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5 Lesser Known Hikes On and Around Mount Hood

03.06.15

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5 Lesser Known Hikes On and Around Mount Hood

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  • The trail to McNeil Point.- 5 Lesser Known Hikes On and Around Mount Hood
  • An impressive view of Mount Hood from the McNeil Point trail.- 5 Lesser Known Hikes On and Around Mount Hood
  • McNeil Point Shelter with Mount Hood on full display.- 5 Lesser Known Hikes On and Around Mount Hood
  • The Muddy Fork trail leads toward the bottom of the Sandy Glacier.- 5 Lesser Known Hikes On and Around Mount Hood
  • A bear cub climbs a tree along the Muddy Fork Trail.- 5 Lesser Known Hikes On and Around Mount Hood
  • Keep watch while you are on the hike to the Muddy Fork and you may see this sword in a stone.- 5 Lesser Known Hikes On and Around Mount Hood
  • Mount Hood view from Owl Point.- 5 Lesser Known Hikes On and Around Mount Hood
  • The register box at Owl Point.- 5 Lesser Known Hikes On and Around Mount Hood
  • Mount Hood from Burnt Lake.- 5 Lesser Known Hikes On and Around Mount Hood
  • The trail to the summit of Zigzag Mountain with wildflowers blooming in the summer.- 5 Lesser Known Hikes On and Around Mount Hood
  • Mount Hood from one of the viewpoints on Hunchback Mountain.- 5 Lesser Known Hikes On and Around Mount Hood
  • Rhododendrons and fir trees along the Hunchback Mountain Trail.- 5 Lesser Known Hikes On and Around Mount Hood
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Team

As a Mount Hood regular, it's been a winter season worth forgetting. But as a Mount Hood regular summer hiker, with trails that should be covered by feet of snow, it's already time to get back out on the trail. Here are five of my favorite hikes on Mount Hood and in the nearby vicinity that I can't usually get to in the spring. These are the lesser known trails, so regardless of the time of year, expect fewer people than some of the other trails on Mount Hood's slopes and environs.

McNeil Point

McNeil Point is arguably one of the best vantage points of Mount Hood looking up the west slope of the mountain's face. The trailhead can be hard to find, but once you're making your way around Bald Mountain on the way to McNeil Point, you'll have great views and old-growth forest to hike through. For the ambitious adventurer with the requisite mountaineering skills, the trail to the Sandy Glacier Ice Caves proceeds from the McNeil Point Shelter.

Muddy Fork

This hike along the Muddy Fork of the Sandy River is fed by the Sandy Glacier. During this warm winter, you can hike at the snow line. With relatively little elevation gain, the trail provides interesting and less-often seen aspects of Mount Hood, which looms above for the entire hike. Keep an eye out for the sword in the stone.

Owl Point

The hardest part of the Owl Point hike is the bumpy gravel road to the trailhead. From the summit of Owl Point, you'll have an impressive view of Mount Hood and also get to see the extent of the Dollar Ridge fire from 2011. The trail starts at 4,500 feet elevation, so it may be too snowy to reach quite yet, but barring a large snow dump in the spring, this trail will be accessible much earlier this year.

Burnt Lake and Zigzag Mountain

The trail to Burnt Lake is fairly well known and popular in the summer months, but it is on this list since it's accessible so much earlier this year. So set out onto this trail now, and avoid the summer rush. By continuing past Burnt Lake to the summit of Zigzag Mountain, the traffic drops off considerably even during the busiest of summer days.

Hunchback Mountain

The Hunchback Mountain trail starts from beyond the Zigzag Ranger Station and proceeds up a steep forested ridge. The elevation gain on this hike is almost entirely in the first 2 miles, and it's substantial. Although there are fewer iconic views of Mount Hood along the hike, make sure to take a rest at the Rockpile viewpoint to get a good look at the mountain. Keep going to get to the amazing views overlooking the Salmon River Canyon.

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