The state's highest peak, 11,240ft Mt Hood pops into view over much of northern Oregon whenever there's a sunny day, exerting an almost magnetic tug on skiers, hikers and sightseers. In summer, wildflowers bloom on the mountainsides and hidden ponds shimmer in blue, making for some unforgettable hikes; in winter, downhill and cross-country skiing dominates people's minds and bodies. Timberline Lodge, a handsome wooden gem from the 1930s, offers glorious shelter and (to guests and nonguests) refreshments all year – it shouldn't be missed.
Mt Hood is accessible year-round on Hwy 26 from Portland (56 miles), and from Hood River (44 miles) on Hwy 35. Together with the Columbia River Hwy, these routes comprise the Mt Hood Loop, a popular scenic drive. Government Camp, the center of business on the mountain, is at the pass over Mt Hood.