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  • Writer's pictureNicole Rosales

Oregon Road Trip: One Night at Mt. Hood National Forest

There are several reasons to visit the Pacific Northwest, you get a blend of city life, coast life, and mountain life. Luckily, we had enough time to fit all three during our visit, driving in from Cannon Beach through Portland to Mt. Hood. It was a great opportunity to hit play on my road trip soundtrack and enjoy the scenery.

Here's how we spent a full day at Mt. Hood with an overnight stay.

Road Trip in Oregon, Mt Hood National Park
Misty day at Trillium Lake at Mt. Hood.
How To Get To Mt. Hood From Portland

The drive from the city is around two and a half hours by car taking US-26 east, and as I mentioned in my Cannon Beach post, we had a rental via Turo. There's tons of greenery and cute small towns you pass through, definitely something you want to soak in.

But if want to ditch driving a together, you can take a shuttle bus. Find more details here.

Where To Stay

If you have the funds to stay in the park— go for it. It makes everything much more convenient. There are several types of lodging you can choose from, too. From mom-and-pop style stays on the town strip, to Best Western and Timberline Lodge (roughly $175- 310 per night), made famous by The Shining, as the exteriors were shot for the film. It would be a great spot for any Stephen King fan or horror movie enthusiast.

We decided to book a quaint, two-story cabin via Airbnb in Government Camp, it was $147 a night, but split, it was around $75. It had two bedrooms but could comfortably fit five people. Snag few more friends and you can save tons. The cabin was right off the main strip so it was within walking distance to all the restaurants, the general store, and the information center.

Trillium Lake

The loop around Trillum Lake is considered an easy hike and great for families since the trail is fairly level and the distance is only two miles. However, depending on the time of year such as the winter or spring when the snow is still melting, the main gate for cars to enter may be closed. This is what happened during our visit. We had to walk two additional miles to get to the trailhead, not a big deal but something to be aware of.

Since it was my first time at Mt. Hood, I wasn’t sure what to expect. So, I did a little digging! I came across a handy site called It provided photos of trail conditions as well as reviews from fellow hikers, making it super easy to navigate! Moving forward, this will be a great source!

Difficulty: Easy Time: 1 hour (one way) Distance: 2 miles (one loop)

Once we made it to the lake, I was bummed I couldn't see the actual mountain, just fog. But it was still beautiful! We walked to the dock and sat on the bench to have a quick bite. There weren’t a lot of hikers so was quiet— only a couple of fishermen nearby.

The walk to the lake also uncovered some interesting finds, like a cemetery. Yep, you read that right. An old, tiny cemetery was sectioned off with a white picket fence by a couple of isolated cabins. It was hard to make out the dates but I believe the headstones were marked from the 1800s. You can get a virtual, 360 view here.

After the short hike, we grabbed lunch at the Huckleberry Inn, it's a family-owned business known for its pastries like oversized donuts that barely fit on the plate. It's your typical mountain diner. Friendly folks and hearty meals, enough to put you in a food coma. We also visited Rapscallion Pizza and Grill --great pizza. It was enough to last a couple of meals!

We took some to enjoy our cabin then it was off for the next hike to Tamanawas Falls Trail.

Tamanawas Falls Trail

We wanted something a bit more challenging--and with a waterfall. Tamanawas Falls looked perfect!

This trailhead is deeper into the national forest, about 17 miles or 20-ish minutes away from Government Camp. What was strange was how vastly different the weather was here. Where we were, it had been raining on and off all day with fog. But once we headed east, it was like we hit a bubble! All of a sudden, we had blue skies and sunshine. That's why wearing layers matters! Mountain weather can be tricky!

When it comes to parking, you’re “required” a parking pass. It’s only five bucks but we didn't have one so we pressed our luck with parking across the street.

When you enter the trailhead, you have to cross over a rickety bridge sitting on top of a massive tree. You can't help but stop to take photos.

The hike began with a slow incline. The trail is also pretty narrow with a steep drop so take your time.

We followed the river up through all the twists and turns but once we got to the scene below--I questioned my ability momentarily. The path was covered with massive rocks. We just had to be a little more careful climbing up, not easy but doable.

As I mentioned in my previous post and in my Banff National Park post, good hiking boots are worth investing in. At this point, you're more than halfway to the waterfall. You'll hit a few more curves with steep drops so if others are needing to pass, make sure you leave some extra space. Due to the time of year and day, we didn't see a lot of foot traffic.

Once you hit the end, you're met with this gorgeous waterfall. It was around 6 p.m. and the light was diffused making the area seem almost dream-like. I mean look at that!

Difficulty - Moderate Time: 2 hours (one way) Distance: 3.4 miles

After the second hike, we went to the general store, grabbed some firewood, and make a cozy fire at the cabin. It was a great way to end a long day of hiking and got much-needed rest!

If you have any recommendations for other trails to check out or places to eat, let me know! I would love to spend a few days here the next time around, perhaps in the early summer to avoid the rain!


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