Portland’s favorite mountain looms tall over the city, beckoning families to its heights for adventure and year-round fun! With summer on the way out the door, visitors have all of the perks that fall brings to look forward to: empty trails, stunning colors, and plenty to do. If you are planning to head out for a day trip or an overnight journey, check out these spots, and tips before you take off. Scroll down to find out more about where to go and what to do!
photo: roth via yelp
You can’t visit Mt Hood without a stop at Timberline. This iconic 1930’s lodge, once visited by President Franklin Roosevelt, is a great stop even if you’re not going to spend the night. Get there first thing to let the kids partake of the legendary breakfast buffet in the Cascade Dining Room. Or fight any fall chill with a big mug of hot cocoa by the stone fireplace. Tell the kids to keep an eye out for Heidi, the lovable local (and giant!) St. Bernard that roams the halls and trails.
27500 E Timberline Road
Timberline Lodge, Or
While you’re at Timberline, don’t miss the top of the mountain! If you’re brood isn’t up for the snow, skip the gear and ride the lift up Mt Hood instead. You’ll get fantastic vistas above the trees of Mt Jefferson and the valleys. It’s 30 minutes up and down, but you can spend as much time on top if you like. And if you’re family is up for the challenge (weather permitting), you can take the 2 hour hike down. The lift operates 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. most days, but check the weather before booking.
$18/adults, free for children 6 and under
photo: ian via flickr
Skim the surface of one of the most pristine, and most photographed, lakes in Oregon. Trillium offers perfectly framed views of Mt. Hood above it’s calm blue waters. You can explore the easy 2 mile loop around the lake in order to scout out the best place to launch your craft. Rent a kayak or canoe from Mt. Hood Adventure and they’ll deliver it right to the lake! They also offer guided tours, paddle board rentals, tips, and lots of options for fun.
Mt Hood Adventure
88661 Government Camp Loop Rd.
Government Camp, Or
This gentle trail is a perfect way to let little ones find their hiking feet. It winds 1 mile there and back along the river, ending at the impressive Little ZigZag Falls. The hike is short but high on scenic views, with beautiful old-growth forest everywhere. Since it dips into a canyon, it can be a little chilly even on a summer day, so be sure to wear some layers if it’s cool already. Bring a picnic to enjoy just outside the spray zone, or play with some leaf boats in the river!
Trailhead, just outside of Government Camp
photo: dietrich via flickr
Fall is an ideal time for mushroom hunting! Head to the woods with a pail and a small knife, walk slow, and keep a sharp eye out. Kids are really good at hunting the elusive ‘shrooms, with their sharp eyes and closer proximity to the ground. Stop by the Zigzag Ranger Station for maps and permits. Beginner hunters will need to get a reputable guide, and use common sense—don’t let anyone in the group eat any mushrooms until you’ve positively id’ed them (in more than one guide and/or with an expert). That said, don’t let the danger scare you away. Many edible mushrooms are easily identifiable with no poisonous look-alikes, and kids can be easily taught what to look for (and reminded not to eat anything until they’ve checked with an adult).
If fishes are more your thing than mushroom, head to the rivers for some fly fishing! In Welches, OR, you can gear up at the Fly Fishing Shop, stocked with all you’ll need for a successful venture. If you or your kids are new to the sport, get tips and training for the whole family, or take a guided fishing trip from them! The waters nearby are full of trout, steelhead salmon, bass and more, and the shop has been guiding customers to the best spots for 35 years.
photo: smit via yelp
Just outside Welches, 550 acres of old-growth forest is open to explore in Wildwood Recreation Area. The easy Cascade Streamwatch Trail is a paved path (great for strollers) that follows the Salmon River for ¾ mile. Tell your kids to keep an eye out for fish in the waters–they’ll love the underwater viewing area that makes it simple! The Boulder Ridge Trail is a challenge for older kids to tackle as it winds 4.7 miles up into the wilderness. Back at the recreation area you’ll find picnic tables, restrooms (flushing toilets!) and drinking water, making this a great stop for all ages.
Open through Nov.15
Enjoy a unique stay on the mountain at the Tiny House Village near the foot of Mt. Hood. Five tiny houses are nestled around an adorable courtyard with lovely walking paths and a firepit. They’re all built to safe and sustainable specifications, and make a fun night out. Don’t think you’re clan is too big for them– most sleep 3 at a minimum, and a few sleep up to 5 and welcome pets! Try out the tiny house trend for a night, and see how big 175 square feet can feel!
Starts at $129/night
Rooms at Timberline start at $160 for 2 people. Children under 12 are always free, and cribs are available upon request! The lodge is a magical stay with kids, so don’t miss out!
For an extra special outing, join together with a few other families and book the Silcox Hut at the top. You need a minimum of 16 people for Friday and Saturday nights, but your party gets dinner, transportation from the lodge to the hut (7,000 feet up the mountain!) and breakfast. A special overnight treat!
What’s your favorite fall day on Mt. Hood? Tell us in the comments below!