Mt. Hood is such rich hiking terrain that it can be hard to pick a starting point. But a trail not to be missed is the Ramona Falls Hike. Best explored in the summer months, this trail leads through a unique stretch of woodlands and ends with the stunning 120-foot Ramona Falls, tucked up on the western flank of Mt. Hood.
Due to the open, sandy bank of the aptly named Sandy River, the soil along this trail cultivates a slice of wilderness singular to this part of the state. Look for Lodgepole pines, Oregon beaked moss, juniper haircap moss and a lovely blend of wildflowers. The waterfall itself is a gorgeous, splashing, cascade of water accented by fallen trees and worn boulders. When sunlight filters through the surrounding trees, the light ricochets off the basaltic rock-face, making the falls glow.
The trail can get busy mid-summer, so make the hike early or later in the season to avoid crowds. Remember that this is an equestrian trail also, so be ready for an odd horse or two. Hikers should exercise caution while crossing the Sandy River – the seasonal bridge washed out in August, 2014.
The trail is accessible from the Ramona Falls Trailhead in Rhododendron, Oregon. Parking is $5/vehicle/day for a pass from May 15th to October 1st, and FREE the rest of the year. You can also get a$30 annual pass to access all public Forest Service locations in Oregon and Washington. One place to purchase passes is at the nice ranger station at Hwy 26 and Lolo Pass Road (Forest Road 18).
From Portland, follow US Highway 26 to Zigzag, OR. Turn north on Lolo Pass Road (Forest Road 18). Follow it four miles. Turn east (right) onto Forest Road 1825 and continue 0.6 miles, cross a bridge and then continue 1.7 miles to a road junction. Bear left at the junction onto Forest Road 1825-100 and drive 0.3 mile. Take a left onto Forest Road 1825-024 and drive to the large open parking lot (0.2 miles).