U.S. National Forest Campground Guide

Mt. Hood National Forest


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Forest Information

The Mt. Hood National Forest is in northwest Oregon and consists of 1,064, 573 acres. There are 81 developed campgrounds, of which 43 meet the selection criteria.

Mt Hood National Forest, only 20 miles from Portland, OR and at the top of Willamette Valley, is considered a "backyard" national forest. Thousands of people visit the Forest each week from the neighboring urban areas. Yet more visitors from all over the world are being drawn to the majestic towering beacon of Mt Hood National Forest by the promise of outstanding recreational opportunities. Initially established in 1893 as the Cascade Range Forest Reserve, Mt Hood National Forest has offered visitors such recreational experiences as hiking, canoeing, rafting, climbing, backpacking, mountain or road bicycling, fishing, and more. For each of these activities there is a developed campground nearby. Some of these campgrounds are better-suited for tent and car campers while others are perfect for recreational vehicles, whether travel trailer or motor home, camping enthusiasts.

The network of trails in, over, and around Mt. Hood and its wilderness are well known for their scenery and challenges. Tilly Jane campground, at the edge of the Mt Hood Wilderness, is good for tent camping and as a base camp for discovering the magic of this ancient volcano. Less challenging but possibly as inspiring are the hiking trails available in the Timothy Lake area. More then twenty miles of trails play peak-a-boo with Mt. Hood. Bicyclist and hikers will find other challenges and solitude on the Timothy Lake trails. Horseback riding enthusiasts will find Joe Graham Horse Camp, with its sturdy corrals and easy access to miles and miles of trails, just great. However, it will be difficult to get the boaters and anglers out of one of the area's half dozen campgrounds or off the bright blue water of Timothy Lake to explore the trails system.

While there are power boating opportunities available at several places in Mt Hood National Forest, it is the outstanding paddle opportunities, whether canoe or kayak, that are better known. Imagine waking up early at Trillium Lake campground and paddling around Trillium Lake in the reflection of Mt Hood. It is a most memorable experience. At Lost Lake campground, visitors can rent a non-motorized boat from the adjacent Lost Lake Resort and enjoy a day exploring this Lake tucked into Mt Hood's eastern side.

Whitewater enthusiasts, whether rafter or kayaker, in Mt Hood have several options but probably the best-known water is on the Wild and Scenic Clackamas River. Furthest from the major urban areas, the Clackamas River corridor offers not only many campgrounds in a semi-sub-tropical environment but it is also a less crowded, less developed experience than found in the rest of Mt Hood National Forest. With nine developed campgrounds stretching along the 47 miles of this challenging river, the Clackamas River corridor is a great spot for recreating. Miles upon miles of hiking trails link most of the campgrounds. Clear, fast flowing, it appears ideal for fishing, except the fish in the Clackamas River are protected. Anglers should bring a camera to document their success before returning their catch to the River.

The Mt Hood National Forest has six different Wildernesses with a variety of climbing and backpacking opportunities. There are a few developed campgrounds, such as Green Canyons next to Salmon-Huckleberry and Elk Lake (not included in research) next to Bull in the Woods wildernesses, that are well suited as base camps for exploring the wilderness areas. From either location, visitors will find the beauty, challenge, and solitude they seek.

Bicycling may be Oregon's unofficial state sport. Mt. Hood National Forest has provided this sport with several opportunities. From a scenic ride along the eastern side of Mt Hood on State 35 to the challenge of one of its many off-road trails, bicyclists find this forest interesting, diverse, and satisfying.

One unique opportunity found in the Mt Hood National Forest is skiing in the middle of summer. On the south face of Mt Hood, above Government Camp, is the historic Timberline Lodge. The Lodge is open year-round and during the summer it is the base camp for several "Performance Camps" for young people. Each morning the glacier slopes above the Lodge are dotted with young adventurers improving their skiing skills. After lunch the ski-lift and slopes are opened to the public. Not interested in skiing, ride the lift up the mountain and enjoy a spectacular view of Mt Jefferson and the surrounding area.

While Government Camp area does offer recreational opportunities, it also has an interesting history. Beside the story of Government Camp's origin, it was the resting area before the last major obstacle on the Oregon Trail. Barlow Road was an alternate to the expansive and dangerous Columbia River passage for western bound emigrants. This Road passes under the shadow of Mt Hood, through Summit Meadow, a welcomed spot along Barlow Road, and the Pioneer Woman's Grave, located next to the meadow, before the final stretch and Laurel Hill. Just how important this Summit Meadow was for getting the party back into "good shape" can be appreciated with a visit to [terrifying] Laurel Hill which is a chute requiring the pioneers to lower their wagons using a system of pulleys.

More recent history can be found at the Clackamas Lake Ranger Station. With the charming District Ranger's Residence (available for rent through the National Reservation System) - the restored District Ranger's Office, and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)-built out buildings, this Ranger Station gives visitors a chance to experience more than 100 years of Mt Hood's National Forest history.

Perhaps one of best things Mt Hood National Forest offers visitors is relief from the stress of modern life. A few days in the quiet and tranquil, found at such places as Lost Creek, Hideaway Lake, and Indian Henry campgrounds, are just what many people need to "recharge their batteries." But if challenges and excitement are what visitors want, the Mt Hood National Forest has that, too.

SUPERVISOR ADDRESS 16400 Champion Way Sandy, Oregon 97055 503-668-1700 RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES Barlow 780 NE Court Street Dufur, Oregon 97021 541-467-2291 Clackamas 595 NW Industrial Way Estacada, Oregon 97023 503-630-6861 Hood River 6780 Highway 35 South Parkdale, Oregon 97041 541-352-6002 Zigzag 70220 E. Hwy. 26 Zigzag, Oregon 97049 503-622-3191

Fred and Suzi Dow