Take a hike off the beaten path in Hood River

With its close proximity to Oregon’s highest peak, Mt. Hood, and the lush waterfall corridor of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Hood River, Oregon is a hiker’s paradise.

Hood River’s quaint downtown, excellent lodging options, restaurants and parks make it a perfect basecamp, whether you want to take a scenic drive, a leisurely walk, or a strenuous hike during your stay. After a good night’s rest, load up on a home-cooked breakfast in downtown Hood River before venturing out for the day. Numerous downtown restaurants offer grab-n-go options, so you can pack a lunch or power snacks.

If solitude is what you seek, consider venturing a little further afield to discover some of the less popular yet equally stunning trails in the eastern and northern part of the Gorge. Come fall, each trail offers colorful foliage. And, they are just as beautiful on misty days as they are on sunny ones.

GO EARLY: Steigerwald Lake

If you’re traveling to Hood River from the Portland or Vancouver Metro area, hit the road early and stop at Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Here, you can listen to the songbirds while you take an early morning stroll through this peaceful, protected wildlife refuge. A flat, one-mile hike takes you to the edge of the Columbia River.

GO EAST: Columbia Hills State Park

About 50 miles east of Hood River, Columbia Hills State Park offers 12.5 miles of hiking trails, rock climbing, swimming beaches and more. If you’d prefer to travel by horse or mountain bike, the 6.6-mile trail starting at the Crawford Oaks trailhead is open to all users and offers about 1,000 feet of elevation gain and spectacular views of the Columbia River and Mt. Hood.

GO NORTH: Weldon Wagon Trail

Enjoy a hike or mountain bike ride on this early 1900s road built to transport apples from the upper farmlands to the White Salmon River. This 2.5-mile out-and-back trail offers rolling hills and an oak grove.

GO MIDWEEK: Dry Creek Falls

This often-overlooked trail near Cascade Locks (about 30 miles west of Hood River) follows a section of the Pacific Crest Trail about 2 miles to the base of a 230-foot waterfall. Go midweek to enjoy some peace and solitude while listening to the water as it plunges into a basalt amphitheater.


Dry Creek Falls, by Yeng Tang
Columbia Hills State Park, by Mitchell Friedman
Steigerwald Lake, by Jeff Hollett