10 Hikes near Mt. Hood
A few hikes around Mt. Hood just outside of Portland, Oregon that are ideal for off-days or just a way to mix up your activities. Most hikes are best accessed from May - October depending on snow/road conditions. Please take a look at road closures and forest permits before heading out. Weather can change quickly in the mountains so make sure you have water, extra cloths, and snacks.
Mirror Lake - Tom, Dick, & Harry Mountain
A popular spot on the weekends so plan on getting here early as the parking lot will fill up soon. Most people only go to the lake which is a pretty short hike with views of Mt. Hood. If you are feeling up to it continue towards the peak of Tom, Dick, & Harry mountain where the crowds thin out and you get an even more dramatic view of Mt. Hood and the surrounding volcanoes. On a clear day you can see Mt. Jefferson, Sisters Mountain range, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainer, and Mt. Adams.
I haven't been here during the summer months in some years. I would suggest an early start if you are looking to beat the crowds, you will find a few dedicated snowshoers during the winter months - trail is fairly flat until the final ascent via a few switchbacks to reach the lake.
Length: 9.0 mi – Elevation gain: 1,709 ft
Another popular Lake near Government Camp that offers a short hiking trail loop that goes around the lake. Beautiful views of Mt. Hood where you can find people fishing and stand up paddle boarding. This is a nice spot to watch the sunset or for the night owl you can get some star photos and watch the groomers on the mountain do their night maintenance.
A nice spot to take in the views if you have had a busy day hiking or a nice spot to have a picnic. There is a State Park with camping and boat access along with some remote camping on adjacent forest roads.
Length: 1.9 mi – Elevation gain: 26 ft
Little Crater Lake
Not much of a hike but this hidden gem features a sapphire-hued artesian spring formed in a dissolving layer of siltstone. Alpine fields with flowers surround this area and Timothy Lake a popular camping destination is nearby. The water stays around 35 degrees year-round. Of course check out Crater Lake a few hours south if you have the time!
A must see if you are enroute to Bend or are planning on going to Timothy Lake. There are a few other points of interest around here so if you are passing by add this to your list.
Length: 0.4 mi – Elevation gain: 0 ft
A dramatic 150' waterfalls with a easy hike through the forest with a few foot bridges to aid in crossing the streams. Favorite time to visit the falls in the Mt. Hood area is when we get the classic Pacific Northwest weather. Sure a sunny day is nice but the mist and spray from the falls on an overcast day is really the best.
A short hike through the forest along a few tributaries leading to this rewarding falls. This is a popular hike so consider the time of day you are trying to visit. If you are enroute to Hood River this is a good one to stop at.
Length: 3.4 mi – Elevation gain: 580 ft
A popular hike with low elevation gain makes this 7.1 mile hike feel more like a stroll - Offering views of Mt. Hood walking through the forest you will come to a river crossing where you have to walk across fallen logs that make the 'bridge'. From here you walk up the trail where you are met with Ramona Falls made of columnar basalt where water cascades down. Situated in the forest hidden by the sunlight you can get shimmers of rainbows as the mist hits the sunlight.
Although close to 8 miles the majority of the hike is very gradual. Walking through the forest follow a wide path to this popular destination. There are a variety of connecting trails including the Timberline Ridge Trail if you are looking to add a night of backpacking to the list.
Length: 7.1 mi – Elevation gain: 1,066 ft
One of the more difficult hikes on this list McNeil Ridge offers a number of overlooks of Mt. Hood as you go through forest to upper alpine conditions. Situated on Mt. Hood itself there are a number of connection trails including the Pacific Crest Trail depending on how far you want to travel. Once you make it up to McNeil Ridge you will see an old stone warming structure. If your legs aren't tired at this point continue up the ridge to the end of the trail at Ho rock. There are a number of camping spots for those who want to backpack along the way.
I've done this hike a few times and it still remains one of my favorites. You go through a variety of alpine environments. Dense forest rises through alpine valleys as you ascend to above treeline. The hike offers a variety views of the peak of Mt. Hood on a sunny day but the topography attracts localized clouds on many days like this lenticular clouds above.
Length: 8.5 mi – Elevation gain: 2,585 ft
Hiking through an old forest fire, dead trees stand bleached from the sun and new forest growth has started to emerge. At the end of the hike you are treated with a beautiful alpine valley which connects with the Pacific Crest Trail and the north side of Mt. Hood towering above.
Walking on a ridge for most of the hike through a burnt forest you get nice views of the ridge leading up to Cloud Cap on your right with a few ephemeral falls. As you get closer to Elk Meadow you start to ascend to tree line and are treated with views of the retreating glaciers on the North side of Mt. Hood.
Length: 6.6 mi – Elevation gain: 1,407 ft
A drive up to Cloud Cap can be an adventure in itself, you drive up a dirt road for a few miles traversing through a burnt forest with plenty of wildflowers and views of Mt. Hood. Once at the Trailhead for Cloud Cap there are a few places to hike up ridges to get views above treeline. If you are up for a hike the trail outlined heads to Elk Meadow which offers views of the North side of Mt. Hood and a few waterfalls.
There is camping at the end of the road and is an easy way to stage for doing the Timberline Ridge Trail or spending a night taking in the sunset from 6,000 ft.
Length: 10.6 mi – Elevation gain: 2,444 ft
A short easy hike by Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort where you walk through open meadows to a cascading falls. When the peaks of the mountain are hidden in the fog this is a great place to get outside and hear the moving water.
If you have had a busy day and looking to add a stop on your trip this is an easy one to take in a cascading falls with minimal effort. On the access road of Mt. Hood Meadows consider going up to the resort and seeing what activities are in operation.
Length: 3.9 mi – Elevation gain: 830 ft
A gently sloping hike ending at a medium alpine lake with views of Mt. Hood. Walking through the forest for most of the hike it's only the last bit that gains elevation revealing the lake and mountain. Right before the path starts to zig-zag you will see a small foot path on the left leading to a 20' or so cascading falls. Gray Jays at the lake seem to know this is a popular spot as you will be greeted by them looking for snacks. Zigzag mountain is a short hike from here if you want to get a view looking down on the lake along with Mt. Hood.
Walking through a forest with some old growth trees and old fire burnt logs this is a mellow hike with a rewarding view of Burnt Lake and Mt. Hood revealed at the end.
Length: 7.7 mi – Elevation gain: 1,669 ft
Devil's Peak Lookout
Devil's Peak features an old fire tower lookout and is a steep hike from the provided directions. Walking up from the valley you ascend upwards gradually revealing Mt. Hood with a few exposed ridges breaking up the forest shade. If you have a 4x4 vehicle there is actually a road where the hike becomes a 0.5 mile travers. Either way from the lookout you get a nice view of Mt. Hood with undulating foothills in the foreground.
The surrounding valleys of Mt. Hood can be deceiving in their approach. This is definitely a hike that starts going up and ends when you arrive at the peak. Once at the top you can see why this view was so advantageous for placing a fire lookout at the top.
Length: 2.6 mi – Elevation gain: 826 ft
The lake itself is a great place to just relax, swim, fish, and take in the views of Mt. Hood. Camping and cabins are also available along the lake. Hike up the North side of the lake for a dramatic view of the lake and Mt. Hood standing prominent in the distance. This is a popular destination for families so if you are looking for something off the beaten path consider another option.
Camping and Yurts are available for rent but this is a popular destination for familyies so make sure to check availability if looking to stay longer than a day trip.
Length: 3.7 mi – Elevation gain: 1,292 ft
*Don't leave any valuables unattended in your vehicle regardless of where you find yourself