Three Cider-Centered Days in Hood River
Long known for its rolling hills of fruit orchards and its craft beer scene, the Hood River Valley is experiencing the fermentation craze making its way across the country. Thanks to its 14,000 acres of fruit orchards and multiple generations of farming knowledge, Hood River Valley is quickly becoming the epicenter of Oregon cider making.
Hood River is home to nine cideries, plus the Hood River Hard-Pressed Cider Fest, now in its fourth year. Over the last decade, local farmers and cider makers have cultivated a sweet partnership that has led to an infusion of the region’s apples, pears, cherries, apricots and hops into a wide range of hard ciders.
This spring, plan a multi-day stay in Hood River and explore the area’s authentic cider scene. The prime time to visit: April, when the Hood River Valley is blanketed in pink and white blossoms.
Day 1 – Hood River
Make your first stop the Hood River Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center (720 East Port Marina), where you can pick up the Gorge Cider Society map, which includes descriptions of local cideries.
After checking into your hotel, work up a thirst and get a feel for Hood River’s magical location at the crossroads of the mighty Columbia River and the Cascade Range by walking or cycling along the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail, starting at the Mark O. Hatfield West trailhead. This five-mile trail section of the Historic Highway – which is closed to vehicles – starts in Hood River and features amazing views of the Gorge and Mount Adams, plus passage through a historic double tunnel.
Time for your reward! Head to Hood River’s first cider bar, Crush Cider Café, for happy hour, where their 18 rotating taps feature local and regional hard ciders.
Day 2 – The Hood River County Fruit Loop
Explore the Hood River Valley, where many of the local ciders get their start, thanks to the 400 acres of fruit orchards. The Hood River County Fruit Loop is a gorgeous 35-mile self-guided tour route. It takes visitors past pear, cherry and apple orchards & vineyards, with suggested stops at more than 20 farms, orchards, cideries and wineries. It also offers “double mountain” views, with Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams providing stunning backdrops.
Stop at The Gorge White House for small tastes of their award-winning apple-pear, blueberry and “perry” hard ciders, and Fox-Tail Ciders, where you can get a growler of one of their signature ciders, which tend to be more traditional and not overly sweet to allow the natural flavors to emerge.
If you time your visit right, you can finish your day at the annual Hood River Hard-Pressed Cider Fest, which is taking place on April 22, 2017. More than 20 cideries will be participating, with more than 40 ciders on tap. To accompany the ciders, festival-goers can dig into offerings from the area’s vibrant food scene. The day-long event also features a lineup of local music and a kids’ area, guaranteeing a great time for the whole family.
Day 3 – Mosier
Spend the morning exploring other cideries on both sides of the Columbia River on Gorge Cider Society’s Cider Route.
After lunch, head to downtown Hood River to rent bikes at Mountain View Cycles so you can bike the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail. Start at the Mark O. Hatfield Trailhead West – the start of a 5-mile route which is closed to cars and offers amazing views of the Gorge. It takes you to the town of Mosier, where you can lock up your bikes and take a short hike along the Mosier Plateau, which bursts with wildflowers in April.
The reward for your exertion before heading back to Hood River? Homemade pizza and cider at Mosier’s sweet taproom, Rack & Cloth. This small cidery gets its name from its unique production style.