Mt. Hood is the most iconic volcano in the Oregon section of the Cascades. It is the tallest mountain (11,249′) and the most visible from the Willamette Valley. More than 10,000 climbers a year come to Mt Hood, making it the most visited peak in America. Only 60 miles from Portland, it’s a popular destination for activities all year round. Five ski resorts dot the southern portion of the mountain, including summer skiing on the Palmer Glacier from Timberline Lodge. Mt. Hood Skibowl has a summer adventure park that includes an alpine slide, indy karts, and many more activities for the whole family.
The US Congress designated the Mount Hood Wilderness in 1964 and now has a total of 64,742 acres. With many miles of trails ranging within the Mt Hood Wilderness, including the Timberline Trail that circumnavigates the mountain, we’ll concentrate on the Eastern side of Mt. Hood for trail running. Highway 35 follows the Hood River valley to Highway 26 and gives several trailheads in the area. The snow usually melts in early June, about a month sooner than the trails on the western side. Make sure to scan the snow levels or the Hood River Ranger District to check the trail conditions if there are questions about fire closures if in question.
The 44 Trails Association maintains the mountain bike trails on the 44 trails network and the Trail Keepers of Oregon keep up the other trails around Mt. Hood. The Mt. Hood Chapter of the Pacific Crest Trails Association manages the PCT in the Mt. Hood Wildnerness.
Mt. Hood East Trail Runs
Mountain Bikers know Surveryors Ridge as a key trail of the 44 trails network. The ridge offers mountain views from Jefferson to Ranier.
Gumjawac – Badger Lake – Gunsight Ridge Loop uses some of the trails in the Badger Creek Wilderness, including the Divide Trail and the classic Badger Creek Trail. The highlight is Gunsight Ridge and the Gumjawac Saddle with spectacular vistas of Mt. Hood.
Barlow Pass – Frog Lake Section of the PCT is some of the smoothest trail running found in the area. The trails are very well maintained. Add Twin Lakes, Palameeter, and Frog Lake Buttes Loop for extra mileage.
The Mt. Hood Meadows Loop uses the Elk Meadows, Gnarl Ridge, Umbrella Falls, Sahale Falls, and the classic Timberline trail. There’s no better area on Mt. Hood for summer wildflowers and creek crossings than this route.
Mt. Hood East Trail Races
Two races in the area are named after Wy’east, the Native American Multnomah name for Mt. Hood that occupied the area.
Wy’east Wonder 50 mile and 50k from Go Beyond Racing is mostly a point-to-point race that starts at Bennett Pass and finishes at the Red Barn Park in the Fruit Loop area just south of Hood River. It uses the Surveyors Ridge and Gunsight Ridge trails.
Wy’east Howl 100k, 50k, and half marathon starts and finishes from Mt. Hood Meadows. This race uses trails around Mt. Hood Meadows and Surveyors Ridge and Gunsight Ridge on the two longer races.
X-Dog Events’ Mt. Hood Scramble and Twilight Scramble is more of an adventure than a trail run. Racers experience hills, creeks, rock, dirt, heavy brush, and more from the White River Sno-Park.
Trail Running Group
Wy’east Wolfpack offers group runs throughout the Portland area. The personal training and coaching group also volunteers with aid stations at Wy’east Wonder and Wy’east Howl.
Mt. Hood Roasters in Rhodedendren is a great place to pick up a cup of coffee on the way to the mountain from Portland or if you forgot your coffee in your camping gear.
For those starting a weekend run in Parkdale, stop by Moby Coffee Roasters for a walk-up of organic and fair trade coffee.
Coffee House 26 in Welches is another spot on Highway 26 to grab a Mocha or a breakfast sandwich before heading out on the trails.
Mt. Hood Brewery in Government Camp is the prominent spot to enjoy a beer and brewpub fare with the summer skiers and hikers at the mountain base.
The hidden gem in Parkdale is Solera Brewing. The outdoor patio is a spectacular place to enjoy a view of Mt. Hood’s eastern slopes while chowing down a huge burrito while sipping their signature Hedonist IPA. It’s also near the finish of Wy’east Wonder.
Not a brewpub, but the Ratskeller in Government Camp has been a classic place to grab a cocktail or one on several beers on tap with pizza or a burger.