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Mt. Hood from Hwy 26

Mt. Hood from Hwy 35

Mt. Hood from Trillium Lake

Little Crater Lake

Little Crater Lake

1860s home

Philip Foster Farm

Philip Foster Farm

Winter view from my yard

Winter view from my yard

Winter view from my yard


Mt. Hood Loop, Oregon

www.mthoodterritory.com and www.mthood.info

MAP area: From Troutdale I-84 up through farmland to Hwy. 26 past Sandy up sw side Mt. Hood, East Hwy. 35 to Hood River.

Known to local Indians as Wy ‘East for thousands of years, Mt. Hood was renamed in honor of British Admiral Samuel Hood by Lt. William Broughton, a member of Captain Vancouver’s Columbia River Expedition in 1792. “The hill,” as Mt. Hood is referred to by some locals, is a sleeping volcano that last erupted in the 1790s. Lewis & Clark saw the mountain in1805 and were foiled in exploring a prominent tributary still silted in by the recent eruption. Thus, the Sandy River.

Mt. Hood Loop www.byways.org/explore/byways/61400/
You can do this in a day from Portland, but there’s so much to see and do along this scenic route that you’ll miss outstanding hiking trails, Wild & Scenic Rivers, lakes and waterfalls and geologic wonders like my favorite eerie chillingly stunning Little Crater Lake. [ARCHIVES: A Scruffy Pond] The loop takes you from pastoral farmland through the Villages of Mt. Hood into the Mt. Hood National Forest where ever-changing drop-dead views of the mountain can suddenly appear. The route then spills you out into the pear, cherry and apple orchards of the Hood River Valley. Don’t forget to look behind you to see the lopsided (floppy magician’s hat) side of Mt. Hood. Fair Warning: views contingent on weather. Often, if the mountain is shrouded in mist or rain, the closer you get to Hood River, the more likely you’ll simply drive out of iffy weather into sun.

Highways 26 & 35 traverse much of The Barlow Road, the “last leg” of the Oregon Trail around Mt. Hood to Oregon City. Even though Barlow’s route was called a “road” it was little more than a narrow, rock and dirt trail. As you travel, look into the woods and imagine managing a wagon smaller than most SUVs packed with all your worldly goods, plus horses, cattle, oxen and children through this inhospitable terrain.

It’s amazing to think that after the rough passage around Mt. Hood and the horrific drop skidding down Laurel Hill that many of the pioneer settlers turned around and vacationed on the mountain. Some would pack buckboards and travel three days to get to Welches, Government Camp or Summit Meadows.
[ARCHIVES: Marmot and Oregon’s First Destination Resort]

A Secret Garden — Sandy
A tall wall of evergreen shrubbery hides this special place. Walk through the entrance to a sweet explosion of fragrance and color. Created in 1971 as a sensory garden for the blind, the Gardens of Enchantment are tucked away in a corner of a 23-acre park run by the Oral Hull Foundation for the Blind near Sandy. Although intended for the blind to stimulate the five senses—taste, touch, smell, hearing, and sight—the garden is a charming haven for all. Signs in Braille and large print highlight a self-guided walking tour along paved paths. Nip and taste herbs, fondle foliage from velvety lamb’s ear and leathery leafed viburnum to stickery Oregon grape. Breathe in those heady scents, including chocolate cosmos, or simply sit and listen to cheerful birds.

Alder Creek
The Hidden Woods B&B
If you’ve ever dreamed of snuggling in front of the fireplace in a log cabin hideaway, this is the real deal. Cozy. Comfy. Warm and inviting. Built in the 1920s, this log cabin has not been tarted up into a modern facsimile, but refurbished gently keeping its quaint woodsy authenticity. What’s even better is not cooking your own breakfasts even though the cabin has a full kitchen. You’ll most likely not be fixing lunch either after the breakfast extravaganza owner Coni Scott provides in her striking log home next door. Coni’s attention to detail in every comfort, including your personalized breakfasts, extends to delightful surprises such as a busy birdfeeder (watch for downy, hairy, pileated and even acorn woodpeckers) and seven tiny painted mice hidden throughout the cabin. Sure there’s plenty to see and do in the area, but chances are you’ll be happy staying tucked inside your snug log cabin.

Villages of Mt. Hood
(Brightwood, Welches, Zig Zag, Rhododendron, Government Camp)
We haven’t grown two heads yet, but it’s a wonder since as children my siblings and I floated in the pesticide-ridden ponds at Bowman’s Golf Course plucking out golf balls. You had to swim, because if you put your feet down the silty slimy pond bottoms would cloud up impossibly. Golf was introduced to Billy Welches’ cow pasture in 1928, became Bowman’s in 1948 and now is The Resort at the Mountain. It’s still one of the most beautiful courses in Oregon and still has those ponds, but restored and cleaned up where you often can see mallards and mergansers drifting. In fact, the creek running through the course has salmon returning every year.

If you’re not a golfer, there are nearby hiking trails like the lower Salmon River trail or Wildwood Recreation Area with ADA accessible woodsy riverside trails, fish-viewing windows and wetlands. If you stay at The Resort at the Mountain, you have swimming pools, otherwise there’s a community pool/fitness center at Mt. Hood Village Resort www.rvonthego.com. You’ll find everything you need for fishing, including guides, at The Fly Fishing Shop www.flyfishusa.com, local art, jewelry, books, a business center and Mt. Hood information at Wy ‘East Booke Shoppe www.wyeast-online.com, Andrea’s wine shop www.andreaswinegallery.com and just up the road, Mt. Hood! All this, just an hour from Portland.

