Oregon's Mt. Hood Territory - Driving Itineraries

Flying High In Oregon - 300 Miles - 4 Days

While Oregon is not the birthplace of Amelia Earhart or the Wright Brothers, it is the home of the world's largest airfreight company, Evergreen International Aviation. The Pacific Northwest's rich history as a shipping and trading route (and former headquarters for Boeing in Seattle) has brought a love of airplanes and other forms of transportation to the area, which can now be enjoyed by visitors worldwide.

From 1905 to 1920 Oregonians witnessed some of the world's most daring airship and airplane exhibitions. Renowned aviators or "Birdmen" spent considerable time in Oregon performing at thrilling exhibitions throughout the state. These flights galvanized Oregon's attention on the development of aviation and set the stage for the dramatic events that followed.

By 1930 Portland had an airport and regular transportation services. The 1930's were also the era of Tex Rankin—a triumphant barnstorming figure who was often accompanied by women wing walkers as well as women pilots.

Start in Vancouver, Washington with a visit to the Pearson Air Museum and Officers' Row, including the Ulysses S. Grant and George Marshall Houses. Head south to the Portland suburb of Milwaukie, with a delicious homestyle American lunch at The Bomber Restaurant, a Portland-area landmark since 1947, boasting a real, vintage B-17 bomber, "flying" above the restaurant. Leave a little time to see the "Wings of Freedom" museum just outside the restaurant, including the restored nose of the B17. For the truly adventurous, spend the afternoon in Molalla jumping out of a plane at 10,000 ft, with a parachute and a knowledgeable instructor attached - Skydive Oregon).

Check into a local B&B or riverfront hotel for the night. Travel to McMinnville via Wilsonville, Woodburn or Salem. Drive through the rolling hills and wine country (and you might need some good wine after your skydiving experience! to the Evergreen Aviation Museum, for a look at many fine vintage aircraft including Oregon's newest acquisition, The Spruce Goose. Enjoy McMinnville's lovely city parks, Linfield College campus and old town, 3rd St. including the rooftop bar at McMenamins' Hotel Oregon. Use scenic hwy 18 west to the beautiful Oregon Coast and detour a few miles north to Tillamook and enjoy the Tillamook Air Museum before eating a dinner of local seafood and cruising the Pacific Coast Hwy south to Newport or Lincoln City for a night at a cozy beachfront B & B or hotel. After an easy drive south to visit the cute harbor town of Florence, turn in at Hwy 126 to Eugene and the Oregon Aviation Museum in the state's second largest city and stay the night before heading back to Portland.

The Flying Colors of Spring

Begin your trip in the village of Sandy, 20 miles east of Portland in the foothills of Mt. Hood, and experience the unique Oral Hull 5-sense Garden of Enchantment, maintained by and for blind people. Have a whiff of lavender, a taste of stevia while listening to wind chimes and water features. Loop around to Hwy 211 and visit Philip Foster Farm’s Heritage Garden, an 1847 National Historic Register farm with heritage apple orchard, garden and the oldest lilac tree in Oregon. Twenty miles west, in the breezy city of Portland, take a stroll in Washington Park, home of the International Rose Test Garden, with hundreds of varieties of roses, yielding spectacular blooms from late May through July, and the Japanese Garden, once heralded by a Japanese ambassador as being the most authentic Japanese garden in America. Enjoy one of many cafes on nearby 23rd St., a shopping, eating, people-watching mecca.

Check in at your Portland area hotel and, the next morning, stop at the Classical Chinese Garden, in the heart of Portland’s China Town. Though only a city block, you will forget you are in Portland and feel magically transported to the Orient. Drive south the next morning on Hwy 43 to the Berry Botanical Garden, a former private garden with beautiful grounds and a fascinating seed library. Continue south to the town of West Linn, for lunch at the Tualatin River Nursery & Coffeehouse, an old farmhouse converted into a nursery, café and garden art center. Take a stroll along the Tualatin River after lunch and visit a True-Value Hardware Store with a nursery oasis hidden in the back of the store. Keep south to the town of Canby, where flower farms abound, bursting with ribbons of tulip and daffodil color in March/April, and peonies in May/June.

Check in at a local area hotel for the night and the next day, take scenic Hwy 213, past Molalla to the charming town of Silverton and the astounding new Oregon Garden, boasting 65 acres of manicured, wetland, Pacific Northwest, rose, water, conifer and other amazing gardens. Arrange to spend the day exploring this Oregon treasure before dining in Silverton and heading for home.

