Mount Hood Highway
Starting out along Powell Boulevard east from Portland, US-26—now dubbed the Mount Hood Highway—follows, albeit in reverse, the final leg of the historic Oregon Trail. Passing first through the comically named photo-stop town of Boring, the road some 20 mi (32 km) east of Portland reaches Sandy (pop. 11,326), a boisterous gateway to the mountains. Nestled in berry-farm country, Sandy is full of ski shops, pizza parlors, and other enterprises geared for outdoor enthusiasts, but east of Sandy’s lively commerce the road ambles through pastureland and into the foothills of the Cascades.
East of Sandy, oddly named towns along US-26 hold good places to eat and drink before or after a day out in the mountains. The Barlow Trail Roadhouse (69580 US-26, 503/622-1662), housed in an old log cabin in Welches, is one of the many little wide spots clustered at the base of Mt. Hood, drawing day-tripping Portlanders for serious carbo-loading.
If you’re planning to get out of your car and explore Mt. Hood, make sure you stop beforehand at the Mount Hood National Forest ZigZag Ranger Station (70220 E. US-26, 503/622-3191), in Zigzag, operated by the USFS and loaded with maps, brochures, and other information on the mountain and surrounding recreational hot spots.
Enticing though it is, snowcapped Mt. Hood is also a difficult and dangerous peak to climb—there is no trail to the 11,247-ft (3,428 m) summit, and all routes require a high degree of technical ability and specialized equipment. There are lots of fine hikes around its base, however.
Just off US-26 at the southern foot of Mt. Hood, Government Camp is but another wide spot in the road with a range of food and drink options. For espresso, microbrews, sandwiches, pizzas, and salads, stop at the Mount Hood Brewing Co. (503/272-3172) at the west end of town. Another good stop is the Huckleberry Inn (503/272-3325), famous for its wild huckleberry pies, huckleberry pancakes, and huckleberry shakes. If you’re unable to move after a berry feast, the inn also offers rooms for $95 and up.
Government Camp’s main attraction is the Mount Hood Skibowl (503/272-3206), a year-round recreation center with skiing and snowboarding in winter and mountain biking and hiking in summer, plus guided horseback trips, go-karts, zip lines, and a 100-ft (30.5-m) bungee trampoline.