Hood River, Oregon

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With five breweries and a population of only 8,341, Hood River, Oregon has more breweries per capita than any other city in the US, and possibly the world. All have tasting rooms and, combined with the city’s many pubs and bars, beer lovers will never go thirsty here. And the city has numerous excellent restaurants and winery tasting rooms, much public art, and is close to many good hiking trails.

Situated in the Columbia River Gorge, Hood River also is one of the best places in the world for wind-based water sports, such as windsurfing, kiteboarding and, most recently, wing foiling. When the wind is up, the river is packed with the colorful equipment of hundreds of water sports enthusiasts.

Hood River is about a 90-minute drive from Portland, OR and about 4 hours from Seattle. On a weekend trip there, we enjoyed some great views to Mt. Hood as we crossed the Columbia River into Oregon, and stopped en route at Multnomah Falls. We’d last visited over a decade ago on our Columbia River trip in Dirona, so it was fun to return again. The falls are one of Oregon’s most popular tourist destinations, so much so that a time-entry ticket is require to park there.

The striking falls drop 620 feet (189m) in two cascades, an upper of 542 feet (165m) and a lower of 69 feet. A short trail leads to the Multnomah Creek Bridge across the upper fails, built in 1914 and on the National Register of Historic places. The trail continues beyond the bridge up to the top of the falls.


Our next stop was Cascade Locks for lunch. In 1896, a lock and ship canal were built here to allow vessels to navigate past the intense Cascade Rapids, where the river dropped 150 yards (140 m) over a distance of about 2 miles (3.2km). Once the Columbia River was dammed, the lock was no longer needed and was converted into a park.

A decade ago, we moored Dirona at the tiny Port of Cascade Marina and toured the area on foot, stopping at a small café for a view to the Bridge of the Gods spanning the Columbia River. On this trip, we had lunch at the Thunder Island Brewery, that opened a year after our visit. Afterwards, we revisited the old lock and the marina, and then crossed the Bridge of the Gods, something we didn’t do on our previous visit.

The Bridge of the Gods was so-named from Native American legends deriving from a massive landslide over 1,000 years ago that completely blocked the Columbia River. The river gradually eroded the dam, creating a natural stone bridge, the Bridge of the Gods, that eventually collapsed and created Cascade Rapids.


On our Columbia River trip in Dirona a decade ago, we stopped at the Port of Hood River Marina just off the Columbia River. This time, we booked a stay through VRBO at historic Roe-Parker House. Built in 1900, the hillside house has a wonderful view across the city of Hood River to the Columbia River, and is an easy walk into town.


That evening, we walked down into town along the 2nd Street Stairs past the Statton Rose Garden in the compact Winans Park, and made our first Hood River beer sampling stop streetside at 64oz Taphouse on Oak St. We continued down to the Columbia River shore for dinner at Ferment Brewing Company with a view to river, passing some hundreds of stacked orchard boxes on the way. Hood River is the country’s largest exporter of pears, and apples, peaches and cherries are amongst the other fruit grown in the area. On our way back home stopped in at Full Sail Brewing’s striking tasting room, also with a Columbia River View. Even late in the evening, the temperature was a toasty 91ºF (32.8k ºC). (We’ve recently started carrying a small temp.fi with, that connect via Bluetooth to an app on our phone and gives us a constant temperature measurement.)


The next day, we had a great lunch on the terrace at Sixth Street Bistro, then walked from Roe-Parker House to the Hood River Pipeline Trail. En route, we crossed over the historic Hood River rail tracks as a group of railbikes were departing. The custom-built two-person railbikes allow people to enjoy the scenery while pedaling along a historic rail route.

The Hood River Pipeline Trail is built onto the penstock between the Powerdale substation and the recently-removed Powerdale dam. The penstock walkway provides a unique walking experience with great views to the Hood River as it crosses and parallels the waterway. We had a great time on the trail and returned to town along the historic tracks we’d earlier seen the railbikes on.


That evening, we had dinner at pFriem Brewery with part-time Hood River resident and avid wind-based watersport fan Louis Lafreniere. Jennifer and Louis worked together on the Internet Explorer Javascript Runtime team at Microsoft.

We finished the day with a stop at River City Saloon, first for a drink at one of their sidewalk picnic tables and later watched the live band The New Prohibitions inside. Across the street from the saloon, we got a giggle out of Artifacts bookstore sign: “Good Books & Bad Art”.


We drove out of town the following day and made two hikes, the first to Tamanawas Falls and the second at the ski resort Mt. Hood Meadows, getting some great views en route to the highest peak in Oregon, 11,239-foot (3,425 m) Mt. Hood.

The Tamanawas Falls trail follows Cold Spring creek to the base of the falls that pour 110 ft (33 m) over a cliff. The 3.4-mile (5.5km) return hike is popular, and we were lucky to snag the last parking spot when we arrived. After our hike, we returned to Government Camp and had lunch on the expansive patio at The Ratskeller.


At Mt. Hood Meadows we rode the Stadium Express lift up to 5,958 ft (1,816m), then hiked the Lower Wizard trail to the top of the Mt. Hood Express lift at 6,546 ft (1,995 m) with great view to Mt. Hood along the way. Snow still covered much of the ground, even in late June. We were surprised to see snow-grooming equipment in action this late in the season. Nearby, we came across two snowmobiles that had been parked side by side and had later tipped over into each other due to the uneven snow melt.


Taking a break from brewery meals, we had an excellent dinner on the terrace at 3 Rivers Grill in Hood River, then shared a wine-tasting flight at Evoke Winery, and a final glass of wine street-side at wonderfully private table at Hood River Common House.

We returned home past a very old but well-maintained Chevrolet truck, and the expansive terrace of the large patio of the Oak Street Pub. While we were away, Spitfire was getting good care and attention at Wagly Pet Campus in Bellevue.


On our way home to Seattle the next day, we stopped by the Port of Hood River Marina to watch several kitesurfers, then crossed the Hood River Bridge to “The Hatchery”, one of the best viewing points in the area. A few wing foilers and windsurfers were out, but it was still a little early in the day and the area would get much busier later in the afternoon when the winds came up.


After a scenic drive along the northern Columbia River shore, we made our penultimate brewery stop of the trip for a delicious pizza lunch at Backwoods Brewing Company in tiny Carson. The brewery is a bit out of the way so we weren’t expecting it to be very busy, but it was nearly full with no seating available outside.


The Bonneville Lock and Dam, built in the 1930s, is the first of eleven dams in the Columbia River stairway and annually generates 4,466 GWh of power. Construction of this dam submerged the Cascade Rapids, making the Cascade Lock redundant. When we last tried to tour the Bonneville Dam Visitor Center on our Columbia River cruise, we’d arrived by bicycle and weren’t allowed in—only those travelling by motor vehicle are permitted access. So when we passed by the visitor center on the north side of the Columbia, we took the opportunity to visit. It turns out there actually are two separate visitor centers, each accessible only from opposite sides of the Columbia River.

The area just upriver of the dam is the best place in Washington to shore-fish for American Shad, and the waterway was lined with fishers. We spent several hours at the visitor center, watching spawning salmon work upstream through the ladders, and taking a tour of the powerhouse. When we finally dragged ourselves out to continue home, traffic was stop-and-go along I-5 due to a major accident. We decided to give the accident time to clear and stopped off for dinner at Ram Brewery in Lacey.


Our route to Hood River is shown on the interactive map below:

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