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Things To Do On Mt. Hood & How To Get There | Driving from Portland to Mt. Hood

Mt Hood Portland Air Tours

Things To Do On Mt. Hood & How To Get There | Driving from Portland to Mt. Hood

When people think about the scenic parts of Oregon, it’s safe to say that the Oregon Coast, Multnomah Falls, and Mt. Hood come up in most of those conversations. And for good reason really. They’re all very scenic, visitor friendly, and the Instagram hashtags love them. I mean, how can you not love these places? Especially Mt. Hood. If you fly to Portland, Oregon, whether for a visit or returning home, a lot of times the flight path into PDX, specifically from the east, takes you right past Oregon’s tallest mountain peak. And it’s always a head turner. Many times the pilot will get on the PA and tell everyone to “look out the left side of the airplane” for a great view a snow capped mountain. It’s so gorgeous that when President Barack Obama flew into Portland, someone aboard Air Force One snapped a picture of the left wing of the famous Presidential aircraft and Mt. Hood in the background. For Portlanders, we love this mountain, and with a ton of stuff to do on the way there, this guide will help you find the best stops along the way!

How to Get to Mt. Hood from Portland

Mt. Hood as seen from Air Force One

These are the best routes to Mt. Hood & Top Things to Do Along the Way

Driving to Mt. Hood Through The Columbia River Gorge & Hood River (most scenic route)

Getting to Mt. Hood On Highway 26 (fastest route)

Driving to Mt.Hood Through The Columbia River Gorge from Portland


The fastest way to Mt. Hood from Portland is not necessarily the best way. In fact, we’d argue it’s a terrible way. If you have a good amount of time on your hands, we’d highly suggest taking the most scenic way with stops along the way. You may as well plan a full day, because this route is packed with viewpoints, stops, hikes, and so many memories waiting to be made during your trip to Mt. Hood!


Main Points of Interest (Driving from Portland to Mt. Hood through the Columbia River Gorge)

Multnomah Falls

A visit to Northwest Oregon isn’t complete without a visit to Multnomah Falls. One of the most visited locations when visiting Portland, this gorgeous waterfalls nestled in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge is great for a quick stop, a drive-by, or a couple hour visit complete with a hike to the top or beyond!

Multnomah Falls Air Tours

Tours of Multnomah Falls in Oregon

Starvation Creek Falls

Starvation Creek Falls in the Columbia River Gorge is a great little stop during your travels. A short hike to the impressive waterfall will lead to a nice little spot for a picnic or just a quick stop for a refreshing moment in nature. There is longer hikes in the area, some of which lead to other, smaller waterfalls, but some of the trails can be pretty intense and not too family friendly. But if you’re looking for a nice picture in front of a very uncrowded waterfall, this would be the spot to stop.

Things to do in portland

Hood River, Oregon

Hood River, Oregon is an awesome visit for the day, overnight, or a stop for lunch. If you stay the night, stay at the Columbia Gorge Hotel. If you want to grab lunch, go to downtown Hood River and pick one of the many excellent restaurants! On your way from Hood River to Mt. Hood, take the famous “Fruit Loop” route and visit the different orchards and vineyards the Hood River Valley has to offer!

portland to hood river

Tamanawas Falls

When heading south on Highway 35 toward Mt. Hood, on the right hand side is a parking lot which is where the trail to Tamanawas Falls starts. This relatively easy trail is a family friendly walking path following a riverside through forests, crossing bridges, through a boulder fields, finally reaching the waterfall that cascades over a “lava cliff” over 100 feet. At almost 3 1/2 miles roundtrip, this hike is definitely worth a stop and a visit.

a waterfall in a forest


The Fastest Way to Mt. Hood from Portland

If you’re somewhat limited on time, driving from Portland to Mt. Hood is quickest by driving Interstate 84 to Troutdale, driving through Gresham to connect to Highway 26 and drive directly to Mt. Hood. There’s not as much stuff to do along the way, but the stops you can make are definitely worth your time.

Main Points of Interest (The Fastest Way to Mt. Hood from Portland)

Salmon River Trail

The Salmon River Trail is a nice walk along the Salmon River through dense forests that feel a little bit like Lord of the Rings or Star Wars where the Ewoks live. There isn’t really a destination on this trail and the trail continues on for seemingly forever, so you can go for as long as you’d like. It can get busy, especially on a nice, day, but even then, people are spread out along the trail and it never feels crowded.

hiking by portland oregon

Mt. Hood SkiBowl

The nice things about Mt. Hood is it’s a hub for year round recreation and SkiBowl is at the center of that fun! During the winter, SkiBowl is well known for having the “most night skiing terrain in North America”. There is also snow tubing and cosmic snow tubing during the winter. During the summer there is the Alpine Slide and it is the Pacific Northwest’s “only 1/2 mile Dual Alpine Slide.” Nearby is also the trailhead to Mirror Lake which offers some breathtaking views of Mt. Hood reflecting on the lake. Well worth the hike!

things to do in portland

Timberline Lodge

Timberline Lodge was built in the 1930s and dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937. At 6,000 feet, the lodge sits on the south side of Mt. Hood and features year-round skiing with an gorgeous mountain landscape to enjoy all year and serves as one of the three primary ski resorts on Mt. Hood. Beyond just skiing and snowboarding, you can also enjoy nice meals in the lodge, a breakfast buffet, and stay the night!

timberline lodge mt hood oregon

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the best time of year to go?

Because Mt. Hood is pretty accessible, it’s a great place to visit almost any time of year. If you choose to visit in the winter, definitely be prepared for winter weather conditions as they can deteriorate quickly. Highway 26 is a main passage between Western Oregon and Central Oregon, so the highway department does a really good job at maintaining it, but even with that, the weather can make it tricky.

In the summertime, everything is very easy to access, but if you plan on a hike, definitely come prepared with water, bug spray, sunscreen, and layers of clothing just in case.

Portland Air Tours


Is Mt. Hood worth visiting?

Absolutely. There is so much to do on the mountain, and people flock there year-round to explore the natural beauty of the surrounding forest, rivers, trails, campgrounds, and adventure parks. A drive up to Timberline Lodge is well worth the visit to sit and relax and soak in the crisp, clean mountain air.

Why would I drive to Mt. Hood?

Well, there’s not many other options. There are some shuttle services, but driving is definitely the most efficient way to get there. If you don’t have a lot of time but want to see Mt. Hood up close, then flying around the mountain with Envi Adventures is a perfect way to check it all out!