Hikes in Mount Hood National Forest
Mount Hood hikes are a spectacular way to experience the pristine Oregon landscape, particularly if you enjoy taking in the views of sprawling forests, imposing mountain peaks, and serene bodies of water. Located just 62 miles east of Portland, Mount Hood National Forest is remote, yet accessible, allowing outdoor enthusiasts the chance to uncover its secrets no matter the time of year.
Established in 1908, Mount Hood National Forest covers an area of approximately 1,067,043 acres - of which 345,300 acres were estimated to be made up of old growth forest back in 1993. The region has an atmosphere of untouched wilderness that is amplified by the many nearby volcanoes, one of which - Mount Hood - gives the national forest its name.
Regardless of if you are planning to set out on one of the many Mount Hood hikes or simply want to drive through the region for its picturesque views, a trip to Mount Hood National Forest is an amazing experience that will not soon be forgotten!
The 10 Best Hiking Routes in Mount Hood National Forest
Mount Hood National Forest is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream destination, as it contains over 1,609.3 km of amazing trails scattered throughout its borders. When it comes to variety, Mount Hood hikes come in all lengths and difficulties, ranging from beginner walks to challenging multi-day adventures. Whether you are a seasoned hiker in the area or are new to exploring the natural beauty of Mount hood National Forest, we’ve put together this list of the 10 best hiking routes in Mount Hood National Forest:
- Tamanawas Falls Trail: This hike is an amazing experience in Mount Hood NF that leads you to a secluded waterfall that cascades over volcanic rock.
- Mirror Lake loop Trail: A serene forest setting, charming lake, and breathtaking views looking out onto Mount Hood characterize this great day hike in Oregon.
- Trillium lake Loop Trail: Another great lakeside hike, the Trillium Lake Loop Trail is the perfect adventure for families that are looking to get out and enjoy nature.
- Bald Mountain from Lolo Pass Hike: A moderate amount of elevation gain and gorgeous views of the imposing peak of Mount Hood make this hike a special one in our books.
- Tamanawas Falls via East Fork Trail: A variation on the Tamanawas Falls Trail listed above, this route features a bit more uphill climbing and passes through a dense woodland setting.
- Serene Lake Trail: As the name implies, this trail leads you through the peaceful forest to an emerald lake surrounded by trees.
- Timothy Lake Loop Hike: A bit of a longer adventure, the Timothy Lake Loop Hike treks through forests, past charming lakes, and provides epic views of Mount Hood.
- Lost Lake Butte Trail: Another fantastic trail that offers stunning views of Mount Hood, the Lost Lake Butte Trail is a great adventure for those times when you only have a few hours.
- Old Salmon River Trail: Although this hike has an atmosphere that feels remote, the trail is actually never further than 30 m from the road, making it ideal for beginners and families who want to experience nature.
- McNeil Point Trail: This challenging hike features a fair amount of elevation gain and a lengthy overall distance, making for a rewarding experience with incredible views of Mount Hood.
When is the Best Time to Hike in Mount Hood National Forest?
The best time to hike in Mount Hood National Forest is during the summer months, when trails are dry and in the best condition; the only downsides to visiting during this window are the increased number of other hikers and the chance of forest fires.
Alternatively, the shoulder seasons of late-spring and early-autumn are great options if you want to avoid the crowds; however, the weather can be more unpredictable and you can even experience snow on the trails.
No matter what time of year you decide to set your sights on completing some Mount Hood hikes, one thing is for sure: the natural beauty of the Oregon landscape will be sure not to disappoint!
Other Outdoor Activities in Mount Hood National Forest
There is no doubting the fact that hiking is the premier outdoor activity on offer in Mount Hood National Forest, but that doesn’t mean that it is the only one! Outside of Mount Hood hikes, other popular activities in Mount Hood National Forest include mountain biking, climbing, camping, and horseback riding, as well as watersports like fishing, swimming, kayaking, and canoeing. There is so much to do and see in Mount Hood National Forest that you might not have enough time to fit it all in!
Fantastic Adventure Tours near Mount Hood National Forest
Want someone else to handle the planning phase of your trip to Mount Hood National Forest? If you are looking to book an adventure tour filled with Mount Hood hikes and leave the hassle of planning to the professionals, be sure to check out our tours near Mount Hood National Forest in the Cascade Range of Oregon.
Frequently Asked Questions About Mount Hood National Forest
What is Mount Hood famous for?
Mount Hood is famous for its iconic namesake peak, which stands at 3,429 m and is considered to be the second most climbed mountain in the world.
Are there bears on Mount Hood?
Yes, black bears can be found in Mount Hood National Forest, so make sure to remain bear aware and exercise all precautions when out on the trail.
