Outdoor adventures from Portland: hiking Mount Hood and the Columbia River Gorge

Posted on 29 March 2016

Slow Berlin assistant editor Laura Harker shares more tips from her recent trip to the Pacific Northwest…

Hostels - Mount Hood


Portland is famous for its cool, metropolitan city life, but don’t forget that it’s surrounded by the stunning natural landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. If you’re based in a hostel in Portland, Mount Hood and Columbia River Gorge are perfect places for a trip into the wilderness. Best of all, both areas are within easy reach of the city. With access to a car you can be at Mount Hood in 90 minutes, and Columbia River Gorge in just 20 minutes.

Mount Hood

Mount Hood offers a plethora of hiking and mountain biking trails, and turns into a skiing and snowboarding paradise during the colder months. The Timberline Lodge – recognisable to many as the hotel from the film The Shining – is one of the mountain’s most popular starting points for hiking and mountain biking routes. Most paths snake off from the lodge, leading along the edge of Zigzag Canyon and through Paradise Park. Many of the hiking routes are beginner-friendly, while experienced hikers choose to extend their walks out to the secluded North Fork of Lost Creek.

Hostels - Timberline Lodge


The mountain village of Government Camp is another popular starting point, and its Mirror Lake Trail is one of the mountain’s busiest. The lake at the trail’s end is famous for its clear reflections of the mountain, and the area is extremely popular with huckleberry foragers in late August and early September.


Columbia River Gorge

Hostels - Columbia River Gorge


Just a 20-minute drive out of the city, the Columbia River Gorge is a natural border between the states of Oregon and Washington, running for 85 miles between the mouths of the Deschutes and Sandy Rivers. If you head to the gorge, you’ll be required to buy a National Forest Pass, which you can buy online and print out before you leave. It’s just $5 for a day pass.

The gorge is made up of two contrasting terrains: in the west, you can hike through dense woodland, often shrouded in Oregon’s famous mist, while further east the forests are replaced by gentle hills, farmland and large ranches. One of the gorge’s main sights is Oregon’s tallest waterfall, the Multnomah Falls, and many visitors hike a mile from the base of the falls at Benson Bridge, up the steep path to the top of the waterfall.

The Pacific Crest Trail, an epic hiking route that stretches from Mexico all along the West Coast to Canada, passes through the Columbia River Gorge, and many hikers head to the gorge just to walk this particular section. Along this trail you’ll cross the Bridge of the Gods, the lowest point of elevation in the entire PCT, and also the main walking link between Oregon and Washington.