With the final days of summer and glorious weather of fall approaching, I want to share a few of my favorite day hikes at Mount Hood (like McNeil Point, pictured above) and headed east towards The Gorge. As many of you know, I’m an avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast. All the trainers at Hyatt Training believe in helping clients (and ourselves) work hard inside the studio so that we can go outdoors and enjoy all that the awesome Pacific Northwest has to offer.

Day hikes at Mount Hood and the Gorge

Hikes below are listed from shortest to longest. There really is something for everyone!
Day hikes at the Gorge Wahclella Falls

Wahclella Falls Hike

This two-mile round-trip hike is a family-friendly favorite. The scenic trail is easy enough for young kids. But for anyone it is also an awesome trip back in to some wonderful waterfalls and water pools to play in or have a picnic by. After this fun hike, it can be fun to continue east on I-84 to Hood River for lunch. But note that on weekends Hood River is a very popular place and you should expect a wait at most restaurants during peak hours.
Learn more at Northwest Hiker

Tamanawas Falls

I enjoy this trail due to its accessibility, ease for kids, and it’s at the top of my favorite waterfalls in Oregon. The hike follows a creek most of the time and zigzags through pine forest on the east side of Mt. Hood south of Cooper Spur Road with parking immediately off of highway 35. It can also be done as a larger loop connecting with the Polallie Trail. Total hiking miles are 3.8 miles round-trip. I enjoy using this hike as a stop after spending some time in Hood River, or as a stop when loop driving around Mt. Hood for the day. It offers great views and is considerably dryer than Gorge hikes. Expect a full parking lot on sunny weekends.
Learn more at Northwest Hiker

Day hikes at Mount Hood Eagle Creek Trail

Eagle Creek

One of the most popular hikes in Oregon for good reason. It offers an abundance of water to play in and traverse, steep canyons, bridge crossings, and waterfalls. The trail is also considered to be an alternate route for the Pacific Crest Trail, so it can be taken all the way to Mexico! Pick your distance on this out-and-back trek. Common turn-a-round points are punchbowl falls at 2 miles (4 miles round-trip), High Bridge, Tunnel Falls at mile 6 (12 miles round-trip), and Wahtum Lake at 13 miles ( 26 miles round-trip). If you’re in for a longer adventure, use a shuttle to pick you up at Lolo Pass Road 25 miles up the trail on the West side of Mt. Hood (same road to get to Top Spur Trail and access McNiel Point). Beware, weekends can be busy, so I prefer starting early at sunrise. Remember that you’re in a canyon the entire way, so the ridges will shield sunlight. Mid-summer days can really warm up, but luckily there is an abundance of fresh mountain water to keep you chilled while hiking! Expect busy crowds on most weekends, which tend to thin out after High Bridge and Tunnel Falls. This is also a great stopping point if headed out to Hood River or stopping at Cascade Locks to play at the park by the river.
Learn more at Northwest Hiker

McNiel Point

This is one of my all-time favorite hikes that can be easily done in a day. Accessing the trailhead is simple for how up-close and personal you get to the west-facing slope of Mount Hood. The route begins to climb immediately from the trailhead traveling through dense forest for about 2.5 miles until reaching the first of many spectacular views of canyons, glacier waterfalls, and rocky ridges. This trail has it all, including alpine meadows, lakes, and a shelter made of stone! Total hiking miles to the top of McNiel Point is 9.8 miles round-trip. Another option for those not wanting to climb as far can also continue around the mountain on the Timberline Trail toward Cairn Basin and out to Elk Cove where you can see the North face of Mount Hood, views of Hood River, Lost Lake, and three Washington peaks (Mount Saint Helens, Mount Adams, and Mount Rainer in clear view) (8 miles round-trip). Plenty of overnight camp spots are available as well. Expect snow in early summer and dry terrain in late summer, so wearing gaiters can be helpful to keep snow and/or dust out of your boots. Also prepare for creek crossings, which can be dangerous, especially early in the spring when the water is running fast. Bringing an extra pair of socks would be a great idea.
Learn more at Northwest Hiker
Day hikes at Mount Timberline Trail zig zag canyon

Timberline Trail to Zig Zag Canyon/Paradise Park

This hike is all-around scenic, fun, and challenging depending on the distance you’d like to travel. Park at Timberline Lodge (which is free during non-ski seasons May-Oct) and head west on the Timberline Trail. Zig Zag Canyon is your first major viewpoint at 2.3 miles (turn around here for a 4.6 mile round-trip) before steeply descending downhill to cross the Zig Zag River. The entire paradise park loop is 11.8 miles round-trip, but well worth the views, solitude (depending on the day of week), and is great conditioning while enjoying the high alpine environment. Pace yourself if aiming to complete the whole loop. The way back to the lodge is steady incline. The first time I did this loop I was carrying my 6-month-old daughter in a pack, and it took us about 8 hours with multiple snack and rest breaks. Part of the reward is finishing a long hike and being able to sit back and enjoy a beverage at the Timberline Bar! Expect crowds the first 1-2 miles close to the Lodge, but most people stop at the Zig Zag Canyon viewpoint. I always enjoy this hike for the scenery, challenging terrain, and mountain culture. During early summer, there are often both hikers and skiers playing on the mountain at the same time. There’s nothing like the alpine air to open your lungs and condition your body!
Learn more about Timberline Trail and Zig Zag Canyon at Northwest Hiker

Before you go

All of the hikes on my list except Timberline require a Northwest Forest Pass. An annual pass ($30) can be purchased online at USDA Forest Service website, at REI, Zig Zag ranger station and most Shell gas stations. They also sell day passes ($5), which can sometimes be purchased at the trailhead but not always. If it doesn’t say, then you probably still need one.

I always recommend carrying the hiker’s 10 essentials with you when going out on a serious trail. I also like to use Oregon hikers for driving directions and to cross-reference information.

Feel free to email me at Go@HyattTraining.com or catch me in the studio before/after a client with any questions.

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