We absolutely LOVED Mt Hood, Oregon’s tallest peak. What a peaceful, beautiful place! How could you not love chilling on an 11,245-foot snow-covered stratovolcano in the stunning PNW region of the country?!
We could’ve stayed for hours and hours, even all night to camp which can be done in many, many campgrounds in the area at the base, but also actually ON the mountain, which is done in a walk-in, no cost, primitive manor. Very cool! I can only imagine the sunrises and sunsets from this vantage point!
The drive to the top of the mountain is roughly 30 minutes. The road is winding, but clearly paved the entire way, and has some guard rails. Not nearly as dangerous as some other mountain roads, but still watch your speed, especially on curves, and I would not recommend driving them in the dark. I mean, you are on a cliff after all. Some may feel the elevation change as you rise, but all will feel their ears pop. Gum can’t hurt.
Mt Hood is home to 12 glaciers, the most visited being Palmer Glacier, which is at a 3,690 vertical ft slope. I can safely assume its popularity is because of its proximity to Timberline Lodge, the only ski lodge in the US open all 12 months of the year!
The Lodge may look a bit familiar to you as it’s in the opening scenes of ’The Shining’! Creepy cool! Those not interested in actually getting on the mount can just head up the road by plugging the address of the lodge into your GPS. From there you can take photos and visit the lodge. Even that I feel is worth the trek up.
Palmer Glacier is where we personally headed up the mountain on foot, and where you can catch the ski lift in the summer and springs seasons IF you arrive before 2 pm. In the winter and fall, you can grab a snowcat up to the top. We didn’t catch the lift and my little girl ages 6 & 8 at the time found hiking to be easy, but we didn’t rise above 2 1/2-3 miles or so. It was the point at which we felt safest, and the maximum height I would recommend with littles. We visited in the summer and the kiddos just LOVED playing in the snow in July! What a trip! Definitely worth a visit with kiddos to have a snowball fight up there especially if you’re traveling here during warm months! Don’t tell them what’s in store for them and blow their minds! Bring closed toes shoes….obviously.
While you can ski and snowboard all year round on Mt Hood, there couldn’t have been more signs warning of the dangers. I believe you have to sign a waiver, actually. What looks like such a calm place is actually quite dangerous. Over 10,000 climbers a year, especially in the spring attempt to summit the mount. Many do not make it. Approximately 10 a year die from various injuries on Mt Hood. Hogsback and Zig Zag are perhaps the most deadly trails.
Spring is the most popular time for climbing as the snow is melting, but the ice still falls. Mt. Hood is famous for falling rocks. Shortly after we visited two young girls who were setting up to camp fell over 100 ft to their death and they weren’t even participating in snow sports. Please be careful!!
We highly recommend a visit here! It’s so close to Portland it’s ridiculous! It was definitely a highlight on our month-long road trip for my girls! You can choose a few hours or days! Winter sports or not…It’s still an amazing place to see with your own eyes. From the top, you even can look over at the peak of Mt St Helen’s volcano. Hubs and I actually just watched a documentary on Amazon Prime about the most recent eruption of Mt St Helens! The destruction is almost unbelievable!
You can also experience a pretty gorgeous (cold) waterfall on your right hand side headed back down 28 after leaving Mt Hood. Splash, but hold onto the real wee ones as there’s a bit of an undertow. It’s pretty manageable though.
Stay cool! XOX, Sar