Spectacular Oregon Road Trip: Mt. Hood-Columbia River Gorge Loop

Multopor Fen Preserve, OregonOregon's Mt. Hood Territory/Larry GeddisThe waters in Multopor Fen Preserve in Oregon's Mt. Hood territory provide serene reflections of Mt. Hood.

Route Details

Length: About 200 miles.

When to go: Popular year-round.

Words to the wise: Roads are sometimes
closed in winter because of fallen trees
and ice- and snowstorms.

Nearby attractions: Hood River and
Flerchinger vineyards and Pheasant Valley
Winery, Hood River. Washington Garden,
rose and Japanese gardens, Portland.

Further information: Oregon’s Mt.
Hood Territory, 65000 E. Hwy. 26, Welches,
OR 970 67, 888-622-4822, www.mthoodterritory.com

Print a map of this route.

Few landscapes can equal the magnificence
and variety of the one encircling
Mt. Hood. Mountaintops under
a continuous cover of snow, verdant
forests laced with rushing streams and
waterfalls, fertile farmlands, and the
awesome gorge of one of America’s
great rivers — these are among the
treasures waiting to be discovered here.

1. Sandy
Miles of farmland skirt Rte. 26 on
the drive up to the town of Sandy,
where visitors can tour historic
sites and swim in the close-by
Sandy River. As the highway continues
to the east, the landscape
changes rapidly, with the foothills
of the Cascade Range beginning
their relentless ascent. Towering
Douglas firs, some of them centuries
old, cover the slopes.
Soon the Salmon River briefly
comes into view, running to the
Sandy River.

2. Wildwood Recreation Area
Situated on the banks of the
Salmon River, picturesque Wildwood
is one of many places to
pause and sample the countryside.
Take advantage of its picnic
areas and hiking trails or, in the
spring and fall, join the anglers
who come in pursuit of trout and
salmon. Visit Streamwatch, an
underwater viewing port that lets
you see life inside the river from
a unique angle.

3. Mt. Hood National Forest
The splendors of nature are the star attractions
throughout Mt. Hood National
Forest. Encompassing more than
a million acres, the wilderness is
best known for its namesake,
majestic Mt. Hood. The highest
point in Oregon at 11,235 feet,
the mountain’s conical dome is a
dormant volcano that hasn’t had
a major eruption for probably a
thousand years or more. Its treeless upper slopes are
blanketed with immense glaciers that
glisten in the sunlight.

Between mile markers 45 and
46, past Rhododendron, note the
reconstruction of the West Barlow
tollgate. It marks a portal of the
historic Barlow Road Drive extending
from Mt. Hood to Oregon
City. Blazed in 1845, this overland
route was a lifesaver to pioneers
heading west on the Oregon
Trail; before the trail was opened,
they had to convert their covered
wagons into rafts and float down
the risky and tumultuous Columbia
River rapids.

4. Laurel Hill
Laurel Hill — its steep slopes are a
challenge just to walk on, let alone
descend in a covered wagon — was
the last major obstacle faced by
pioneers traveling toward the valleys
and coasts to the west. In a
task that could take days, the can do
pioneers used ropes to slowly
lower their wagons down the hill.

5. Timberline Lodge
A six-mile turnoff climbs past vast
forests and seasonal waterfalls to
Timberline Lodge, a masterpiece
of craftsmanship built by the WPA
during the Great Depression.
Constructed of stone and timber,
the hotel is filled with handsome
details, including huge fireplaces
and fine examples of woodworking.
Outside, alpine gardens thrive
in the warmer months. You can
also explore the surrounding
countryside on a network of hiking
trails. For a bird’s-eye
view, sightseers can ride the mile-long
chairlift that traverses the
upper reaches of Mt. Hood.

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