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Camping at Mount Hood National Forest

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Overview of Mount Hood National Forest

Mount Hood National Forest is a vast expanse of forested land in the Cascade Range in Oregon, United States. It's named after Mount Hood, Oregon's highest point and a potentially active stratovolcano. With its majestic views, numerous trails, and variety of recreational activities, Mount Hood National Forest is a cherished destination for campers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Location and Access

The forest is located approximately 20 to 60 miles east of the city of Portland, encompassing parts of the Clackamas, Hood, Wasco, and Multnomah counties. Access to the area can be made via several highways, including U.S. Route 26 and Oregon Route 35.

Camping Opportunities

Dispersed Camping: Camping outside of designated campgrounds is known as dispersed camping. It is allowed in many parts of Mount Hood National Forest, though restrictions apply in certain areas for environmental protection.

Campgrounds: Mount Hood National Forest offers a variety of campgrounds, from primitive sites to those with more amenities like restrooms and potable water. Some popular campgrounds include Trillium Lake, Lost Lake, and Timothy Lake.

Group Campgrounds: These are designed for large groups and often require reservations in advance.

Reservations: Many campgrounds in the forest are on a first-come, first-served basis, but some can and should be reserved ahead of time through the National Recreation Reservation Service.

Permits and Fees

Recreation Passes: The Northwest Forest Pass may be required for parking at trailheads and day-use areas within the forest. There may also be specific fees for camping, depending on the campground.

Wilderness Permits: If you're planning on entering the wilderness areas within Mount Hood National Forest, a wilderness permit may be required, especially during the peak summer season.

Campground Fees: Campgrounds charge varying fees depending on the facilities and services provided. Check the current rates when you plan your trip or make reservations.

Campfire Safety and Regulations

Open fires are generally allowed in the provided metal fire rings at campgrounds. However, there may be seasonal restrictions or bans based on fire danger levels. Always check the current fire regulations before starting a fire and never leave a fire unattended.

Leave No Trace

Preserving the natural beauty of the forest is a priority, so practice Leave No Trace principles. Pack out what you pack in, stay on marked trails to reduce erosion, and respect wildlife by keeping a safe distance and securing food.

Wildlife Precautions

Mount Hood National Forest is home to diverse wildlife, including bears. Proper food storage is essential. Use bear-resistant containers or the provided bear lockers in developed campgrounds.

Weather and Safety

The weather can change rapidly in the mountains, so come prepared with layers of clothing. Snow can be present year-round at higher elevations, and trails can be treacherous. Always check the forecast and be prepared for cold, wet conditions.

Outdoor Activities

Besides camping, there are numerous other activities:

  • Hiking: There are trails suitable for all levels, from easy walks to challenging mountain ascents.
  • Biking: Both road cyclists and mountain bikers will find suitable trails and roads.
  • Fishing and Boating: Lakes and rivers in the forest provide opportunities for fishing and boating.
  • Winter Sports: In the winter, skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing are popular at several resorts and designated areas.


Mount Hood National Forest offers a wide range of camping opportunities and outdoor activities set against the beautiful backdrop of the Pacific Northwest. Planning and preparation are key to ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience. Always check the latest information from the Forest Service regarding permits, conditions, and closures before setting out.

Map of Campgrounds in Mount Hood National Forest
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