Mt. Hood and the Columbia River

posted in: Oregon Road Trip 2013 | 0

I just got back to Hood River after a drive around Mt. Hood on what the state of Oregon has designated the Mt. Hood Scenic Byway and the Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway. I stopped in the Passport Pub & Café enjoying a beer and using their wifi. But I didn’t bring the cable that connects my camera to my computer, so I can’t include any photos in this post. I can say, though, that it was scenic.

Driving south on Rt. 35, I had a face full of Mt. Hood for much of the way.

I stopped for gas. In Oregon, you aren’t allowed to pump your own gas. But this was the first time I got my windshield cleaned as part of the bargain. And gas is cheaper in Oregon than in Washington, where you can pump your own. I don’t get it.

My first stop was at Timberline Lodge. This lodge was built in the mid 1930s, a project of the WPA. It is on the National Register of Historic Places, and it still has its original look and feel, with wood paneling and a big stone fireplace in the center of the lobby, rising three stories. The lodge is right at tree-line, and there was a lot of snow up there. Right out the window of the lobby you can see the mountain. You can ski down and ride lifts back up; you can also ride lifts further up and ski down to the lodge. I took some great pictures, both inside and out. I can’t wait to share them.

Then I hiked up to Mirror Lake, 1.5 miles each way with an elevation gain of 700 feet, and I got the classic view of the mountain reflected in the lake. It was rippling, so not exactly a mirror, but very beautiful.

Here’s a corollary to the rule I posted yesterday about how driving the same road in the opposite direction is like driving an entirely new route:

  • If you hike a loop trail, be sure to turn around to see the views behind you. If you hike an out-and-back trail, don’t bother doing this.

The rest of the drive offered more great scenery. Trust me.

When I got to Troutdale, I stopped and checked out a few galleries and antique shops. It’s a cute town.

Troutdale is also the gateway to the Columbia River Gorge. It’s a scenic drive with great views of the Columbia River plus three or four or five or more impressive waterfalls. I enjoyed some great hikes up to a few of the waterfalls; others are visible right from the road.

About 30 miles west of Hood River, historic US 30 merges onto I‑84, which I took back to Hood River. I’m happy to say that I’ve mostly avoid Interstate Highways on this trip. The first hour (Seattle to Olympia) was on I‑5. Then I did about an hour on I‑5 from Myrtle Creek to Grants Pass on the way to Ashland. Then today. And tomorrow, as I head home, I’m planning on taking a slightly longer route over unfamiliar territory that will include a short stretch of I‑82 from Yakima to Ellensburg before I get onto I‑90 back into Seattle.

No mileage report today yet (because my miles for the day aren’t over yet… I still have to drive back to where I’m staying across the river).

I’ll post again when I’m home, and I’ll post links to all my photos, the ones from today plus the many that didn’t make it into the blog.

See you in Seattle!

[Update: 173 miles] 

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