One of the perks of being on vacation is leaving behind the stuff you don't really like doing in your normal day-to-day routine. Thanks to public transit options that extend well beyond the Portland metro area, stopping in Sandy and continuing all the way to Timberline Lodge, you can include driving in that list of things to escape. Traveling from downtown Portland without stepping into a single car, you have access to all of the best recreation spots on Mt. Hood; all you need to do is check the times and bring small bills for your fare. If you need a little inspiration, we have a ready-made itinerary outlining trailheads leading to epic hikes, each one in walking distance from a Mt. Hood Express transit stop below. And don't worry about not having room for your gear; there's options each step of the journey for your skis and bikes. So save money with no car rental or gas or save the environment. No matter what you're saving, you can do it car-free.
Explore More Car-Free: Sandy to Estacada!
From Sandy you can continue on the Sandy Area Metro (SAM) south to Estacada, a pocket of arts and outdoor recreation located along the Wild & Scenic Clackamas River. To see more about going car-free from Sandy to Estacada and all that you can do there, click here.
Craving a hike but don’t want to drive? Avoid parking, Northwest Forest Pass fees and enjoy access to beautiful hiking trails that are all walking distance from multiple stops on the Mt. Hood Express. Below are some tips before you begin your car-free trip to Mt. Hood National Forest and hiking suggestions at most stops along the route.
The below stops follow the Mt. Hood Express route eastbound from Sandy to Timberline Lodge
Rated "easy," with 2.5 miles of trails in an old growth forest setting with the Wild & Scenic Salmon River flowing through, Wildwood Recreation Site can be accessed from the RV Village Resort via the Doug Fir trail (to avoid walking on Hwy 26).
For more information check out our trails guide.
No hiking recommendations at this stop, but there are some places to grab some lunch or stock up with supplies for hikes in the area.
Koya Kitchen - ¼ mile west back on Hwy 26 (open 12-9pm, closed Mon/Tues)
Coffee Brewsters - across E Welches Rd. in the Hoodland Shopping Center (open every day 6am-6pm)
Stock up on food/water for hiking at the Hoodland Thriftway (open every day 6am - 12am)
Just 1/10 mile east to Zigzag Ranger Station, access the Hunchback Trail #793 where you can head up to a viewpoint (4.4 miles, “easy” out and back), or for the more adventurous, you can do the full 18 mile (rated “difficult”) out and back with an overnight at Devil’s Peak Lookout*. Visit the Zigzag Ranger Station for more hiking information such as the latest on trail conditions, wildflower bloom, river crossings and fall colors.
*Devil's Peak Lookout is available on a first come, first served basis.
Rated "moderate," the 6.8 mile Flag Mountain Loop starts 8/10 mile east at the Pioneer Bridle Trailhead. Navigate secluded forest roads, enjoy views of Mt. Hood from shaded trails and return following the original Oregon Trail!
Rated “easy,” the popular 4.4 mile Mirror Lake Trail #664 starts at west end of Skibowl parking lot and on a clear day offers unparalleled views of Mt. Hood as it reflects off of the aptly named Mirror Lake.
Rated “easy," Summit Trail #691 is a 2 mile out and back from the east end of Skibowl's parking lot.
OVERNIGHT BONUS: Summit Trail #691 (east) – Summit Barlow Tie Trail #602 (right off of Summit Trail/east) – Barlow Trail #601A (take a right/south) – dead ends at E Perry Vickers Rd / Left, then first right, then first left (on roads) – Still Creek Campground* on your left.
*Still Creek Campground requires reservations - make sure you have your site reserved ahead of time.
Rated “easy,” Maggie’s Trail Loop is only 1.75 miles and starts ¼ mile west of the Collins Lake Resort stop. Trail is on your right, just before Thunderhead Lodge. Maggie’s Trail #753, right at Crosstown Trail #755, right at Wally’s Tie Trail #755A, right at Skiway Trail #755B.
Stop at the Mt. Hood Cultural Center & Museum for tips on hikes in the Government Camp Area.
Map of recreational trails in Government Camp can be found here.
Rated “easy," the ZigZag Overlook from Timberline Lodge hike is a 4.4 mile round-trip hike that takes you into Little Zigzag Canyon and eventually ends at a viewpoint offering views of the massive Zigzag Canyon and Mt. Hood.
For more of an elevation gain, try the Mountaineer Trail #798, the highest elevation trail (5,880’ – 6,960’) on the south side of Mt. Hood. Only 2.7 miles but rated “moderate," this hike takes you past Silcox hut and rewards you with looming views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson to the west and on a clear day the Coast Range to the west.