I am a lucky girl to call the Pacific Northwest home. These parts are gorgeous, I tell ya. One of the things I love about living in Portland is that even the shortest of road trips yield huge rewards. We’re maximizing our weekends this summer to explore this exciting new region.
A few months back I asked around for camping recommendations. And thanks to some solid advice from some Pacific Northwesterners, we made a short list of six or so places to look into for summer camping. We ended up booking four trips, each one taking us out from Portland in a different direction. We spent last weekend at Lost Lake in Mt. Hood National Forest.
Lost Lake is a short two hour drive from Portland… although between traffic, a pit stop for a bottle of wine and a scolding from the Sherif (no ticket!), it took us about 3 hours from door to door. Regardless, I am amazed at the level of wilderness we can achieve with such a short drive, relatively speaking. (Us Southern Californians would have to put in minimum of 6 hours of drive-time to be in such a place.) The drive from Portland takes you up the gorge to Hood River and then through the hills and into the Mt. Hood National Forest. It’s scenic, to say the least. When we arrived on Friday night, we went straight to the lake to take in the view of Mt. Hood. I mean…
After playing around by the lake for a bit, we drove to the A-Loop, where our campsite was. The site was petite and reminded me of somewhere a hobbit might enjoy – little steps leading in different directions, large boulders covered in moss, ferns growing all around. It was perfect for our little family of four.
The next morning we headed out to explore and ended up walking the 3 mile trail around the lake, which tuckered us all out enough to warrant a family nap in the tent – a rare and beautiful thing. Recharged, we rented a canoe and tooled around the lake until one of our kids begged long enough to turn back for fear of the big waves. Admittedly, it was very windy and we were pelted with water each time a wind wave smacked the canoe. After returning the canoe, we found a little beach to swim from. While the air was chilly, the water was rather warm. So, we all took a dip, shared two miniature towels and then raced to the campsite to sit by the fire. After dinner, the kids cruised around the campsite on bikes while we strolled with glasses of wine. It was a great day.
On Sunday we packed up and headed down to the lake for another Mt. Hood viewing. And the calm waters enticed us to grab the bathing suits and head out on the water again before hitting the road. We broke up the short drive with a stop in Hood River to make a quick picnic lunch, hit the bathrooms, play on the waterfront and get a sweet gelato treat.
- Lakeshore Trail Hike – this 3+ mile trail goes all the way around the lake. It’s almost completely flat, making it great for little feet.
- Canoeing – the store offers rowboat, canoe, kayak, SUP and pedal boat rentals for $13 per hour.
- Swimming – the lake water was warm enough to swim in. It actually felt warmer than the air temperature, during our visit at least.
- Chill – While the campground and resort were completely full, it didn’t feel overrun with people. Which for those of us who love to “get away from it all” is a very good thing.
I highly recommend a visit. Even if you’re not the “camping type”, go for the day – it’s worth the scenic trip!