The Orchards of Hood River

In summer, we have tons of people come from all over the world and stay in our Mt Hood Cabin.  They come to hike, golf, ski and take in all that the area has to offer.  If you only have a few days and you love to drive, this is the trip for you.  This trip takes you on a big circle from our cabin in Welches, OR, up Mt Hood, down the east side into Hood River back through the Gorge and past all the amazing waterfalls and up through Troutdale, Gresham, Sandy and back to the cabin in Welches, OR, all about 110 miles!

GETTING READY…load the car up with gas and a cooler full of cold drinks and snacks.  In summer you don’t need to worry about the weather but if you are traveling in early spring or late fall, always make sure that you are ready for all kinds of weather when traveling over Mt Hood.  Always bring an extra jacket or hoodie with you, you never know what the weather is like not only on Mt Hood but in the Gorge as well.

FIRST LEG…head out of our community and go left onto Lolo Pass down to highway 26 (2 mi).  Go left on Highway 26 and begin to head over Mt Hood.  Our other blog topics go into detail about the hikes and tourist things to do on and close to Mt Hood like Ski Bowl Summer Fun, Government Camp, Timberline Lodge and various day hikes and such.  So we suggest you drive over Mt Hood, past Government Camp and go right onto highway 35 North towards Hood River.  This is a beautiful drive with many opportunities to stop and take in some amazing views of Mt Hood and the surrounding scenery.  From the cabin to Hood River is about 40 miles.  As you head furthur north you will pass Meadows Ski Resort, one of the larger ski areas on Mt Hood (we will blog about Meadows later).  The road winds down into some of the most furtile territory in the northwest where orchards are in abundance with over 14000 acres of farmland growing commercial pear, apple, cherry and peach.  This county leads the world in Anjou pear production and 50% of the countries winter pear crop comes from Hood River.  Cherries in spring, apples and pears in fall…stop by the many road side stands and pick up some fresh produce.

The Windsurfing Capital of the World

HOOD RIVER…you could spend a whole day here in this city on the mighty Columbia River.  You have just entered the wind surfing capital of the world.  You can also kite board, paddle board, kayak, raft, rent a boat or jet ski or just take a dip in the ole’ Columbia.  If anything, head down to the waterfront and watch the pros and the newbees taking a lesson.  If you are a newbee sign up for a lesson and try it out.  You never know it may become a passion or try it just to say, “I windsurfed in the Windsurfing Capital of the World.”  The town of Hood River has a vibrant shopping area (remember that Oregon has no sales tax) and many restaurants to fit any budget.  Try one of the local wines or microbrews or attend one of the many cultural events in the area.  There is something for everyone in Hood River and perhaps you just want to make a day of it and then head back up to Mt Hood after dinner.  Or for you, this trip to Hood River is nice for lunch and coffee but you really came to head down the Gorge and the likes of Multnomah Falls and Crown Point.  For more information on Hood River log onto hoodriver.org.

Multnomah Falls

THE GORGE AND WATERFALL HEAVEN…We are now going to head west on highway 84, the main highway the spans the length of the Columbia River from Portland west to the border of Idaho east.  This is an amazing road built right along the edge of the river with great views of the water and Washington on the other side.  There is so much to do and see that if you are going to see it all you have to decide where you will stop.  You can stop at the Bonneville Dam and Fish Hatchery, take pictures at the Bridge of the Gods or venture straight to the famous Multnomah Falls.  It is again about 40 miles from Hood River to Multnomah Falls.  You will see the signs.  Pull off the highway and park in front of the lodge.  It is a must to walk up to the bridge that spans the river over the falls, take pictures and feel the spray…powerful!  If you arrived early you can hike to the top for about an hours trek, the view from the top looking down and of the gorge is one of a kind.  There is a visitor center, snack shop, coffee cart or if you are up for something more fancy eat at the lodge itself.  At least go up into the lodge lobby and ask to peak in (they will let you).  The ambiance of the room with glass that allows you to look up at the falls is worth the stairs to get there.  After you have gotten your fill of Multnomah Falls you have 2 choices.  You can take highway 84 to Troutdale or take the Old Historic Highway (both end in the same place.)  The Old Historic Highway takes off from the Multnomah Falls parking area and goes west.  After a few miles you have a choice to go right to 84 or left.  If you choose to go left you will not only be treated to incredible vistas but other parking areas that host many other gorge waterfalls.  You can also visit the famous Vista House, an Oregon landmark recently renovated and one of the best east/west panoramic views of the Columbia River.  Evenutally the old highway follows along the Sandy River and heads into the cute town of Troutdale.  Troutdale as well has many shops and restuarants including the Troutdale Outlet Mall.  Before heading on your last 30 mile drive, if you have not eaten dinner, you must visit The McMenamins at Edgefield.  I can’t go into all that this resort like a microbrewery, winery, golf course, movie theatre, glass blowing, concert venue has to offer,  but we love this place.  It once was a poor farm where debtors were sent to work off their debt (what a great idea!).  Now it is one of the many McMenamin brother’s famous northwest restaurants and resorts.  If you do not have time this day then I would suggest that after you check out of the Mt Hood Cabin, come down and eat lunch or dinner at the Powerhouse Pub or outside on the large garden patio – a true northwest experience!  McMenamins!!

McMenamins at Edgefield

BACK TO THE CABIN…what a day…what a drive…what a vacation!  To get back you will go up the hill on 257th south to Kane through Gresham (that’s where I live) and connect to highway 26 east through Sandy and back to Welches.  This last leg of your drive is about 30 miles.  Get gas, stop at some larger grocery stores to stock up and dream of returning to our amazing cabin and soaking in the hot tub after a great 110 mile northwest adventure.

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