Reader Question: Columbia River Gorge And Mt. Hood In One Day?

Leo contacted me on Tripadviser with the following question:

Hi, I saw your comment in this topic: tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g52024-i238-k6077162-Po… and that is just what we are planning to do. We want to stay for at least 4 days(5 nights) visit downtown Portland 1 day, 1 day CR Gorge, 1 day Mount Hood/Canon Beach. Would you say 1 day is enough in downtown Portland? Could our day trip to CR Gorge & Mt Hood be done in 1 day? BTW, we’re making a 4 week road trip in september starting & ending in SFO .

Thank you for your time.

Portland makes a great home base for some excellent day trips.  The Columbia River Gorge and Mt. Hood are both great day trips, but should they be done in a single day trip?  

The short answer to that question is probably not, but that depends, especially if you enjoy hiking. If it were me I would probably split these into two days, but it is possible to do it in one day and many people do.  Here is what a typical day trip to the Gorge looks like for me:

The Gorge in particular has some amazing hiking.  Two of the best are the Oneonta Gorge Hike and Multnomah Falls.  Check out www.portlandhikers.org for a full list of Columbia River Gorge Hikes.  Pick one hike and do it on your way to Hood River.  For most people I would suggest the Multnomah Falls hike since Oneonta requires some wading in water.

In Hood River, September is the apple and pear harvest.  In Hood River I would drive the Fruit Loop and stop at some of the local orchards and wineries.  One of my favorite stops on the Fruit Loop is the Apple Valley Country Store.  They have some pretty amazing baked goods.  On the weekends during the summer Apple Valley BBQ also has tent set up and is serving up some great food.  Try the ribs, they are amazing.

I would then finish my day off exploring downtown Hood River and having dinner at Full Sail Brewing.  All of this makes for a full day and does not leave much time for including a drive up to Mt. Hood.

Mt. Hood on its own also makes a great day trip, but most of the activities in the summer at Mt. Hood center around hiking, which there is a lot of.  If you want to enjoy some of the great hiking up there then I would make this a separate day trip.  If hiking is not your thing then it does not make a whole lot of sense to carve out a separate day in your itinerary to drive up there.

That leaves you two choices, either skip it or include it in your trip to the gorge.  It is a one hour drive from Portland to Hood River and about another hour from Hood River to Mt. Hood. I think it is possible to squeeze in a trip to Timberline Lodge into your day.  Timberline Lodge is beautiful and the views up there are amazing.  If you decide to squeeze Mt. Hood into your itinerary I would suggest still stopping at Multnomah Falls but skip the hike to the top.  Have lunch in Hood River and then drive out to Mt. Hood and stop at some of the wineries on your way out.

Bottom line is that I am not a fan of combining this two activities but it is possible.

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2 thoughts on “Reader Question: Columbia River Gorge And Mt. Hood In One Day?

  1. First of all, congrats on your informative website. Great job!
    We(both in our early 50’s) would love to explore both Mt Hood and the CR Gorge both on separate days, but since we already planned 4 full days in Portland, i’me afraid we have to skip the hiking and do both on the same day. Or we have to skip our daytrip to Canon Beach. Maybe weather will solve that problem, when it’s bad (coast)weather.
    We will have plenty of hiking during our 4 weeks, so skipping the trails at CR Gorge is a shame, but there will be plenty of other hiking oppurtunities……

    I heard about no self-service at gasstations in OR. What that all about? People “forgot” to pay after filling up??

    No sales tax–> why not?

    When hiking in the woods, are there things to worry about: mosquito’s, rattlers, bears……?????? Is bug repellent a must? Can we hike in shorts?

    Which is the best foodcart in Portland? (Asian-BBQ…..)

    All tips are welcome.

    Thank you all,

    • (1) Don’t skip the coast. The weather in September is terrific and even when it is not the coast is still beautiful.
      (2) There are two sacred cows in Oregon politics, we don’t pump our own gas and we don’t pay sales tax. Any politician that proposes otherwise is asking for hurt.
      (3) There are hundreds of food carts in Portland, I don’t think there is a single best cart but there are some real good ones. Some of my favorites are the Frying Scotsman (see my review http://www.portlandtraveltips.com/2012/12/14/the-best-fish-chips-in-portland-might-be-at-a-food-cart/), Potato Champion, The Brunch Box, KoiFusion, and Whiffie Fried Pies.
      (4) If you are looking for BBQ the best is not at a food cart it is at a place called Podnah’s Pit BBQ.

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