Situated at the confluence of the Hood River and the Columbia River, Hood River is a scenic, quaint and outdoorsy town with just over 7,000 residents. Both visitors and residents alike take advantage of the town’s many outdoor activities available at their fingertips. You’ll immediately pick up Hood River’s knack for all things outdoors when you see the handful of kiteboarders skidding along the river on a clear, sunny day. Plus, the majestic Mount Hood towers in the distance, providing a nearby destination for wintertime fun, like skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing.
Take a look at some of the best outdoor activities in Hood River, from leisurely kayak tours to action-packed bike rides on rugged trails.
Windsurfing + Kiteboarding
On a pretty day in Hood River, it’s likely you’ll see at least one or two (and sometimes more than a dozen!) kiteboarders hopping along the waters of the Columbia. In fact, the city is nicknamed the “Windsurfing Capital of the World” due to the popularity of the sport in Hood River. Try your hand at windsurfing or kiteboarding, two similar yet different sports, whether you’re a seasoned expert or you’ve never tried either. If you’re new to kiteboarding or windsurfing, be sure to get lessons from a professional instructor at one of the many schools in town, including Cascade Kiteboarding, Gorge Kiteboard School, Brian’s Windsurfing, Kite The Gorge, Hood River WaterPlay or New Wind.
Hood River is perfectly positioned to enjoy an endless number of hiking trails, dotted with waterfalls, beautiful fall foliage and wildflowers during the spring. All year long, you may access the many hikes leading to waterfalls throughout the Columbia River Gorge, which contains the highest concentration of waterfalls in North America. Chase waterfalls by hiking the 2-mile trail to Wahclella Falls, or conquer a 8.6-mile section of the PCT to reach Dry Creek Falls. The region also has several hikes teeming with wildflowers during the spring, including the Mosier Plateau Trail in Mosier and the Lyle Cherry Orchard in Lyle.
Bikers have no shortage of trails and bike paths to explore in the Hood River area. Mountain bikers love the Post Canyon Hot Lap, the Post Canyon Shuttle Route, and the Sexy Surfer Loop. Or gain lots of mileage along the paved Mosier Twin Tunnels Trail and continue along the Historic Columbia River highway to reach the scenic overlook at Rowena Crest. Other favorites include the Lower Deschutes River Trail and the Klickitat River Trail.
Skiing + Snowboarding at Mount Hood
Mount Hood is not just a majestic backdrop looming behind the town of Hood River. It is also a renowned skiing and snowboarding destination, complete with a number of ski resorts worth exploring during the winter and spring. Some of the most popular ski resorts on Mount Hood include Cooper Spur Mountain Resort, Mt. Hood Meadows, Summit Ski Area, Timberline Lodge, and Skibowl. Portland Monthly put together a comprehensive guide to Mount Hood’s ski resorts, detailing the pros and cons, plus details like pricing and number of runs.
Kayaking + Stand-up Paddleboarding
If all that talk of kiteboarding seemed overwhelming, you might consider a more leisurely activity on the water like kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding. If you don’t have your own gear, you can rent kayaks, paddleboards and various equipment from the Gorge Paddling Center or Hood River SUP and Kayak, both of which are conveniently situated along the water. Rent your gear for an hour or two — or for the entire day, if you’d like!
During the spring and summer, the weather in Hood River is ideal for golfing. The city has two nearby golf courses, Indian Creek Golf Course and Hood River Golf Course & Country Club. The 18-hole Indian Creek course is nestled amongst rolling hills and fruit orchards in the Hood River Valley, and offers gorgeous views of Mount Hood and Mount Adams. Hood River Golf Course & Country Club has a public 18-hole course designed by George Junor and H. Chandler Egan in 1923.
If setting up a tent is enough exercise for you, camping just might be the perfect way to enjoy the great outdoors in Hood River. And thankfully, there are plenty of campgrounds within reach, including Wyeth Campground, Ainsworth State Park Campground, Memaloose State Park Campground, Viento State Park Campground, Sherwood Campground and Tucker Park Campground. Grab your gear, pack up the car, and make your way to one of these gorgeous settings to spend an adventurous night under the stars!
What must-do Hood River activity would you add to the list? Let us know your favorite outdoor activity in the comments below!