For locals in the charming and often rainy city of Portland, there’s one thing that excites the community more than a sunny day—one that’s clear enough to see Mt. Hood. There are many places in Portland to catch a glimpse of the stately mountain if you find yourself in town on a fogless day: Catch the five-dollar tram up to Oregon Health and Science University Hospital’s overlook or drive up the West Hills to Pittock Mansion. But to really appreciate the beauty of Mt. Hood, you should drive out to Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory.
If you’re visiting Portland and want to take a break from the city, rent a car and set your sights on The Territory. In this little corner of Oregon, there are even more lovable quirks to discover as you search for the mountain’s most picture-perfect angle.
Fun Things to Do in Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory
Whether you’re bringing the kids or hitting the wine trail, there’s something fun for everybody in Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory.
Mt. Hood is the worlds’ second-most climbed mountain, attracting to its summit over 10,000 climbers every year. The summit can be reached through independent trails or with a guide service. If climbing to the 11,245-foot peak seems too hard, there are plenty of other beautiful and easy trails throughout The Territory. Head for Wildwood Recreation Site, or the Camassia Natural Area, which blooms with small purple flowers in April and early May. There are also plenty of biking trails that will take you through vineyards, along the Clackamas River, and through the backroads of the Mt. Hood National Forest.
Don’t have time for a hike, but still want a great view of Mt. Hood and the surrounding forest? Visit Jonsrud Viewpoint for a quick photo opportunity.
There’s no need to worry about leaving Portland’s restaurant scene behind when you head toward The Territory. For breakfast, in the town of Sandy grab a pastry at the kitschy Tollgate Inn Restaurant and Bakery or try the artisanal bread and pastries at Oregon City’s Grano Bakery and Market. For a meal with a view, head to the Stone Cliff Inn, a steakhouse that overlooks the Clackamas River and also happens to have a famously scenic parking lot: Just beyond the asphalt, you’ll find a mossy forest so picturesque, it was used as a shooting location in the movie Twilight.
If you’re in Oregon City for dinner, you can get a drink at Arch Bridge Taphouse and have Korean food from the next-door restaurant Soban delivered right to your table. And for pizza with fresh ingredients, head across the bridge to downtown Lake Oswego and try Pizzeria sul Lago.
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Spend the Night
When it comes to places to stay, the Mt. Hood Territory runs the gamut. With over 2,000 campsites, log cabin bed and breakfasts like Hidden Woods, and larger hotels like Resort at the Mountain, there are many traditional accommodations to suit your fancy.
For an overnight experience way off-the-beaten-path, there’s Tiny House Village. The cluster of miniature homes offers travelers the chance to try tiny-house living out for themselves. Each house is less than 300 square feet, but all offer a full bathroom and kitchen. If you’ll need more space than that, there are plenty of dream-worthy vacation rentals in The Territory that offer private accommodations, like the woodsy Forrest Lodge located in the remote community of Rhododendron.
Shop in Oregon City
Not only will you find some of The Territory’s best restaurants and brew houses in Oregon City, you’ll also find great shopping. A recent winner of the Great American Main Street Award, this small city offers a lot of fun for the casual shopper at its many independently owned shops. Vintage lovers can find their next great statement piece at Refinery, pick up jeans at Denim Salvage, or try on all the hats at the one-of-a-kind shop You Can Leave Your Hat On. If you’re into high fashion, visit The House of Rose, where you’ll find beautiful tailor-made designer coats and suits, as well as leather accessories.
Ride the Oregon City Municipal Elevator
If you’re spending some time in Oregon City, a ride on the UFO-shaped Municipal Elevator is a must. The elevator was built to connect downtown to Oregon City’s upper-level McLoughlin neighborhood. Riding the elevator is totally free, but it doesn’t go anywhere without its friendly operator onboard, so make sure to check the operating hours. Once at the top, you’ll find an observation deck with information on how this strange structure came to be, but the best part of riding it is walking along the McLoughlin Promenade. Well-kept by the community, the promenade is a lovely walking path to take in views of Willamette Falls.
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Visit the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center
Hundreds of years ago, Oregon City was arguably one of the most popular destinations for American travelers. For those that embarked on the Oregon Trail, Oregon City and the fertile Willamette Valley were worth the dangerous cross-country journey by wagon. At the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, visitors can learn all about the trail. The museum has plenty of interactive exhibits that will give you a sense of the kind of life people lived on the trail, and kids especially will love making their own candles and Lincoln Log cabins.
More from Smarter Travel
- Portland, Oregon vs. Portland, Maine: A Tale of Two Cities
- 10 Funniest Small Town Names in North America
- 10 Most Romantic Small Towns in North America
Jamie Ditaranto visited Oregon’s Mt. Hood territory as a guest of the Clackamas County Tourism & Cultural Affairs. Follow her on Twitter @jamieditaranto.
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