The small northern Oregon town of Hood River is full of outdoor enthusiasts. Located on the Columbia River and within 30 minutes of the mountains, Hood River is full of adventures for locals and visitors.
Hood River Hiking:
If you head across the gorge into Washington, you will find an incredible hike called Dog Mountain. This seven-mile loop trails brings you 2,800 feet above the gorge and gives incredible views of Mount Hood and the Columbia River below.
The hike begins in a small dirt parking lot off of the main highway. The first portion of the hike features a series of steep switchbacks that weave through the dense trees. The trail opens up about halfway to the top in a spot locals like to call “Puppy Lookout.” From here you have quite the view of the river and surrounding Oregon land. In the spring months, you can even spot a couple of waterfalls cascading down the Oregon mountains across the gorge.
If you want to keep heading up to the peak, continue on the same trail. This section of the climb is a lot more open. Although you may be distracted by the views, be sure to watch your footing. The mountain experiences some pretty strong winds year around so be aware of your surroundings.
Once you reach the top of the mountain there are a couple nice rocks and logs to sit on and rest before your descent. If you are interested in doing an overnight up here that is an option but be sure to bring warm clothes to combat the wind chill!
Hood River Windsurfing:
Hood River is frequently referred to as the windsurfing capital of the world. The area is known for its high winds on the river. The city has even built a protected area of the harbor specifically for learning how to windsurf called “The Hook.”
If you have never tried windsurfing there are a couple of locations in town such as Big Winds Hood River and Brian’s Windsurfing where you can sign up for lessons. Both stores also offer rentals if you are a windsurfer just passing through that needs gear.
For more experienced windsurfers, head out on the Columbia River, Hood River, and Cascade Locks. With a combination of perfect winds and incredible views, it is safe to say you will not be disappointed.
Hood River Skiing/Snowboarding:
In the winter and spring, Hood River is crowded with locals and tourists trying to hit the slopes. Mount Hood Meadows, the local snowboarding, and skiing mountain is a measly 30-minute drive from town. The mountain offers ski and snowboarding lessons for newbies and a variety of routes for more advanced riders. The trails cover the majority of the mountain from a 9,000 feet summit route to bunny slopes for the kids.
If you aren’t into the snow shredding like everyone else, visiting one of the mountains snow parks is also an option. You can buy day passes at the Mount Hood Meadows front desk for $5 and head over while the rest of your group is on the slopes. The snow parks are popular areas for sledding, snowman making, and snowball fights. Many of them also have snowshoeing trails that lead from the parking lots into the forest.
Hood River Mountain Biking:
One of the best mountain biking locations near Hood River is Coyote Wall. The area is located just on the other side of the gorge in Washington. It features rolling hills that are full of wildflowers, a couple of streams, and even a small waterfall.
Although the area was meant for mountain biking, hiking is also widely accepted on the trails so be sure to watch out.
There are various different trails throughout the area and many of them connect with each other. This gives hikers and bikers the opportunity to create a new, unique trail overtime they visit.
A popular trail for bikers is the Little Maui Trail. It is best ridden downhill and has a rocky surface. The trail runs alongside one of the creeks and features some of the area’s small waterfalls. If you are looking for something a little more adrenaline pumping, try out Hidden Valley Trail. This trail offers some narrow hillside exposures on a rocky single track.
Hood River Dining:
Because Hood River is such a small town, many of the dining options are local businesses rather than chain restaurants. One of the standouts in town is Double Mountain Brewery and Taproom. Although it is a pretty busy spot, it is worth the wait. The laid back, authentic atmosphere is perfect for visitors after a long day of exploring.
Besides the staff and location, the food and beer options are great. Wood fired pizza is a classic for the restaurant, paired with your choice of local beers. The brewery offers four beers consistently on tap and a year around rotation of about 10-15 others. You can head over to their website to read beer-bios and check out what they are currently serving.
Hood River Shopping:
If you arrive in Hood River on a road trip in dire need of some new gear, you are in luck. The town is full of outdoor stores that sell brand new gear, do repairs, and offer rentals at cheap prices.
If you are new to the area and are looking for some fun suggestions from the locals, I would head to Doug’s Hood River. The store has everything from stand up paddle boarding to whitewater rafting gear. The staff is more than happy to make suggestions on places near town to check out and offers great prices on gear and rentals.
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