Mt. Hood Loop, Oregon
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
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
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 —
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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"
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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