The Antique Loop - Sophisticates, pack-rats and junk collectors alike will enjoy antiquing from Portland to the Northern Willamette Valley via Oregon's countryside...

Sellwood is Portland’s premiere antique district, with over 10 blocks of antique stores, malls and restaurants. Whether you’re shopping for dishware, collectibles or a new armoire or entertainment center, bring your pick-up truck, SUV (or moving van) to truly benefit from the interesting home furnishings to be found here. Enjoy a hearty ethnic lunch of Greek, Italian, Mexican or pan-Asian food and hit the shops again (on Friday night, don’t forgo evening wine tasting sessions at Vino). Head a few miles to Lake Oswego on Hwy 43 and check in at one of Lake Oswego’s many lodging properties, then check out a performance at the Lakewood Center for the Arts.

The next day, scour Lake Oswego for upscale, elegant antique and home decorating shops, and don't miss the new Lake View shopping district. (Plan at least one extra day during the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts, mid-June.) Loop around to I-205 more antiquing at Sunnyside Commons, an antique mall and restaurant housed in a complex of restored 1903 houses. Check in at an area hotel (ask about seasonal lodging packages) and sleep well, because the next morning will take you out into the Oregon countryside. Drive on Hwy 224 to Estacada, via an antique store called “Pack Rat’s…” (and great baked goods and lattes at Harmony Baking Co.)

Take scenic hwy, 211 20 miles south to Molalla and don’t miss the fun, fabulous Jan’s Katch All Miniature Town and Collectibles. Loop around to Aurora, a charming town that is on the National Register of Historic Places. In other words, the town and the contents of its stores are unique antiques. Check in at a quaint B&B before a last day of shopping and fine dining in Aurora. Then head home to arrange your new purchases.

Walking (Skiing, Boarding, Shoeing, Sledding and Sleigh Riding) in a Winter Wonderland - 60 Miles - 3 Days

Whether you love to partake of winter sports day and night, hole up by a fireplace with a good book and cup of cocoa or do a bit of both, you needn't go far.

Begin in Welches and arrange a dog sled tour around nearby Frog Lake. Head east to Government Camp, where lodging choices include several inns, motels and B & Bs for romance or personal retreat. Now is the time to explore Oregon's winter wonderland. Mt. Hood SkiBowl offers skiing and snowboarding with a vertical drop of 1,500 ft, ski-school, inner tubing and horse-drawn sleigh rides for singles, couples and families (offers childcare). Enjoy a thoroughly alpine meal of sauerkraut soup and beef goulash at Multorpor Ski Lodge East and go out again to experience the largest night skiing area in North America! End the evening with a home brewed craft beer at Mt. Hood Brewing Co.

Timberline Lodge, the historic 1937 hotel dedicated by FDR and featured in the movie The Shining sits at the 6,000 ft elevation level, perched on the side of Mt. Hood. Timberline's roaring 2-story stone fireplace is the perfect hot chocolate spot. Or get your own fireplace room and watch the snow pile up outside your window. The adjoining ski area boasts a 3,590 ft vertical drop for skiers and boarders, from a high elevation of 8,540 ft. Timberline offers snowshoeing and ski school for kids. For cross-country skiing, try one of Summit Ski Area's 15 groomed trails near Government Camp. This ski area also has inner tubing and lessons for the beginner. At a 320 ft vertical drop, this is the place to learn how to ski! On the east side of Mt. Hood is Mt. Hood Meadows. With a 4,000 ft vertical drop, Meadows caters to families and singles alike, with a ski school, childcare and plenty of nightlife - 9 restaurant operations and 2 bars.

Whatever your interest in taking a winter escape, Mt. Hood has something for you. (And, for snow-shy drivers, there is shuttle service from Portland to Welches, Government Camp and Timberline.)

The End Was Only The Beginning... 30 Miles - 2 Days

Oregon City, 15 miles southeast of Portland on the Willamette River, was a promised land for the pioneers. As capital of the Northwest Territory (spanning to the Rockies, current-day British Columbia and N. California), this is where they came to stake their claims and start their new lives.

Start your exploration with a living history interpretation at the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, where interpreters take you through the process of loading up and heading out to Oregon. Then, travel to the hilltop district and Museum of the Oregon Territory, where the lives of the early settlers are displayed. Take the 1-mile walk along the bluff promenade overlooking Willamette Falls, site of the first magazine and newspaper recycling plant under Oregon's maverick governor, Tom McCall in the early 70s.

