After spending two days in Portland I headed out of the city in search of mountains, trees, blue sky and waterfalls. First stop, PDX to pick up my trusty rental car that I’d drive all the way back to San Francisco. Upon arriving at the rental car center I was reminded that it was Hood to Coast weekend (big running relay race from Mt. Hood to the Oregon Coast) and I had to wait in line with everyone waiting to rent their vans to transport their teams. An hour and a half later, I was finally on the road and headed out to the Columbia River Gorge.
I headed out of Portland on I-84 and to my first stop, Vista House, for my first grand preview of the glorious Columbia River Gorge. The Vista House was built in 1917 as a refuge for travelers to rest and refresh themselves while traveling through the Gorge. Inside the house you can get historical information but I stopped primarily for the epic views and interesting architecture.
Next I headed slightly farther east to Angel’s Rest trailhead for my first taste of many hikes to come on this road trip. Angel’s Rest is a 4.8 miles out and back hike with sweeping views of the Gorge throughout. The dirt trail ascends steadily from the parking lot through a shady forest and crosses a few rocky gravel fields. Eventually the trail reaches Coopey Falls where one can wander off on some side trails to get a closer view. After the falls you’ll cross a bridge and continue your ascent up many switchbacks and catch your first view of Angel’s Rest in the distance. Finally, you will reach a large exposed rocky area, seen in the photo below. You’re almost to the top at this point and it would make a great place to take a break and take in the western views.
A few minutes later I arrived at Angel’s Rest and found a rock to relax on. I enjoyed the sun and some snacks for while before starting my way back to the parking lot. If you’re looking a day trip from Portland I’d highly recommend checking out Angel’s Rest. You’ll get a good workout on the way up but the stunning views throughout and at the top are definitely a great payoff. It won’t take all day so you’ll have be time to explore other parts of the Gorge before heading back to the city.
I hopped back in the car and drove a few minutes down the road to Multnomah Falls and the masses of crowds. I searched for a parking spot for 15 minutes and almost decided it wasn’t worth dealing with the hoards of people before finally finding a spot. I hopped out of the car and zig-zagged through all the people to take in the falls for a minute and got so overwhelmed I left before getting a good photo. If you must visit Multnomah Falls, I’d recommend making it a quick stop and doing another hike and/or visiting other waterfalls in the Gorge.
Next I hopped back on the highway and headed towards Hood River. I drove through Hood River and the Fruit Loop past many vineyards and farms. If I had more time in the area would definitely have made it a point to stop at a few farms but it wasn’t in the cards today. I headed up to Lost Lake to take in the gorgeous views of Mt Hood over the lake while enjoying a kombucha and some snacks. If it wasn’t the end of the day I would have rented a kayak to paddle around the lake. There was a great campground here that would be an awesome place to stay on a future trip and it would definitely make a great day trip from Hood River.
After a long day of exploring, I made my way back to Hood River where I checked into my Airbnb and then headed out to get some dinner. I grabbed some fish and chips and a half pint on Full Sail Brewing Company patio and took in the river views which included lots of kitesurfers. Then I headed back to my Airbnb to rest up for another big day of adventuring.
- Stop by Vista House
- Hike up to Angel’s Rest
- Stop by Multnomah Falls for a quick photo
- Rent a boat on Lost Lake
- Grab dinner and a brew at Full Sail Brewing Company
Check out the other parts of my road trip: