Towering at 11,249 feet tall, Mount Hood, with its endlessly snow-capped peak, is truly iconic throughout the state of Oregon and the entire Pacific Northwest. With plenty of lakes, waterfalls, and stunning views, it’s no surprise there are a ton of awesome trails to enjoy around this behemoth, which holds the title for the tallest mountain in Oregon.
If you’re looking for an epic alpine escape, here’s four of the very best Mount Hood hikes to explore.
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When to Explore Mount Hood Hikes
Mount Hood is, in part, considered one of the 7 wonders of Oregon, thanks to its towering elevation. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that most of the mountain is covered in snow from around November through May- in fact, the historic Timberline Lodge famously offers the longest ski season in the country due to the massive amount of snow Hood receives!
As such, for snow-free trails, Mount Hood is generally best explored on foot in the summer and the early fall months. That being said, come winter, many of its trails are perfect for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing adventures.
Best Mount Hood Hikes
Before we dive in, all of the hikes listed below require a Northwest Forest Pass, a $30 annual pass to park at trailheads on land managed by the National Forest System in Oregon and Washington state.
Alternatively, all of these trails are covered by the America the Beautiful Pass, which is an $80 annual pass that covers day use fees at National Forests, as well as National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges. Quite a deal, in my opinion!
Note that some Oregon parking lots, including Trillium Lake and the Mirror Lake trailhead, require a Sno-Park permit from November through April. You can find out additional information about these permits here.
1. Tom, Dick, and Harry Mountain
Length: 9.0 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,709 ft
Located: Government Camp, OR
Day use fee? Northwest Forest Pass
Tom, Dick, and Harry Mountain is the first hike I ever did in this area and, with its jaw-dropping views of Mount Hood, it will always hold a special place in my heart.
If you complete this entire trail, you’ll summit the eponymous mountain with three distinct crags (yes- named “Tom”, “Dick”, and “Harry”). However, the majority of visitors just hike the trail’s first two miles, which snakes through a forest and loops around the aptly-named Mirror Lake.
On still mornings, this lake offers the perfect reflection of Mount Hood’s snow-capped peak soaring overhead. There’s a primitive campground flanking the right side of the lake, which would be an awesome option for beginner backpackers and an absolutely dreamy place to spend the night under the stars.
However, you can continue on past Mirror Lake and start climbing your way up the back of Tom, Dick, and Harry Mountain. As you climb, you’ll be offered stunning views of the surrounding Cascade Mountains and the endless pine trees blanketing their slopes.
A little over three miles into the trail, you’ll reach a ridgeline, where the elevation gain will ease up a bit. Here, you’ll snake your way through an alpine forest, with lots of fat blueberries to snack on in the summertime.
After about a mile, you’ll reach a giant pile of scree you’ll need to scramble up. At the top of this pile, you have officially summited “Harry” (congrats!) and will be afforded those breathtaking vistas of Mount Hood and the glassy waters of Mirror Lake below.
I’ve hiked this trail a couple of times- while the Mirror Lake portion is seemingly always crowded with families, the upper Tom, Dick, and Harry Mountain section seems to fly under the radar a bit, especially considering how epic the views are. It’s one of my absolute all time favorite hikes and is not to be missed while you’re in the area!
2. Trillium Lake
Length: 1.9 miles
Elevation gain: 26 feet
Located: Government Camp
Looking for something a bit more family-friendly? This easy trail loops through the pine tree forests and marshy wetlands around Trillium Lake, offering peekaboo glimpses of Mount Hood and its reflections in the waters below. Note that a portion of the loop is closed through autumn of 2022 as they repair a very old and broken boardwalk over one of its bogs.
While the trail itself is pretty short, you could spend a whole day having outdoor adventures around Trillium Lake, including paddleboarding, canoeing, or kayaking. You can either rent your watercraft of choice from Mt. Hood Outfitters or, alternatively, bring your own.
My husband, Justin, and I have this inflatable Intex Explorer K2 kayak for just these kinds of occasions and love it (pssst… if you’re worried about the durability of an inflatable kayak, check out our review of the Intex Explorer K2 kayak– we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!).
If water sports aren’t your jam, there’s also a handful of small beaches sprinkled around the lake that are absolutely perfect for a picnic. And to keep the lakeside fun a-going, there’s even a developed campground along the shoreline, with a mix of first-come, first-serve and reservable sites (which book up way, WAY in advance).
In the wintertime, Trillium Lake is a popular place to snowshoe or cross-country ski. As the trail simply loops around the lake, it’s the perfect place for beginners to try their hand at winter sports, given it’s practically impossible to get lost here!
3. Tamanawas Falls
Length: 3.4 miles
Elevation gain: 580 feet
Located: Mount Hood
Tip: the trailhead can be a popular spot for car break-ins, given that the parking area is right along a highway. Don’t leave anything of value in your car!
This hike is a bit further from the Portland area, but if you’re visiting from Hood River, it’s just a short, half hour drive away.
Unlike the other hikes on this list, you actually won’t get any views of Mount Hood itself, but instead, a dramatic waterfall, cascading 110-feet over a basalt cliff. Along the way, you’ll pass rushing brooks, vibrant wildflowers, and even some fun rock scrambles- it’s got a little something for everyone!
At the end of the trail, the view of the falls is quite stunning- and you can actually even hike behind them. The rocky pathway, to the right of the stream from the waterfalls’ flow, will take you directly behind the falls’ curtain- just be prepared to get wet!
Word to the wise- this hike can get PACKED. This should be no surprise- this is one of the best waterfall hikes in Oregon! If you’re trying to avoid the crowds, though, consider visiting in winter, when you can snowshoe to get a view of the frozen waterfalls’ enormous icicles.
4. Ramona Falls
Length: 7.1 miles
Elevation gain: 1,066 feet
Tip: To reach the trailhead, you’ll need to drive over seven miles on a very potholed National Forest road. While we saw some standard sedans in the parking lot, I’d recommend driving here with a high clearance vehicle or with a driver who is a wizard at navigating gnarly roads.
The Ramona Falls hike is one of those trails where it’s hard to pick whether the journey or the destination is better.
Along this lollipop loop, you’ll get stunning glimpses of Mount Hood; wander through a fairytale forest, full of shockingly pink rhododendron plants; and ford across glacial rivers. At the end, you’ll be at the foot of an absolutely stunning waterfall, with countless streams cascading 120-feet down a rocky cliffside.
One of the most interesting aspects of this hike is that a bridge, crossing the Sandy River along the trail, was washed out in 2014. The bridge has never been rebuilt and now, depending on the year, there’s usually a log to help hikers cross or sometimes, you’ll simply need to wade through the icy, rushing river.
For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend the Ramona Falls hike for folks with small children that are too large for baby carrier backpacks or dogs that are not particularly adept at obstacles- we saw a woman try to unsuccessfully scoot her way across the log while clutching on to her terrified dog- it didn’t look pleasant (or safe) for anyone involved.
On a similar note, because this hike is at a lower elevation (just 3,500 feet), the trail is usually snow-free a bit earlier than some other Mount Hood hikes. That being said, the river can be unusually high during the early spring due to glacial runoff and it may be difficult- or even dangerous- to cross.
So be sure to wear waterproof boots on this one (I have these and Justin has these) and it may be best to wait until the late portion of the spring or summer before giving this one a go. There’s lots of other hikes in Mount Hood to be enjoyed in the meantime!
Tips for Mount Hood Hikes
- It can get crowded. One of the incredible things about exploring Mount Hood is that it’s conveniently located a little over an hour east of Portland, an hour south of Hood River, or just three and a half hours from Seattle. But because of its proximity to so many cities, parking lots tend to fill up early and hikes can get quite crowded.
So if you’re looking for solitude in nature, I’d recommend starting really early (like, sunrise early) or visiting on a weekday, when you’re more likely to get the trail all to yourself.
- Come prepared. Make sure to bring along the following essentials for your hike:
- Sunscreen: Especially at higher elevations, the sun can be surprisingly intense.
- Bug spray: In the summer months, some of these trails are flooded with straight-up psycho mosquitoes. Come prepared to do battle with these little suckers.
- Water: Between the high elevation and all that cardio, bring along plenty of water to stay hydrated. We swear by these giant reusable Nalgene bottles, which both cut down on plastic waste and are kinder to our wallets than single-use water bottles.
- Follow the Leave No Trace principles. Speaking of being prepared, familiarize yourself with and follow the Leave No Trace principles. Most of them are hopefully common sense stuff, like pick up after yourself and your dog, don’t antagonize wildlife, and don’t start fires where you shouldn’t, but we somehow always manage to see people disrespecting the trails pretty much every time we go hiking!
Where to Stay Near Mount Hood
With so many beautiful trails to be explored, Mount Hood would be the perfect place for a weekend getaway.
If you’re interested in camping, there’s a number of campgrounds in the area, including Trillium Lake, Lost Lake, Sherwood, and Nottingham Campgrounds. As noted above, these frequently book out several months in advance, especially on weekends, so try to snag your campsite early!
Alternatively, there’s plenty of cozy hotels and lodges to make your home base. Consider:
- Old Parkdale Inn: This bed and breakfast offers incredible views of Mount Hood, homemade hot breakfast, and a very sweet resident pup named Lola.
- Timberline Lodge: Constructed in 1937, this lodge is somewhat of an iconic landmark on Hood. Beyond the beautiful structure, it offers a variety of amenities to help relaxing when you’re not off exploring Mount Hood, like a heated pool that’s open year round and outdoor hot tub.
I hope you love getting out on these Mount Hood hikes as much as I do! Do you have any questions about these trails? Did I miss any of your favorites? Let me know in the comments below!