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Exploring Portland...Mountains

Updated on August 18, 2015

For Outdoor Adventure, Head to the Mountains

Within an hour from Portland, you can be on Mt. Hood, Oregon's highest mountain and one the tallest in the nation. Mt. Hood is a dormant volcano, originally names Wy'East by the Multnomah Native American Tribe. Mt. St. Helens is across the river in Washington, a volcano that erupted just short of forty years ago. Don't forget the Cascade or Coastal Ranges. If you're looking for outdoor adventure, the mountains surrounding Portland have it all.

Winter time brings plenty of snow for skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling or just a good snowball fight. In the summer, take in the beauty of wildflowers in the spring, miles of hiking trails, biking, or just a country drive. Check below for more details about what each mountain has to offer.

What is it about the mountains that draw us in? Panoramic views in all directions, from the deep valleys and lakes below to other mountains in the distance. After a day of play, you get great satisfaction about the effort it took. Sitting around a campfire at night, you can feel nature surrounding all around you. It feels good to be unique with the nature and feel inner peace and contentment. Won't you join me on the mountain.

Winter Fun in the Mountains

Winter on the mountain and you think of skiing and snowboarding. Some of the best can be found close to Portland. But there are other treats as well including snowmobiling, tubing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and snow camping.


Home to 4 great resort areas, Mt. Hood has everything mentioned above.

Mt. Hood Meadows sprawls across the sunny southeast side of Mt. Hood with tons of snow and acres of trails. You'll find downhill skiing, cross country skiing, snowmobiling and more, plus a small community of restaurants and shops.

Timberline Lodge is a National Historical Landmark offering overnight lodging and fine dining. It operates year round with skiing in the summer on it's Palmer snowfield.

Mt. Hood Skibowl is the closest to Portland. Skibowl is America's largest night ski area with 34 lighted runs.

Summit Ski Area is the oldest and easiest to access. Right off Highway 26, you'll find lots of tubing fun complete with a lift. For an inexpensive day on the slopes, this is the place to go.


In 1980, Mt. St. Helens erupted, releasing gases trapped inside the volcano upwards of 1300 feet. The blast obliterated 230 square miles, illing elk, deer and other wildlife as well as 57 people. After the eruption, only a moonscape remained. Today four visitor's centers are open for discovery.

There are no ski resorts on Mt. St. Helens, but a nice day provides an excellent opportunity to climb the mountain. From November 1 - March 31, no permits are required to climb the mountain. With roads closed in winter, the closest you will have to start at Marble Mountain Snow-Park.

Marble Mountain Snow Park is also an excellent starting point for snowmobilers, cross country skiers, and snowshoers. Marble Mountain offers 49 miles of trail for skiing and snowshoeing and 30 miles for snowmobiling.


Summer Fun in the Mountains

What you remember as a narrow chute that winds its way through trees heavy with snow is actually a rocky, switchback hike lined with wildflowers, fresh evergreen trees and warm sunshine overhead. Summer brings a new set of adventures including hiking, mountain biking, boating, camping, climbing, backpacking, horseback riding, fishing and even skiing.


Two of the resorts who make their name in the winter also host plenty of adventure in the summer as well.

Timberline Lodge is the only winter resort that doesn't change completely with seasons. Mt. Hood's Palmer Glacier, a permanent snowfield, provides the longest ski season in North America. Timberline also serves as the base for climbing Mt. Hood.

Skibowl is the mecca for activity in the summer. They offer 20 attractions that run all summer long including alpine slides, Indy carts, 100-foot bungee tower, 500-foot zipline and much more. Skibowl also rents mountain bikes and offers guided tours, repairs and scheduled races.


Summer is the time to visit one of four visitor's centers on Mt. St. Helens. Learn about the eruption and changing landscape through movies, exhibits, interpretive talks, photographs, and viewing areas. Hiking, biking, climbing, horseback riding, climbing, cave exploration and fishing opportunities in the area surrounding the volcano provide unforgettable views and fabulous recreation. For a real treat, try a helicopter tour of the mountain.

YouTube on the Mountain

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