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Walking in Cumbria and Beyond

Mirror Lake – Oregon

Mirror Lake – Oregon

Yet another scenic byway heads west from Portland. 

A little south from the Columbia River.

Through peripheral towns of Wood Village and Gresham.

Round the south side of Mount Hood where it turns north and ends at the Columbia River Gorge.

Just beyond the delightfully named Zigzag and Rhododendron is a trail head scrunched alongside a far from scenic stretch of the I26. 

Cars wedged into a barely widened road where lorries heaped with timber, grind gears to get up the hill. 



Hardly an image of peace and tranquillity. 

Despite having stopped at a Ranger Station to pick up a map and instructions, I’d failed to read them before arriving at the trail.  I barely ‘squoze’ between two trucks with wheels as big as I.  Hooked on my backpack, laced on boots and …. read the sign.  We needed pass.  Fines.  Penalties.

Was I about to drive out of my space and return to the ranger?  No!  When out with my Oregonian friend to hike up Hood she’d forgotten her annual pass.  A statutory slapped wrist ensured when we returned saying ‘pay the $5 or else’.  That was a risk more worth taking than being ground under the wheels of a passing timber lorry.

Redwood stump

And so to the lake.  Another zigzag through the pines, or firs and redwoods.  With dripping lichen and sunlight dappled ferns lacing the floor.  Density of trees soon muffled the traffic roar and foot fall became the only sound.

Mirror Lake must have been a delightful find to whoever first stumbled upon it.   After a mile of steep forest path the trees stop and there it is. 

Mirror Lake Oregon

Mirror Lake and Mount Hood

Just is. 

Hardly any space around it. 

A clear, blue pool of water. 

Pretty in itself, but once round the far side the towering Hood peeps over the trees and casts its image  downwards.

It was a day of perfection.  Hardly a ripple.  Flip over the image and reality would be hard to spot.  Even the swimmers did little to spoil the calm.  I just wish I’d taken spare clothes!

Mirror Lake and Mount Hood

Mirror Lake, Hood and I

Feeling more of a challenge was needed, there’s a hike higher to a wonderfully named Tom, Dick and Harry Ridge. 

Who they are I have yet to discover.  Another trail leading to the wilderness, so another one way street unless you’re laden with tent and stove.

From the ridge, on a clear summer day, there is an awesome 360 show of mountains.  Jefferson, south I think, which I’d learned to recognise by a finger sticking up at the top.  Immediately north Hood, swing west and Adams, one more I’ve failed to remember the name.

Mt Hood

Mount Hood from the Tom Dick and Harry ridge

Finally over in the distance but distinctive in its misshapenness, St Helens.

All well worth a pause.  Eat your lunch here and just enjoy the view. 

And down.. the same way.  I was getting used to this. 


Mt Jefferson

Thankfully no nasty notice was attached to the car.  So to end the day, risk the trucks with a reverse on to I26 and follow the ‘not so scenic by way’ a few miles till the signs for Timberline Lodge are seen.

An eight mile detour up the side of Hood to the ski area. 

Mt Hood from Timberline Lodge

Mt Hood from Timberline Lodge

Cast in summer grey with flowers battling to take a hold.  But another close up view of the peak, a few more steps on the PCT as it meanders close to this ‘historic lodge’ and even better, a chance to end the day with a long, cool, drink.

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