulous bike ride (or stroll). You’ll need to ride on roads to reach downtown in either location, so be prepared, but it’s a mostly fun and carefree (if fairly hilly) ride and you can take a short jaunt just up and through the tunnel (which is about 3 miles round-trip) or ride from city center to city center (about 14 miles round-trip). The trail offers big views of the Columbia River, as well as the towns and highways in the distance. There are plenty of lookout points along the way that invite you to take a break and enjoy the view in addition to a cool old tunnel to explore.

Hikes Near Hood River: The view from near the end of Mosier Plateau Trail.
The view from near the end of Mosier Plateau Trail.

Mosier Plateau Trail – 3 miles

This single-track path that’s only a few minute’s walk from the center of Mosier (and the lovely Camp Randonnée Cabins) is mostly packed dirt with a few rocks here and there. Near the beginning, you’ll pass a waterfall that adventurous individuals may want to scramble down to on a hot day in order to sit in one of the pools near the top. However, simply enjoying the view is an equally pleasant option. The trail is surrounded by plenty of Ponderosa pines, oak trees, and wildflowers like bachelor buttons and hairy vetch growing among tall grasses. At the lollipop loop at the end, you’ll enjoy sweeping views of the Columbia River Gorge in both directions and the hills of Washington on the other side. It’s a lovely hike with a fair amount of elevation gain, but it’s worth it, especially if you time your arrival at the final lookout just before sunset. Just don’t forget your headlamp.

Hikes Near Hood River: Two hikers rest at Wachlella Falls.
Two hikers rest at Wachlella Falls.

Wahclella Falls trail – 2.3 miles

The lollipop trail follows the creek and ascends significantly on the way to the falls. If you take the fork to the left, you can tackle the uphill portion before reaching the falls, making the return hike mostly downhill. The trail is partially shaded and rocky but often wide enough for two people. You’ll be surrounded by views of moss-covered cliffs and boulders, the rushing rapids of the creek, wildflowers, clover, and plenty of greenery from towering pines, ferns, and deciduous trees like oaks. The falls themselves are tall and impressive and plenty picturesque, plus offer a refreshing pool at the base for swimming on a hot day. There’s not much parking at the trailhead though, so be prepared to walk from farther away or be patient as you wait for other hikers to come and go.

Windsurfers at Hood River Waterfront Park.
Windsurfers at Hood River Waterfront Park.

Chill at Hood River Waterfront Park

Bring a blanket to spread on the grass (or the small beach area), enjoy a picnic, kick off your shoes, spread out, and enjoy the view of windsurfers, kite surfers, and more water-based athletes enjoy the iconic wind and water of Hood River (the city is renowned for its watersport opportunities). If you want to try it out for yourself, a number of outfitters in town offer rentals and lessons. But it’s also just a great place to relax post-hike.


Camp Randonée cabins in Mosier, Oregon.
Camp Randonnée cabins in Mosier, Oregon.

Where to Stay near Hood River

There are plenty of places to stay in Hood River, Oregon, including hotels and other rentals, but we found delightfully welcome peace and quiet at the barely-a-year-old Camp Randonnée cabins (pronounce ron-do-NAY) in nearby Mosier: 4 upscale, stylish, and modern Scandanavian-style studio dwellings with a full kitchen, living room, shaded balcony, views of the Columbia River, a coffee shop down the hill, fire pits on the landscaped terrace, and a private gear shed for your bikes or windsurfing gear. It’s a stunning retreat located right along the gorge.


The fish ladder at Bonneville Lock and Dam.
The fish ladder at Bonneville Lock and Dam.

Other Outdoor Activities

Want more things to do in Hood River and Mt. Hood? There are an endless amount of trails in Oregon’s Columbia Gorge area just waiting to be explored. Mountain bikers should head to Post Canyon for MTB trails, waterfall hikes abound (in the summer, check out the Waterfall Trolley to avoid traffic and parking headaches), including Dry Creek and the longer Tunnel Falls, and history/energy/architecture buffs may want to plan a free visit to Bonneville Lock and Dam. Near Mt. Hood, check out Flag Mountain Loop for a nice hike or challenging mountain bike ride that meets up with the Oregon Trail for a bit.

There’s also skiing, snowboarding, and other snow fun at Timberline Lodge, and well into May you’ll find excellent spring skiing conditions, so if you prefer winter sports, there’s plenty of that, too.

Basically, you’ll be hard pressed to run out of outdoorsy things to do in the Columbia River Gorge and Mt. Hood area.


Where to Eat in Mt. Hood and Hood River

Vegans will find more options in Hood River than around Mt. Hood, but here are a few stops that we found more than satisfying.

  • Golden Goods: The only all-vegan cafe in Hood River. Pastries, sandwiches, and more deliciousness abound!
  • pFreim Family Brewers: Located in Hood River, you’ll find good beer and several delicious vegan options, including mac and cheese!
  • Farm Stand in the Gorge: In Hood River, this little health food store has all the supplies you need to make your meals, plus a delicious cafe.
  • Draper Girls Family Farm: Like hard cider? It doesn’t get much better than this. Sample a flight or sip in the garden patio with views of Mt. Hood. Located just outside of Hood River.
  • Al Forno Ferruzza: Excellent wood-fired pizza with abundant vegan topping and non-dairy cheese options in Rhododendron near Mt. Hood.
  • Coffee 26: Decent coffee and bagels in a shop that also sells used (and banned) books.
  • Mt. Hood Brewing Company: Stellar fries and black bean burgers. Located in Government Camp near Mt. Hood.

A couple Smiling at the Top of Mosier Plateau.
Smiling at the Top of Mosier Plateau.

Bottom Line: Hikes near Hood River and Mt. Hood

Ready to hit the trails? You should be. Heck, we’d totally go back, kick it in some stylish cabins for a few more days. There’s plenty to keep you busy for at least 5-7 days. So start planning, lace up your boots (or barefoot sandals), and get moving already!