Ride the 90 ft Oregon City Municipal Elevator, one of 2 municipal elevators in the world, to the downtown area, where hobby, antique, model train shops and used furniture stores await you as does McMenamins' fine brews and pub-grub in a restored 1-room church with river views. Ride the elevator back to the hilltop and continue to the end of the promenade and 7 th St. for a tour of the Dr. John McLoughlin House. Dr. McLoughlin was known as "the Father of Oregon" for his hospitality toward the bedraggled pioneers. Across the street, take time to browse the Oregon City Antique Mall (one of 25 antique stores in Clackamas County) and café.

Continuing up 7 th, visit the Carnegie Arts Center, a fine-art gallery, children's museum and coffee house in a historic brick library. Visit two more historic homes, the Ermatinger and Stevens-Crawford Houses. Check in at a cozy historic B & B or one of two riverfront hotels. Groups or large families can arrange for an Indian salmon bake dinner and evening Willamette River tour in the summer months. The next morning, take a tour of the Willamette Falls Locks Museum on the west side of the river, site of the oldest lock system in the west. Then continue to Willamette Falls Drive - a great shopping street - and make a lunch stop at Tualatin River Nursery, an old farmhouse that doubles as a garden art center and café. Follow lunch with a look at the greenhouse or stroll on the lush, green banks of the Tualatin River before heading home.

The Road Less Traveled - 180 Miles - 3 Days

Many pioneers took the Barlow Road around Mt. Hood and you too can follow this "alternative route" to the end of the Oregon Trail. The Columbia River was a treacherous white water ride to the end of the Oregon Trail, on a wooden raft loaded with wagons and supplies. No wonder it claimed the lives of 10% of its travelers. So, when Sam Barlow and Joel Palmer carved their toll road around Mt. Hood to Oregon City, it was an instant success. The Barlow Road Driving Tour on an audio CD is available at the Regional Visitor Information Centers and many museums in the area.

Starting in the windsurfing mecca of Hood River on I-84, wind your way up Highway 35 through the "Fruit Loop," a glorious landscape of green hills and rolling fruit orchards with snowcapped Mt. Hood in the background. The Barlow Rd. sites begin with Barlow Pass Summit on Hwy35 and Pioneer Woman's Grave. Continue to Laurel Hill on the South side of Hwy26, 1 mile before Government Camp. Take a short walk to the upper chute of Laurel Hill, where wagons were emptied and lowered on a pulley. Head up to Timberline Lodge for a look at this historic hotel and the Palmer Glacier. Joel Palmer climbed this glacier to scout the route to the valley. Ride the Magic Mile chair lift for your own stellar views of the Cascades.

Visit the W. Barlow Tollgate before Rhododendron. This was the last tollgate to be operated on the Barlow Rd. Stop in the charming town of Sandy for lunch, antiquing, wine-tasting and more great Mt. Hood views from Jonsrud Point. Drive past rural farming towns to the Philip Foster Farm, a National Historic Register 1847 Pioneer farm, boasting the oldest lilac in Oregon. Here try your hand at pioneer-era laundry, weighing and measuring and building with Lincoln Logs. Next is Damascus and a stop at the Pioneer Craft School, where modern crafters are taught to do things in the old way. Continue to Carver and the oldest pioneer cabin in Oregon. Finally, stop in Oregon's original capital, Oregon City - at the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, Museum of the Oregon Territory and Willamette Falls Locks Museum for glimpses of early settlers' life on the Willamette River.

Gorgeous Gorges and Hot Hot Springs - 180 Miles - 3 Days - Some roads will be closed for winter

They did not designate the West Cascades Scenic Byway a National Scenic Byway for nothing! Each view is more breathtaking than the last on this winding road from Estacada to Eugene. And any local will tell you the fabulous fishing, rafting, camping and boating are some of Oregon's best kept secrets.

Begin your drive in the small town of Estacada in the Mt. Hood National Forest, 20 miles east of Clackamas. (Before you leave Estacada, don't miss the eleven public murals on the sides of various buildings or the morning lattes and muffins at the locally owned Harmony Baking Co.) The upper Clackamas River Gorge, several miles east, consists of a dark blue river (boasting Class 3-4 rapids in spring and summer and 5 qualified rafting outfitters who run the river) flanked by a breathtaking wall of Oregon evergreens!

Just past Ripplebrook Ranger Station, detour to Bagby Hot Springs for a short hike in to a natural hot spring. Continue down service road 46 to Detroit Lake for fishing, camping, water skiing and boating. Detour to Breitenbush Hot Springs, a complex of mineral hot springs, saunas, cabins and a welcoming day lodge. Continue south on Hwy 22 through the dense Willamette National Forest to Hwy 126 and follow the McKenzie River to the Cougar Reservoir. Drive in along the reservoir seven miles and take a short hike to Cougar Hot Springs, which has five natural pools, perched on a hillside, descending in elevation and temperature to meet the cool waters below. Go west on Hwy 126 past the Goodpasture covered bridge to Eugene and Springfield.

