The Mt. Hood national forest is named after Mt. Hood, Oregon’s tallest peak at 11,250 feet. Called Wy’East by the Multnomah tribe, is known for its glaciers and source to several rivers. The US ski team trains on the mountain in the summer and its rivers provide ample fly fishing opportunities in the area.
The Timberline Lodge, located just below the Palmer Glacier is registered as a national historic landmark and the main meeting point for the Mt. Hood circumnavigation trail know as Timberline Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and several other small trails in the area.
With the new Eliot Branch Crossing, the Timberline trail is over 42 miles long and has around 11,000 feet of climbing. It’s a must for any long-distance adventurer. The best time of year to avoid the snow on the trail is from late June to mid-September. If you go counterclockwise, the last 11 miles are shared with the Pacific Crest Trail.
The Pacific Crest Trail continues southeastward from Timberline Lodge and crosses two highways, OR-35 and US-26, that make great entrances to the trail. Besides the PCT, OR-35 also allows access to several other trails leading to the Timberline Trail. The Frog Lake entrance on US-26 has a parking lot and bathroom that is favored with trail runners.
Around the community of Welches, Northeast on Lolo Pass Road allows trail runners another access to the PCT as well as other feeder trails to the Timberline trail. The opposite direction on Welches Road will lead to the popular Salmon River Trail. This trail is low enough in elevation that it can be run almost any time of year. Loop the Salmon River Trail with Kinzel Lake Trail, Hunchback Mountain Trail, and Green Canyon Way for a fun 15-mile run. Hunchback Mountain Trail can also be reached from Zig Zag Ranger Station.
At Government Camp, the trailhead to Paradise Park Trail and the beloved Paradise Park Trail Loop is located off of Kiwanis Camp Rd. Government Camp also has several other short trails that can be looped with the PCT.
For a shorter run, check out the Mirror Lake Trail which is accessed right off of US-26 just before you hit Government Camp. It’s a 3 mile out and back but has enough climb to make it challenging. If you need a longer run, continue onto Tom, Dick, and Harry Mountain Trail for an additional 6 miles. On the way to Mt. Hood from Portland, you will travel through Sandy. In Sandy, head north on Bluff Rd. to Marcy Street to find Sandy River Park, which has a nice 3-mile loop of the Sandy River Trail and the Jim Slagel trail. Sandy is also home to the 1.5 mile Tickle Creek Trail located on 362nd Dr.
Mirror Lake Trail
Wy’East Wonder- A new 50k and 50-mile race for 2018. The point-to-point race is run mostly on two ridges; Gunsight Ridge and Surveyor’s Ridge on the east side of Mt. Hood.
Mt Hood 50– A weekend celebration of trail running. Almost all of it on the PCT. Saturday features the 50-mile race and Sunday is a 50K and new 25k course. For those willing to do the 50/50, you are rewarded with an artist’s portrait of the course.
Mountain Lakes 100-If you have ever thought of a 100-mile race, this is a great one to start. Awesome views, some elevation but not too extreme for a 100.
Wy’East Howl 5ok- Another new race for 2018. A point to point starting in the Hood River Valley and ending at Mt. Hood Meadows.
Mt. Hood Scramble– An approximate 6-mile challenge through mud, stream crossings, and boulder fields.
Sandy River Run-A fun 5k and 10k run perfectly for new trail runners.
The Mountain Run Challenge at Timberline – A 2.5 and 5 mile run from Timberline Lodge to Silcox Hut, across Palmer and Magic Mile chairlifts down to Timberline Trail to the finish.
Wy’east Challenge– A three-day stage races of 10.5 miles, 12 miles, and 13.5 miles. Camping, food, beer, and yoga included.
Gnar Gnar– Another new race from Go Beyond Racing. This is a true mountain climbing race. This six-mile race covers 2000 feet of climbing to the top of Ski Bowl and back down. Here’s the race report from the inaugural event.
Places to Go
Coffee House 26-Quaint little coffee house to get your engine started.
Post-run Beer and Food
Mt. Hood Brewing– Brewpub with a great deck for sunny afternoons
Skyway Bar & Grill-Hefty burgers, BBQ and beers. Cosy fireplace and live music on weekends.