Mount Hood is a dormant volcano and one of Oregon’s seven wonders. The best way to have an authentic adventure and experience in this national park is to camp and survive in the wilderness. Did you know that ascending Mount Hood is quite dangerous? Since 1883, 126 people perished while climbing up to the top. To make it there safely, I recommend checking out our Mt. Hood Forest survival guide.
The Journey To The Top
The adventure of a lifetime begins with the trip through the forest to Mount Hood. The road to Mount Hood is not particularly challenging, but you must have a set of tire chains in the mud or sleet. The problem usually occurs in the winter on Oregan Highway 35. Having a four-wheel drive vehicle always helps.
The drive to Mt Hood is very scenic, and the Byway is a 6-mile drive. You reach an altitude of 6000 ft. The summit glacier of this high peak makes for a beautiful 100-mile drive that winds through valleys and fir forests. This area is accessible to a vehicle.
At one point, you need to leave the vehicle and continue on foot to climb Mt. Hood. You must check the weather beforehand. Spring and summer are the best seasons for climbing as it’s safer. You start at the Timberline Lodge parking zone. A climb up to the top can take you up to 24 hours for a roundtrip. Here’s what you need to have with you:
- Permit and registration
- Synthetic layered clothing
- Ice ax
- Thick mountain boots
- Water and food
- Emergency kit
Setting Up Camp
Camping in national forests is allowed unless stated otherwise due to some particular reason. The general rule for setting up camp is that you place your tent on the side of some main roads that lead through the forests. These roads are not paved and made of rough gravel. You need to be at least 100 or 200 feet away from roads, trails, or water sources such as rivers and waterfalls.
If you want to make sure there are no others close by, choose a more remote camping site deeper in the woods. This type of distanced camping is called ‘dispersed camping.’ However, you want to make sure you know how to find your way back to the trails.
Mt Hood forest has over 2,000 campsites. There are even yurts available for those seeking a cool experience.
Be aware that campfires are usually prohibited. Therefore you need a flashlight or other light and heat source. Don’t attempt to hike when it’s dark, or you risk a severe injury.
We recommend you have some basics with you, including:
- A tent
- Sleeping bags
- Food and water
- A hammock
- Emergency kit
- Thick clothing
Are wild animals in Mt Hood dangerous?
The local wildlife you can encounter in the forest includes cougars, elk, owls, mountain lions, wolves. First of all, if you see an animal, don’t run. Try to move away slowly, taking small steps. Usually, these animals are scared of humans and will move away. But, as a precaution, have some wildlife repellent sprat with you, especially when camping overnight.
Surviving Harsh Weather
Getting stuck in the national forest when the weather is cold or wet can turn into a nightmare. It’s best to be prepared for all kinds of weather conditions. As with other high altitude zones, the weather can change quickly; therefore, you need to be ready for rain or snow. This means bringing an extra set of clothing in case it cools down.
During the summer, the weather is nice, with hot temperatures in the forest. The higher up you hike, the colder it gets. The peak can experience winter temperatures and conditions even in the summer. Be careful as there is a risk of avalanches in the area. You need to have safety equipment with you because there is no emergency service nearby. Even if you take the southside climbing route, you must have some climbing skills and proper equipment at all times because it is at a steep 45 degrees.
Tip: Have a transceiver with you, as it helps in the case of an avalanche. This helps you communicate with others, especially if you get lost or separated. As well, keep an avalanche probe so that you can check as you climb.
Finally, we recommend that even if you go for a short hike, you take a bivy sack or a small tent. If weather conditions change and you can’t continue on foot, you need a safe resting spot. Of course, you should also have a sleeping bag because it helps save you from frostbite, especially at night.