One of America’s true gems, Mt. Hood National Forest, lies just twenty miles east of Portland, Oregon. Over 3 million people live within a half hour drive of Mt. Hood. This unique and stunning National Forest is an outdoor enthusiast’s dreamland. There is a limitless number of ways to spend your time outdoors here. The forest was first protected in 1892 as the Bull Run Reserve. Over 100 years later, the forest is still protected. Mt. Hood National Forest is one of the most visited National Forests in the country, with anywhere from 2 to 4 million people visiting the forest each year. It encompasses over 1 million acres and over 30% of that is old growth forest.
Each year photographers flock to Trillium Lake to try to frame the perfect view of Mt. Hood. The truly breathtaking view of the 11,239-foot peak of Mt. Hood off the tranquil waters of the lake makes waiting for the perfect shot well worth your time. Trillium Lake is also a popular spot to catch a nap in a hammy along the tree-lined shore or push a kayak in the water for an afternoon paddle. For hikers, there is an impressive two-mile loop hiking trail that circles the beautiful alpine lake and takes your breath away with each stunning view of Mt. Hood across the calm water. The lake is also very popular for camping and fishing.
There are thousands of miles of hiking trails within Mt. Hood National Forest. Many of the most popular trails are easily accessible near lakes and other scenic areas. Other trails visit waterfalls, alpine meadows, overlooks, and the old Oregon Trail route that passes through the area. A portion of the Pacific Crest Trail passes through the National Forest on the flanks of the mountain as well. If you like to explore and spend time out of doors enjoying nature, this is your place, but if you really want to be “one with nature” there are eight officially designated wilderness areas inside the Mt. Hood National Forest. Wilderness areas are the most protected of any federal land, with restrictions that prevent development, these areas allow you to experience solitude in a very primitive and wild natural setting.
Whether you are just passing through on one of the many scenic drives, or a frequent visitor to excellent outdoor recreation sites, you will want to add Mt. Hood National Forest to your bucket list, because it has something to offer to everyone.