Mt Hood is the only ski area in North America where you can downhill ski year round. They also have the impressive Timberline Lodge. In addition to being able to stay in one of the rooms here, you can walk around and marvel at the luxurious building, get food and beverages, or play the giant Jenga out back while enjoying the view of Mt. Hood. Located at 6,000 feet, anyone can get close to Mt. Hood and feel it’s size. What else is there to do if you don’t ski or mountaineer? Read on to find out.
There is a trail around the base of the mountain that is long, but the trail consists of rolling hills. Some people backpack the entire thing while others walk a bit, then turn around. There are also a lot of other trails leading to interesting spots off the main trail. No matter what you choose, the views are beautiful both up to the mountain, and outward to the surrounding Cascades.
Not only that, there are lots of other hikes in the area, as well as nice ponds. In addition to checking out a couple ponds, I hiked to Mirror Lake and beyond to Tom Dick and Harry Mountain. Mirror Lake is a very popular hike due to it’s proximity to Portland and the highway, as well as the fact that it is a beautiful spot. Going beyond is much less popular, offering more peace and quiet.
The trail to Mirror Lake is wide, steady, and well maintained. Once you reach the lake, after 1.5 miles of hiking, you will be rewarded with views of Mt. Hood reflecting off the water. Of course, this is if the weather cooperates with you. There are campsites around the lake for those wishing to stay overnight. To get to Tom Dick and Harry Mountain (I don’t make the names), you will continue for 1.4 more miles on a narrower trail like hikers are used to walking on. The pitch of the hike is moderate with the last small push being a bit steeper and more rocky. But once you reach the top, the views of Mt. Hood, Mirror Lake below, and the surrounding Cascades are amazing.
My favorite place to view Mt. Hood reflecting off the water is Trillium Lake. It is on a Forest Service road, but the road is well maintained. You can drive up and look at the view, go for a paddle (bring your own boat or paddleboard), or walk around the lake. This is a place not to miss.
Seeing a sign for Lavender Valley while driving around the mountain, I decided to turn the car. It was several miles from the highway, but well worth the stop. They have lavender fields that you are free to walk in. The best part? Mt. Hood is the backdrop. Yes, this is a beautiful spot. They sell lavender and lavender products such as soaps and teas in a small building, too.
Government Camp is a very small town with food, coffee, and lodging. I found a nice coffee shop offering food that was a nice spot to take a break. If I had more time, I would have done more hikes as there were so many more to choose from.