On the south side of Mt. Hood at 3,600 feet elevation is Trillium Lake, ringed with fragrant conifers, flower-filled boggy meadows, and a flat, family-friendly, barrier-free loop trail. If you’re looking for a late summer or early autumn overnight camping trip near Portland, this should be near the top of your list.
Where to Hike
Trillium Lake Loop Trail is 2 miles round trip and circumnavigates the lake. It’s a great choice for kids or anyone who desires a flat, easy, beautiful trail. This trail is barrier-free, a combination of wooden boardwalk and very finely compacted rock, making it fully “hikeable” for strollers and wheelchairs. Pack your camera and binoculars–there are great views of Mt. Hood from several points along this trail, and the boardwalk portion of trail carries you through wetlands that provide habitat for birds. There are a few benches along the trail to rest, watch wildlife, and photograph the mountain’s reflection in the glassy pool.
If you’re camping here, just pick up the trail in the campground. For day-trippers, the loop trail begins and ends at the Trillium Lake dam on the lake’s south end. There’s a $5 day-use fee (or display your Northwest Forest Pass), waived if you are camping at the lake.
ALERT summer 2018: A portion of the boardwalk is closed due to rotting wood. This makes it impossible to hike the trail as a complete loop at this time. The boardwalk is expected to be repaired soon.
Head to the Mt. Hood Brewing Company’s Ice Axe Grill in the nearby village of Government Camp. They feature their own small-batch ales on cask and nitro, plus tasty pub grub and pizza.
Where to Camp
Trillium Lake Campground. This campground is an ideal getaway for Portland-area families because it hosts campfire programs and nature talks during the summer months. Trillium Lake makes a great base for exploring the trails of Mount Hood, or just paddling around the water. The setting is quiet and peaceful, and no motors are permitted on the lake. Bring a fishing pole; the lake is stocked with trout! Some of the campsites are always first-come, first-served.
- Distance from Portland: 61 miles southeast of Portland (map + driving directions)
- Location: South side of Mount Hood
- Great for: paddling around the lake, fishing (trout!), families.
- Details: 57 campsites for tents or RV’s to 40 feet. No hookups. Potable water, vault toilets.
- Summer rates: $22+ per night
- Open: May through September
- Reservations: 1-(877) 444-6777 / online
Just ten miles from Trillium Lake is Timberline Lodge, a National Historic Landmark on Mt. Hood. You can stop in for a self-guided tour or bite to eat in the pub even if you’re not a guest. Walk its halls and take in the lodge’s story of creation by local blacksmiths, stonemasons and carpenters, from the carved stairwell banisters to the three-story stone fireplace and chimney.