Home Made in Oregon - Naturally! 40 Miles - 2 Days

Just southeast of Portland the Christmas tree country of Oregon blends with the foothills of the Cascades Mountain Range and Mt. Hood National Forest. It is also rich with history and creative tradition - from craft making to wine making.

Located between Mt. Hood and Oregon's original capital Oregon City, primarily on US Hwy 26, this area is highly accessible from I-5, I-205, downtown Portland and Portland International Airport. The scenic route, on Hwy 224/212, allows for sweeping landscapes of locally-owned tree farms, old barns, nurseries, grain elevators and some "hidden treasure" attractions…

The foothills of Mt. Hood are unique and vital communities for arts, crafts and gardening with opportunities to watch art, wine and food being created, truly a homemade Oregon experience.

Sandy is part of the historic Barlow Road, the last leg of the Oregon Trail, and also part of the scenic Mt. Hood/Columbia River Gorge Loop.

Take Hwy 212 east from Clackamas, into the rolling farmlands and Christmas tree country. Stop at a pioneer-era craft school in Damascus, which still produces crafts for sale. Schedule your trip to fall on a graduation day at Guide Dogs for the Blind in Boring, a unique and memorable experience of the bonding between blind people and their faithful companions. Head in to the charming village of Sandy, with a tour of the Maiden Bronze Foundry and Gallery, the largest bronze foundry in the U.S. Also in Sandy, enjoy fabulous views of Mt. Hood from Jonsrud Point, over the Sandy River. Visit the Garden of Enchantment at Oral Hull Park for the Blind, a 5-sense garden planted and maintained by blind and sighted volunteers.

Have a taste of stevia plant and walk among the fragrances of lavender. Stop in at Wasson Brothers' Winery and taste their speciality - sweet Oregon berry wines. Let the sweetness continue at the Oregon Candy Farm, east of Sandy, where you may watch the candy maker through a large glass window, spinning confections in the old tradition. Try your hand at trout fishing, a very popular pastime among Oregonians, in the casting ponds of Rainbow Trout Farm (April-October. Equipment and tackle provided) and finish your day with miniature golfing at the Mountain Air Mini Golf and hiking in the Wildwood Recreation Area, a BLM park and preserve with unique wetlands stream watch viewing and indigenous plant life.

The Bountiful Harvest - All Year Long! 70 Miles - 2 Days

Fall is the time when Oregon's trees turn brilliant shades of red, yellow and gold, the corn is shucked, the pumpkins grow, the vine grapes ferment and the harvest comes in. And, in the Northern Willamette Valley, it is truly a bountiful harvest! But every season is a bountiful harvest for this area. In Winter, this is the Christmas Tree Capital of North America, boasting Christmas tree farms for as far as the eye can see. Early spring brings daffodil and tulip fields and late spring brings peonies and other colorful blooms.

Begin your trip in the farming town of Canby (come in from the west on the historic 6-car Canby Ferry), with harvest festivals at Fir Point Farms, Hoffman's Dairy Garden and The Flower Farmer. Pumpkin patches, corn mazes, spooky tunnels and petting zoos are all part of the family-oriented fun! Ride the miniature scale train at The Flower Farmer, out to the night-time pumpkin patch. Or stop by Hoffman's in October for the Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off and Festival.. Stop by St. Josef's Wine Cellar for a taste of Europe, in its setting, décor and its red and white wines. Enjoy (or take out) a meal cooked with locally grown, home-made products at Tres Café in Canby's quaint downtown area. Enjoy the beautiful blooms at Swan Island Dahlias, the nation's largest dahlia farm, through mid-October and order your bulbs for planting next spring.

Starting in November, this is the place to pick out a good holiday wine (at St. Josef's) and the perfect Christmas tree at one of the wonderful Christmas tree farms. That way you can take a bit of rural Oregon home for the holidays, along with great memories of fun and a rich experience.

And, of course, spring is a beautiful time, with tulips and daffodils in March-April, at the Wooden Shoe Bulb Co. near Woodburn and the Pacific Peony Farm coming into full bloom over Memorial Day. The Flower Farmer's fields bloom from May to September, ushering in the dahlias and, once again, the autumn harvest.


Other Travel Tips: