Hiking on the Vista Ridge Trail offers a one-two-three punch, if timed correctly. First, at any time of year, take a stark look at the effects of wildfire. Lightening ignited this area of Mount Hood Wilderness in 2011, and the resultant Dollar Lake Fire consumed 6,300 acres of timber. The charred bark has largely fallen off the trees, and now the weathered trunks stand silvery and smooth. The real show-stopper of this hike, though, occurs a week or two after the snow has melted, when the ground becomes carpeted with avalanche lilies. The blankets of white blooms amongst the silver trees is otherworldy. The giddiness of this discovery is contagious, and the shared experience with other hikers is a unique delight. Finally, dramatic views of Mount Hood come into view in the final quarter-mile of the trail, and you'll also have a view over Wy'east Basin. Backcountry campsites exist, and the trail intersects with Eden Park and Timberline trails, both of which are excellent extensions for this hike. This combination of discoveries makes the Vista Ridge Trail a favorite on the north side of Mount Hood.
The trail itself is easy to follow. From the end of Forest Road 1650, take the trail into the low trees. This trail technically is an old forest road, but it's so overgrown that it is easy to mistake for a trail. The trail forks after about a half-mile; take a right and stop by the registration station to fill out a wilderness permit, which you'll have to carry with you while you are inside the boundaries of Mount Hood Wilderness.