For more than a century, city folks have escaped the heat of summer by heading to the mountains. Early adventurers would take the train to Hood River and then travel by stagecoach to Cloud Cap Inn. Built in 1889, the Cloud Cap Inn, located on the North slope of Mt Hood, is the country’s oldest high alpine ski cabin.
With the completion of Timberline Lodge in 1937, summer travelers could now enjoy longer stays in the cool of the mountain; folks would sometimes stay for several months during the heat of the summer.
For a modern day traveler, the journey is much easier, and still a great way to cool off during the hot summer months. To avoid the crowds, plan a midweek mountain adventure that traces the path of those intrepid adventurers.
Head into Hood River on a Tuesday night for live music and dinner at Springhouse Cellar’s Ruins Tuesday. Regional musicians and local food from Solstice Wood Fired Pizza or Four and Twenty Blackbirds food carts makes for a lively start to your escape.
After a good nights sleep and a fresh-from-the-farm breakfast, it’s time to head up the mountain. Wind through the valley on the Fruit Loop, stopping to pick up some fresh fruit from one of the local stands. If you want to stop for a hike on your way up Hwy 35, try Tamanawas Falls Trail, starting at Sherwood Forest Campground. This easy hike is 3.8 mi round trip, about an 1.5 hours, through lush forest along a crystal clear stream, ending at a spectacular waterfall complete with cooling mist and a plunge pool to soak your feet.
Continue up Hwy 35 to Hwy 26 and follow signs to Timberline Lodge. At
6000 ft elevation, the Lodge offers spectacular views and a chance to play in the snow year round. Enjoy the gourmet lunch buffet in the Cascade Dining Room from 11:30 to 2pm daily. After lunch, ride the “Magic Mile” chairlift up to 7000 ft elevation and play in the snow! Hike or ride back down to the lodge. There are miles of beautiful trails around the lodge to explore, as well as several gift and gear shops to check out. If you want to learn more about the travelers that came before you, watch a video on the history of the lodge or take a free tour from a Forest Service Ranger.
After a full day of exploration, meander down the mountain, perhaps stopping at The Crooked Tree Tavern at Cooper Spur Lodge on the way home. A century ago, after a successful summit of Mt Hood, adventurers would gather to commemorate and celebrate their grand accomplishments with food and drink. The historic North Face Inn, now part of Cooper Spur Resort, was the location of many such gatherings, which are now showcased in pictures and memorabilia on the walls of the Tavern.
On Thursday, rest up from your historic mountain summit with a relaxing day strolling through the shops in downtown Hood River, or head to the Waterfront Park to watch the wind sports enthusiasts play. In the evening, head up to the Hood River Middle School for the Gorge Grown Farmer’s Market with live music, food carts, and cooking classes from 4-7pm. Grab a blanket and some chairs, perhaps a bottle of wine, and head across the street from the Market to Jackson Park for an outdoor concert. The Hood River Lions Club hosts Families in the Park concert series every Thursday in August from 7-9pm. Its a great way to cut loose, or just relax before heading back to the city in the morning, just in time for a leisurely weekend at home!