Will Mount Hood ever erupt?
Of all of Oregon’s volcanoes, Mount Hood is the most likely to erupt, with a 3-7% chance that it could happen within the next 30 years. Even still, Mount Hood is only considered potentially active and is unofficially considered dormant.
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Best Hikes in Mount Hood National Forest
Serene Lake Trail
The Serene Lake Trail is a wonderfully scenic, albeit buggy, hiking route in Mount Hood National Forest that features a beautiful woodland setting and pristine lake views. While out on the trail, you will climb uphill through the forest, steadily gaining elevation on the way to the shores of Serene Lake that are surrounded by rugged mountains and swathes of trees. Please note that you will need a high clearance vehicle, preferably with 4-wheel drive in order to reach the trailhead, as the road is very rugged.
Timothy Lake Loop Hike
The Timothy Lake Loop Hike is a fun, if lengthy, excursion in Mount Hood National Forest that will showcase some of the stunning views that this part of Oregon has to offer. While out on the trail, you will hike around the shores of Timothy Lake, enjoying views that include the pristine water, surrounding forests, and nearby Mount Hood. The trail can be a bit tough to follow in certain areas, so be sure to bring a trail map or the 10Adventures trail app to stay on the right path.
Lost Lake Butte Trail
Hiking the Lost Lake Butte Trail is an amazing outdoor excursion in Mount Hood National Forest that features easy to navigate terrain and breathtaking views. While out on the trail, you will leave the shores of Lost Lake behind, climbing up the forested slopes of Lost Lake Butte to reach a lookout with gorgeous views looking out onto Mount Hood. Hikers should take note that you will need to pay a day use fee, as the trailhead is maintained by the Lost Lake Resort.
Old Salmon River Trail
The Old Salmon River Trail is a fantastic family-friendly hiking route in Mount Hood National Forest that features lovely riverside views. While out on the trail, you will hike parallel to the rushing waters of the Salmon River, enjoying some classic Pacific Northwest scenery along the way. With several campsites along the trail, this route is perfectly suited to a fun weekend of camping outdoors.
McNeil Point Trail
The McNeil Point Trail is a challenging excursion in Mount Hood National Forest that features steep terrain and breathtaking views of Mount Hood itself. While out on the trail, you will work your way through the forest and along Bald Mountain Ridge, before arriving at the McNeil Point Rock Shelter for an in-your-face view of Mount Hood. Hikers should take note that this is a tough hiking route, so make sure to wear proper hiking boots and bring plenty of water/snacks to stay fueled.
Lost Lake Loop Hike
The Lost Lake Loop Hike is a fantastic outdoor adventure in Mount Hood National Forest that will take you around the shoreline of a peaceful body of water. While out on the trail, you will meander through a beautiful woodland landscape and experience wonderful views that stretch out across the calm surface of Lost Lake. Hikers should take note that this is a dog-friendly trail, although canine companions must be kept on a leash at all times.
Bald Butte Trail
The Bald Butte Trail is a wonderful outdoor adventure that showcases some of the exceptional terrain and beautiful views within Mount Hood National Forest. While out on the trail, you will climb uphill through the forest landscape and traverse Surveyors Ridge, before pushing up to the summit of Bald Butte for views of Mount Hood. Hikers should take note that, while this trail is accessible year-round, you will need snowshoes in order to safely traverse it during the winter months.
Umbrella and Sahale Falls Hike
The Umbrella and Sahale Falls Hike is the perfect adventure in Mount Hood National Park for those who enjoy scenic waterfall views. While out on the trail, you will make your way along the forested path to quickly arrive at the site of Umbrella Falls, before continuing on to the southeast to Sahale Falls. Hikers should take note that there is an unofficial trail leading down to the base of Sahale Falls; however, this is very steep and should only be undertaken at your own risk and with extreme caution.
Little Zig Zag Falls Hike
The Little Zig Zag Falls Hike is a quick adventure in Oregon that will take you to a charming waterfall set within Mount Hood National Forest. While out on the trail, you will follow along a well-maintained path that runs parallel to a creek, before arriving at the viewpoint overlooking a stunning cascade. This hiking route has also been restored to be more wheelchair accessible, making it a great option that can be enjoyed with family and friends, no matter their age or skill level.
Tilly Jane Trail
The Tilly Jane Trail is a challenging hiking route in Mount Hood National Forest that climbs uphill through woodlands and meadows, offering pleasant views of the surrounding landscape. While out on the trail, you will navigate a dense section of forest and some peaceful meadows, before climbing uphill through an area previously ravaged by wildfires in order to reach the Tilly Jane Campground. As a result of wildfires in the area, much of this trail is exposed; be sure to bring plenty of water and adequate protection from the sun.
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