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Two-Week Road Trip Through Oregon with Friends: Part 5

  • Written by Lindsey Huster
  •  / 
  • 8 min read
  •  / 
  • Last updated 5 months ago

Keith and I continued our two-week road trip through Oregon with friends. Our agenda for the next few days would be to visit Bend, Smith Rock State Park, Mount Hood, and Columbia River Gorge on our way back to Portland. There would also be a lot of fun short stops on our route.

Mount Hood and Timberline Lodge

Arriving at Timberline Lodge was magical. It is what I envision in a mountain lodge. Wooden beans overhead, giant fireplaces, and lots of cozy sitting areas indoors and outdoors. As large as it is and with people moving about, it still felt quaint and private. We spent some time exploring the inside of the lodge and then made our way outside. We took some time sitting outside to take in the warm sun. After a while, Keith wanted to hike around a bit and eventually, we made our way up a small part of the mountain. It was pretty cool to see the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) trail signs and imagine what it would be like to hike it.

It was quite cloudy so we didn't get a clear view of Mount Hood until later in the day. Mount Hood is Oregon's tallest mountain standing at 11,249 feet tall and can be seen from as far away as 100 miles. Known for the long ski season, ice climbing, and hiking, Mount Hood is a tourist destination all year long.

A night at the Cooper Spur Mountain Resort

On our way to the lodging, we stopped by Trillium Lake Dam. We walked around and saw that they were packing up the rental paddleboards for the night and it was still quite cloudy. However, as we stood along the bank, the mountains began to clear and the sun shined on the mountaintop just for a moment. We waited, not so patiently, to see if the clouds would part again. Only for a brief second, we were finally getting a peak at the famous mountain.

We checked into the hotel at The Cooper Spur Moutain Resort and were immediately blown away by the small, but very intentional details of the hotel. We were given local fresh ground coffee for the next morning at check-in and the room was very cozy.

We decided to take a drive and do a little exploring before dinner. A nearby trailhead offered a great view of a waterfall and Mount Hood without having to hike. Returning to the hotel, we were all pretty hungry and the Crooked Tree Tavern and Grill is located right on the grounds. The mountain resort charm continued as we walked into the packed bar area and found a table in the back room. It was a relaxing dinner and the perfect way to end the day.

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Chasing Waterfalls

This was our last full day of the trip. I was excited about the agenda for the day, but sad that it felt like the trip was wrapping up. We fueled ourselves for the day at a local diner, Bette's Place. To continue with local coffee shops we stopped at Dog River Coffee before starting our day at Columbia River Gorge Discovery Center and Museum and then off to chase waterfalls.

We reached the first waterfall, Wahclella Falls, after the 2.4-mile (3.86-kilometer) hike. The hike was quite enjoyable as it started along a creek, crossed a couple of bridges, and had gorgeous canyon views.

Horsetail Falls was next. This quick stop has a big payoff with the falls plunging 176 feet (53 meters). Upper Horsetail Falls, also called Ponytail Falls is a short, but steep hike that passes behind the upper section of Horsetail Falls.

Multnomah Falls was our next stop. By far the most famous waterfall on our list with 2.5 million visitors each year. Plummeting 620 feet (189 meters) in two sections, this waterfall features an iconic bridge and is known as the "Granddaddy of Oregon's Waterfalls." There is also a lodge, gift shop, restaurant, and snack bar on the property.

It was quite the contrast as far as the crowd arriving at Wahkeena Falls. Multnomah Falls was super busy and there was no one at Wahkeena Falls. Keith and I walked up to the midpoint but didn't go to the summit. It was nearing later afternoon and we had a few more stops.

It's easy to see why this section of historic Columbia River Highway is called the "Waterfall Corridor." Bridal Veil Falls was the next stop. The short but steep hike once again rewarded us with this amazing waterfall! It was incredible to see one after another and they all were breathtaking.

Latourell Falls would be the final waterfall for the day. Technically you can see it right at the trailhead. I'm so glad we took the 2-mile (3.2 kilometers) loop hike to get a better view. Standing at the bottom I was in awe at the 249-foot (76 meters) height and the color contrast with the bright green lichen. This was a great waterfall to end on.

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Wrapping up the Day

Before returning to Portland for the night, we stopped at Vista House at Crown Point. The historic building dates back to 1917 and was built to offer travelers a place to rest and refresh before exploring the Columbia River Gorge. The octagonal structure is unique and offers a fantastic viewpoint overlooking the river and mountains. There is a gift shop and coffee shop downstairs. Unfortunately, the building was closing so it was a quick peak for us.

We then made our way to the hotel in Portland for the night to wrap up the day. We ended up eating at the hotel restaurant, chatted for a bit, and called it a night. I think the exhaustion was hitting us by this point and I know I get a little grumpy towards the end of vacation since I don't want it to end.

How do you end such a Memorable Trip?

There wasn't much time on that very last morning before we went our separate ways for our return flights. We decided on coffee and breakfast at the Portland Sparrow Bakery since we loved the one in Bend so much. This was a nice slow way to wrap up the trip and spend the last couple hours together with our friends ❤️

Whew, that was a packed agenda for the last days of the trip! We covered a lot of miles and nearly as many stops. Which stop would you like to see and why? Let us know in the comments section below.👇 💬

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