My wife and I recently took our first trip to Hood River, Oregon. The reason for the trip was two-fold: run a trail together and tour Hood River’s breweries. Mission accomplished on both fronts.
We left early on a Saturday morning in the first week of June and headed for the Polallie Trailhead. This was a quick, 80-minute drive from Portland. The trailhead does require a Northwest Forest Pass. Ours had just expired, but we lucked out because apparently this was a no-fee day. There is a ranger station down Highway 35 where you can scoop up a pass, so be sure you’re up-to-date before you arrive at this trailhead.
We headed across the street to the actual trailhead and started uphill. We were aware of a certain amount of elevation change, but the first mile alone included a startling amount of elevation. We quickly switched to hiking mode on uphills to save our energy. It was a very hot day and we didn’t want to overdo it. To add a bit of interest to our run, we decided to visit Tamawanas Falls. This added a couple of miles to the run, but was well worth it. The trail in and out from Tamawanas Falls is generally wide and easy to run. Most of it is single- or double-track dirt, with just a few areas of technical, rocky terrain.
Away from the falls, the trail was single-track dirt and gentle, undulating hills. For beginners or professionals, this is a fun, relatively easy trail. The elevation gain wound up being a surprise, but didn’t cause any great difficulty. Our goal for the day was 10 miles total, so when we were satisfied that we had gone far enough, we took a side trail to the river for a quick bite to eat while enjoying the lazy river flowing in front of us.
After closing out the remaining 5 miles of our out and back run, we headed for Parkdale, Oregon. We wound up hitting Solera Brewing, with it’s spectacular beer garden view of Mount Hood. After a quick beverage, we went to Apple Valley BBQ for a very hearty lunch. From there, we headed for our AirBnB, which happened to be on an amazing little farm, where the owner let us hang out and feed all the animals. Beyond that, we headed for downtown Hood River and wandered from coffee shop to brewery to shops to restaurants. We spent a fair amount of Sunday copying our routine from Saturday, including a stop on the Washington side of the Columbia River at Everybody’s Brewing. Again, this is a stellar place for a beer and some food with a spectacular Mount Hood view from the patio. I highly recommend the quick trip to White Salmon, Washington for this brewery.
This was a terrific two-day trip that could easily have been a single-day running adventure. But if you’re going to drive to Hood River for a trail run, do yourself a favor and spend some time in this lovely city. It’s worth your time. See the video below for some shots of the trail and the farm.