Starting about 30 miles east of bustling Portland, this region includes Mt. Hood National Forest, with its Douglas Fir-covered landscape. The Cascade Mountain Range fills out the landscape here and Mt. Hood is the tallest peak, with a height nearing 11,240 feet.
The northern side of Mt. Hood
Leaving the Columbia River corridor along the northern Oregon border and heading south on Highway 35 from Hood River, the charming town of Parkdale sits in the midst of the fertile vineyards and orchards of the Hood River Valley. This is also the highway that leads up the northern face of Mt. Hood, so amazing views of its snow-capped peak abound.
Mt. Hood ski resorts
Speaking of snow, let's talk about serious skiing. Once you've reached the peak of Mt. Hood, the closest town is the alpine village of Government Camp, home to not two but three ski resorts: Timberline Lodge, Mount Hood Skibowl, and Mount Hood Meadows. All are quite popular, but Timberline is perhaps the most famous. Built in the 1930s, its iconic lodge has been used as a location for a number of films including Bend of the River, Lost Horizon, and The Shining. One of the most desirable locations on Mt. Hood, Government Camp is full of convenient ski condos and cozy cabins for travelers who want to stay as close to the slopes as possible.
Charming towns on the west side of Mt. Hood
Highway 26 leads back down the western side of the mountain and is dotted with picturesque villages, full of riverside cabins and rustic retreats. Nine miles from Government Camp, the outdoor paradise of Rhododendron lies close to five state parks and boasts hiking, boating, rafting, climbing, horseback riding, fishing, and more in the summer. Birding enthusiasts can explore two official Oregon Cascades Birding Trails, while using binoculars, cameras, and sketchbooks to capture scenes of their feathered friends.
Two miles further west, the small, unincorporated village of Zigzag is a perfect family getaway full of nonstop outdoor adventure, including quiet hikes along the nearby Zigzag River.
A bit of advice - when you come to visit Zigzag's comparatively bustling neighbor, Welches, be sure to bring your clubs. For an amazing golf getaway, you could not pick a better spot, as there are no less than three golf courses in the area. The initial course, founded in 1928, was actually the very first one in Oregon. After practicing your swing, if you're up for the challenge of catching your dinner, head to the aptly-named Salmon River and spend a sunny afternoon fishing for salmon and steelhead. Like all towns near Mt. Hood, Welches offers many cold-weather activities as well, be it a sleigh ride around snowy downtown or just enjoying a cup of hot cocoa back at your cozy condo.
Outdoor enthusiasts will also adore staying in quiet Brightwood, located near the meeting of the Sandy and Salmon Rivers. This little village is a cyclist's dream with 17 bike trails, rated from strenuous to fun-for-everyone. With two rivers winding through town, fishing is also huge here, so make sure to bring your gear or just head to the small downtown's fishing supply store.
The southern side of Mt. Hood
Our final destination in this richly diverse region is Molalla, a less popular - and thus less crowded - destination tucked southwest of Mt. Hood along the scenic Molalla River Corridor. In addition to river-related activities like rafting and fishing, this city is also known for its famed "Buckeroo Rodeo" that shows off local equestrian skills, beginning in April and ending in September.
It may be hard to find a more diverse and quintessentially Pacific Northwest region than this one. Book a Mt. Hood vacation rental to discover everything this area has to offer.
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