Best Day Hikes Near Mount Hood

With nearly 1,000 miles of trails in the region, hikes in the Mount Hood area range from lower elevation rambles in temperate rain forest with waterfalls and streams, to high altitude trails with alpine meadows and rocky ridges.

Best Day Hikes Near Mount Hood

Named Wy’east by native Multnomah tribe, Mount Hood is located in the Cascade Mountain Range, about 50 miles east of Portland. At 11,240 ft., Mount Hood is Oregon’s highest mountain and has eleven active glaciers. A dormant volcano, Mount Hood’s last major eruption was around 300 years ago, yet it still vents sulfur near the summit and is considered a likely candidate to become active again. Averaging 400 inches of snow each year, Mount Hood has six ski areas, including year-round skiing at Timberline.

BEST SEASONS TO HIKE

The best time to hike at Mount Hood is based on the elevation of the trail. Higher elevation trails are usually accessible from late-July until the autumn snows begin in October or November. Lower elevation trails, including the Old Salmon River and Salmon River Canyon Trails tend to be snow-free year round, although it’s a good idea to check current conditions before heading out. Snowshoeing is a popular alternative to hiking when the trails are covered with snow, but not all of these trails are accessible then.

To learn more about each featured hike, view the trip report links.

Best Day Hikes Near Mount Hood

PERMITS & PASSES: Some of the trailheads in this list require a Northwest Forest Pass for parking. See the trip report links for info on whether or not a pass is needed.

HIKE DIFFICULTY RATINGS

  • Easy: Up to 6 miles round trip, and up to 1,000 ft. gain
  • Moderate: Up to 8 miles round trip, with 1,000-2,000 ft. gain
  • Strenuous: Up to 10 miles round trip, with 2,000-3,000 ft. gain
  • Very Strenuous: Up to 12 miles round trip, with 3,000-4,000 ft. gain

Featured Hikes

Bald Mountain via Lolo Pass

Bald Mountain hike via Lolo Pass

distance: 6.6 miles (out and back)
elevation gain: 1,400 ft.
difficulty: moderate
best season: summer (typically June to October)
trip report: Bald Mountain via Lolo Pass

This hike along the Pacific Crest Trail connects with many popular trails on Mount Hood, including the Timberline Trail. Take an unmarked trail to the top of Bald Mountain for an upfront view of Mount Hood.

Boulder Ridge to Huckleberry Mountain

Boulder Ridge hike

distance: 10.6 miles (out and back)
elevation gain: 3,450 ft.
difficulty: very strenuous
best season: early summer to fall
trip report: Boulder Ridge & Huckleberry Mountain hike

The Boulder Ridge Trail begins at the Wildwood Recreation Site in Welches next to the Salmon River. The trail begins with a bridge over the river, then goes through a flat section of super green forest before heading up the ridge and eventually, all the way to the summit of Huckleberry Mountain.

Burnt Lake and East Zigzag Mountain

Burnt Lake and East Zigzag Mountain hike

TO BURNT LAKE
distance:
6.6 miles round trip
elevation gain: 1,420 ft
difficulty: moderate

TO EAST ZIGZAG MOUNTAIN
distance: 9.4 miles round trip
elevation gain: 2,300 ft
difficulty: strenuous

best season: summer (typically July to October)
trip report: Burnt Lake & East Zigzag Mountain hike

Take a moderate hike to Burnt Lake for views of Mount Hood reflected in the lake, or for more expansive views, continue for a strenuous hike to East Zigzag Mountain.

Eightmile Creek Loop

Eightmile Creek Loop hike

distance: 7.4 miles (loop)
elevation gain: 1,080 ft.
difficulty: moderate
best season: late fall when larches are turning color, typically mid-October to November
trip report: Eightmile Creek Loop hike

In late October to early November, western larches turn brilliant shades of yellow and gold before dropping their needles. This loop hike on the east side of Mount Hood has masses of them. Trail highlights include an open ridge with views to the south and east, and a side trail that leads to the Five Mile Butte lookout tower.

