Just outside of Portland, Mt. Hood stands at a majestic 11,249 feet (3,429 meters), making it Oregon’s tallest mountain. The dormant volcano often has steam rising from its fumaroles, adding to the serenity of the surrounding vista. Adventure-seekers who opt to climb the mountain all the way to its summit are rewarded with 12 glaciers at the peak—plus stunning views of the Cascade mountain range, and the valleys and cities below.
Mt. Hood offers a range of activities, including hiking, fishing, camping, and skiing. There are more than 1,200 miles (1,931 kilometers) of hiking trails in Mt. Hood National Forest, with options ranging from beginner to expert. You can also discover waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge, and experience the region’s lakes, woodland, and wildlife. The most famous of all the lodges on Mt. Hood is the Timberline Lodge, a National Historic Landmark that’s home to the only year-round ski season in North America—and whose exterior was made famous as the notorious hotel in the 1980 film The Shining.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Mt. Hood is well suited for outdoorsy travelers.
- Pack water, sunscreen, and comfortable walking shoes for your visit.
- Mt. Hood National Forest extends south from the Columbia River Gorge across more than 60 miles (97 kilometers) of forested mountains, lakes, and streams to Olallie Scenic Area—a high lake basin under the slopes of Mt. Jefferson.
- There are six ski areas on Mt. Hood, one of which (Timberline Lodge) has lift service year-round.
How to Get There
Mt. Hood is located about 50 miles (81 kilometers) east of most downtown Portland hotels. Shuttle buses make the journey, but the most efficient way to travel there is by car. Driving to Timberline Lodge from Portland takes a bit fewer than two hours.
When to Get There
Mt. Hood has something to offer outdoors aficionados at all times of the year. While skiing and snowboarding at Timberline Lodge are certainly better in the winter, it’s fun to hit the slopes during the summer months, too. For mountain climbers, April through mid-June are generally regarded as the safest times to make the ascent up Mt. Hood, as there is less chance of an avalanche or a rockfall. The historic Columbia River and Hood River are great places to swim, hike, and windsurf in summer.
Summiting Mt. Hood
Mt. Hood is the second-most climbed mountain in the world, with over 10,000 people summiting each year. This adventure is not for the faint of heart (or the poorly prepared)—even the “easiest” climb from Timberline Lodge is still very technical, and crampons, ice axes, ropes, and climbing gear are necessary year-round. Typically the round-trip climb takes eight to 10 hours.