Mt. Hood National Forest covers 1.07 million acres in Oregon from the Columbia River Gorge south for 60 miles to the slopes of Mt. Jefferson. Anchoring the middle of the forest is the 11,249-foot Mt. Hood, an active stratovolcano that last erupted in 1866. There have been several earthquake swarms around Mt. Hood since 1950, but another eruption is not expected anytime soon (about a 5% chance in the next 30 years).
We dispersed camp in the national forest and had arguably our best view of the entire trip. We could look out the bedroom and dining room windows of our RV and see this spectacular volcano just a few miles away. We joked that we were camping for free with a million-dollar view.
Every evening we were treated to an amazing sunset.
On the way to Mt. Hood, we stopped at a local farm selling fresh apples, which were some of the best we’ve ever tasted, and we wished we would’ve bought many more. Here Theresa is admiring their beautiful flower display.
Mt. Hood is covered with 12 glaciers that retreated 34% in the 20th century. Glaciers cover about 80% of the mountain above 7,000 feet. We hiked to the base of Mt. Hood on a beautiful sunny day. Unfortunately the sky was thick with smoke from a nearby forest fire, so we couldn’t see the other volcanoes in this ring of fire. We hiked on the highest trail in the forest, which took us above the 9,000-foot elevation level. Fortunately we had been in the mountains for a while and didn’t suffer from altitude sickness. We had a great view of Eliot Glacier, which is the largest glacier by volume on the mountain and the thickest glacier with a depth of 360 feet.
A cold front passed through the area that night, and the smoke cleared the next day. When we climbed to the top of Lookout Mountain, we were greeted with a wonderful 360-degree view of the “two Oregons”: the wet, lush, forested Oregon to the west of the Cascades, and the semi-arid desert in the rain shield to the east of the Cascades. We could also see numerous volcanoes in the Cascade Volcanic Arc, including the 11,497-foot stratovolcano Mt. Jefferson.
Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams stood close together as an ominous pair.
The Timberline Lodge is a National Historic Landmark that sits over a mile high at the southern base of Mt. Hood. It’s a popular tourist attraction with more than a million visitors each year. The lodge was built in 1938 using local timber and stone. President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the lodge, saying “This Timberline Lodge marks a venture that was made possible by (Works Progress Administration) … in order that we may test the workability of recreational facilities installed by the Government itself and operated under its complete control.” Unfortunately like many things run by the federal government, the lodge floundered and fell into disrepair, eventually closing in 1955. Fortunately snow skiing boomed in popularity in the late 1950s, the lodge reopened, and has been profitable ever since.
The Timberline Lodge is notable because it was used for exterior shots in the classic movie, “The Shining” starring Jack Nicholson. But the snowy hedge maze from the climactic scene was located elsewhere. We climbed up Mt. Hood behind the lodge to a snowfield where many snow grooming machines were parked. Our dogs love to play in the snow, so we let them off the leash, and Darby immediately began running after Shadow. After a lengthy chase, Darby fell to the ground and started rolling around in the snow, making doggie snow angels.
Here is a view of Mt. Hood from the Timberline Lodge.
The 100-foot Tamawanas Falls is not as high as many of the waterfalls in the nearby Columbia River Gorge, but it’s certainly as beautiful. A massive spray filled the entire amphitheater. Hexagonal lava columns adorned the canyon walls. The area also has many old-growth Ponderosa Pines. As a matter of fact, Mt. Hood National Forest has nearly 350,000 acres of old-growth forest, one of the largest concentrations of old-growth in the continental US.