Elk Mountain & Elk Meadows

Mount Hood – Elk Meadows hike

distance: 8 miles (loop)
elevation gain: 1,386 ft.
difficulty: moderate
best season: summer (typically July to October)
trip report: Elk Mountain & Elk Meadows hike

Located on the east side of Mount Hood, this trail begins at the Mount Hood Meadows ski area and features a former lookout at Elk Mountain and spacious meadows with a view of the mountain.

Lookout Mountain via Fret Creek

Lookout Mountain hike from Fret Creek trailhead

distance: 7.5 miles (out and back)
elevation gain: 2,100 ft.
difficulty: moderate
best season: summer (typically June to November)
trip report: Lookout Mountain via Fret Creek hike

This hike to Lookout Mountain in Badger Creek Wilderness features western larches displaying golden yellow fall color, multiple viewpoints along the Divide Trail ridge, and the summit of Lookout Mountain with up close views of Mount Hood.

Lookout Mountain via High Prairie

distance: 3 miles
elevation gain: 565 ft.
difficulty: easy
best season: summer (typically June to November)
trip report: Lookout Mountain via High Prairie

Located on the east side of Mount Hood in the Badger Creek Wilderness, Lookout Mountain is accessible via several trails that lead to the top – this is the shortest route from the High Prairie trailhead.

McNeil Point

Mount Hood - McNeil Point hike

distance: 10.4 miles
elevation gain: 2,200 ft.
difficulty: strenuous
best season: summer (typically mid-July to October)
trip report: McNeil Point hike

Hike along the Bald Mountain ridge on Mount Hood’s northwest side, passing through wildflower-filled alpine meadows to the McNeil Point stone shelter just below the Sandy and Glisan glaciers

Mirror Lake & Tom Dick Harry Mountain

Tom Dick and Harry Mountain hike

distance: 7.7 miles round trip
elevation gain: 1,460 ft.
difficulty: moderate
best season: summer (typically June to October)
trip report: Tom Dick & Harry Mountain hike

Located next Mount Hood, this hike to Mirror Lake and the rocky summit of Tom Dick and Harry Mountain has great views of the Cascades, with rhododendrons and wildflowers alongside the forested trail.

Old Salmon River Trail

Old Salmon River Trail hike

distance: 5 miles (out and back)
elevation gain: 200 ft.
difficulty: easy
best season: all year, depending on snow levels
trip report: Old Salmon River Trail

The Old Salmon River Trail is a great place to introduce hikers to the beauty of the Pacific Northwest’s lush, mossy forests and scenic rivers. An easy trail that’s relatively flat, woodland wildflowers add to the beauty in early spring.

Salmon River Canyon

Salmon River Canyon hike

distance: 7.8 miles
elevation gain: 950 ft.
difficulty: moderate
best season: all year, depending on snow levels
trip report: Salmon River Canyon hike

Hike beside the Salmon River through a mossy forest with old-growth cedar and fir, primitive campsites, and spring wildflowers to a canyon viewpoint above the river.

Surveyors Ridge Rim Rock hike

Surveyors Ridge Rim Rock hike

distance: 6.3 miles (out and back)
elevation gain: 810 ft.
difficulty: easy
best season: summer (typically May to November)
trip report: Surveyors Ridge Rim Rock hike

Surveyors Ridge is popular with mountain bikers but it’s also a great trail for hikers. This hike starts at the Shellrock Mountain trailhead and travels along a ridge to the Yellowjacket viewpoint. Panoramic views of Mount Hood are a highlight of this hike.

Tamanawas Falls

Tamanawas Falls hike

distance: 4.2 miles (loop)
elevation gain:
 900 ft.
difficulty: easy
best season: summer (typically June to November)
trip report: Tamanawas Falls hike

A Native American word, Tamanawas means “friendly spirit guide.” It’s not hard to imagine friendly spirits enjoying the breathtaking scenery here. Most hikers begin at the East Fork trailhead, but for a longer and much less crowded hike, begin at the Elk Meadows/Polallie trailhead to the north. Highlights include the mossy green Cold Spring Creek canyon and 100 ft. tall Tamanawas Falls.