Steiner Cabins
Hidden away in the woods and along rivers are cabins of all shapes and sizes. Most coveted are the rustic, whimsical 1920s Steiner log cabins. Luckily, a few are vacation rentals: Kathy’s Kabin www.kathyskabins.net is a Steiner update: log cabin on the outside; remodel on the inside. You’ve still got your cabin in the woods, but details like cute moose motifs and theme rooms such as the “macho” John Wayne, make this hideaway more decorator trendy. You’re as likely to see a moose in these woods as you are John Wayne, but hey, it’s very cabin charming. Laughing Bear www.laughingbearlogcabins.com, and Dancing Bear www.mthoodrent.com, are smaller than the above, but have kept closer to the original intention and authenticity in decor. (Yes, these woods do have black bears.) Dancing Bear is a gem with its delightful kitchen nook overlooking Hackett Creek, but is adjacent to a busy road. Laughing Bear is a bit more eclectic, still has its wonderful wood-burning kitchen stove, two Steiner dining tables, and is tucked in the woods with paths to the Zig Zag River. All cabins have hot tubs, full kitchens, TVs and fireplaces.

Timberline Lodge www.timberlinelodge.com
Mt. Hood is pretty much an icon for Oregon and magnificent Timberline Lodge is a “must visit” destination. At the 6,000-foot elevation on the southwestern slope of the mountain, this 1937 WPA project built of mammoth timbers and native stone is a tribute to the rugged spirit of the Pacific Northwest. Carpenters, craftsmen, artists and artisans worked together to construct and furnish the lodge from its massive 2-story stone fireplace and hand-built furniture to its woven curtains and upholstery, ironwork and original art, Timberline Lodge is an inspired masterpiece. Oh, the views!

Good food here too. I once had a take-away box of ahi tuna and left it on my windowsill to keep cool in my room (hey, it was snowing outside…) until I left for home in the morning. I inadvertently bumped it with my elbow and it slid down the roof to the 12 ft. snow bank below. Sure, I looked in the morning. Alas…No doubt someone found it the following spring.

Silcox Hut
This rustic lodge perched above Timberline Lodge at 7,000 feet must be one of Oregon’s best-kept secrets. Built at the same time as the main lodge, it has the same inspired ironwork, stone and timber construction. Silcox can accommodate groups of 12-24 (bunks). Guests gather around the fireplace in the great room to tell stories or play games while sipping hot cocoa, wine, or hot toddies. A host stays at the hut with you and serves dinners and breakfasts (included) and may provide entertainment (ghost stories? guitar playing?). And the view! Have fun in this unique lodging and don’t worry, as one of the hosts says, “what happens at the hut, stays at the hut.” Fair Warning: No pets, no phones or TVs. Shared baths. An adventure to get there — hike when the weather’s good, take the chairlift up and ski or snowboard down to the hut, or opt for the ride up the mountain in the sno-cat. During winter, snow covers windows.

Here’s a sleepy little hamlet in the middle of Hood River Valley orchards. If you’ve ever driven Hwy. 35 from Hood River toward Mt. Hood or around the eastern flank of Mt. Hood to the Columbia River Gorge, you know what this area looks like. It’s just plum gorgeous. Er, cherry, pear and apple gorgeous. Check out roadside produce stands along the highway and stupendous views of Mt. Hood in its crooked peaked version. Stop here for ice cream or the Elliot Glacier Public House for handcrafted beer and good food while gazing at that stupendous mountain. The small Hutson Museum has Indian artifacts, early settler memorabilia and rocks meaning neat specimens of Oregon geology. There’s plenty to do within a half-hour drive like windsurfing and kite boarding in Hood River or skiing at Mt. Hood Meadows, or a jaunt to Lost Lake to hike, paddle, kayak and canoe. A fun way to explore and perhaps pause for wine tasting along the way is to follow the "Fruit Loop" www.hoodriverfruitloop.com meandering through the valley. Or opt for Mount Hood Railroad excursions from Hood River. (800/872-4661 www.mthoodrr.com.)

Mt Hood B&B www.mthoodbnb.com
What an achingly sweet place this is. Rolling pastures dotted with horses and cattle, sprawling green lawns, a vintage barn and reclaimed sheds, the farmhouse with inviting verandah…and flowers, flowers everywhere. Oh, did I mention the fantastic view of Mt. Hood? This is a real away-from-it-all haven, tucked on the north shoulder of the mountain where fir stands give way to pastoral farmland. Each cozy rustic cabin is lovingly restored with fine attention to detail from homey quilts, comfy furniture and polished wood floors (walls and ceilings too!) to friendly touches like vintage skates and sleds. (Winter does bring snow.) Find a place to relax in the gardens or amuse yourself on the swings. Everything harkens to a more genteel time. I was so taken with the old-fashioned pure spirit of this farm that I almost was surprised there wasn’t laundry hanging on a line nor pies cooling on windowsills. It’s that kind place.

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