Camping in Mt Hood National Forest

You have a big choice when camping in Mt Hood National Forest near Mt. Hood. You can camp in the forest near rivers and streams or choose a campsite on the edge of a lake. Mt. Hood National Forest is huge and the campgrounds below are those close to Mt. Hood.

Camp Creek Campground

This is a campground just off Highway 26 but when you are in it, you are a world away from civilization. I used to live a five-minute walk from here. The maximum vehicle length is 45 feet. There is one pull-through site with maximum length of 40 feet. There is water available by hand pump and toilets are the pit type. Electricity is not available. Firewood is sold on site and some spots have stone fireplaces. Stores are nearby in Rhododendron and Welches. There is a camp host. There is a large variety of mushrooms growing here but not the edible kind.

If you are traveling east on Highway 26, go through the town of Rhododendon and watch for the sign on the right.

For reservations call Reserve America at 1-877-444-6777.

Campgrounds at Timothy Lake

Timothy Lake

Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives

To me this is the ultimate in camping in the Mt. Hood National Forest area. There are four campgrounds at Timothy Lake with a total of over 200 spaces. Hoodview Campground and Gone Creek Campground are the most scenic with a spectacular view of Mt. Hood. Oakfork and Pine Point are excellent but the view is not quite as good. The lake is man-made and a good size for boating, fishing, canoeing and windsurfing. We used to sail

there and because we always went on a Monday, we were often the only boat on the lake. It is also a good lake for crawdad (crayfish) fishing. The lake is restocked three times a year. There is a hiking trail around the lake. All of the high mountain lakes in this area are good for mushroom hunting in the fall after the first heavy rain. The lake is inaccessable during the winter months because of heavy snow but it is generally open by Memorial Day.

All sites have picnic tables and fire rings. Water and pit type toilets are provided. Firewood is available for a charge.

Warning: Because the lake is man-made, there are tree stumps hidden under the water around the edge of the lake. Lower your boat speed when close to shore.

From Sandy, Oregon, travel east on Highway 26 for approximately 40 miles to Skyline Road (Rd 42). Turn right on Skyline Road, travel south 9 miles. Turn right on FS Road 57, west 2 miles.

Reservations must be made four days in advance. Call Reserve America at 1-877-6777.

Frog Lake Campground

Frog Lake

Dave Welton, Creative Commons

This pretty little lake is a nice quiet spot to camp in a tent and enjoy the outdoors. The lake is stocked with trout several times each summer. There is a trail from the lake that goes up to another very small lake and I am embarassed to say I don't know the name of it. It is good for huckleberry picking in the late summer. It is a choice spot for finding white chantrelle mushrooms after the first heavy rain in the fall.

The parking lot is open even in the winter for cross-country skiers.

From Sandy, Oregon, follow Highway 26 east for 62 miles, turn left at Frog Lake entrance sign. Go through the parking lot on Road 2610 for 1 mile, turn right at entrance sign.

Reservations must be made four days in advance. Call Reserve America at 1-877-6777.

Trillium Lake Campground

Trillium Lake

Trillium Lake is the lake you can see from Timberline Lodge when looking south. It is a small lake which is excellent for fishing, swimming, and canoeing with the view of Mt. Hood as a backdrop. The unimproved roads in the area are good for both hiking and mountain biking. This is another good huckleberry picking area. People use the campground for both day use and overnight. There are 57 sites with picnic tables and fire rings. The maximum RV length is 40 feet. Water is available. The toilets are the pit type.

This is a popular spot for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

From Government Camp drive east and then south on Highway 26. The sign for the turnoff to Trillium Lake will be on your right.

For reservations call Reserve America at 1-877-6777.

Clear Lake Campground

This was one of my favorite places to go mushroom hunting in the fall. Both white chantrelles and boletus mushrooms were plentiful. Some years were better than others. In late September and early October there was never anyone else there during the week. Clear Lake is good for fishing,

There are 28 campsites. Maximum RV length is 32 feet. All sites have a picnic table and fire ring. Water and pit type toilets are available.

For reservations call Reserve America at 1-877-6777.

Little Crater Lake Campground

It is not just Little Crater Lake that is small. So is the campground. That is a good thing if you want to get away from crowds of people. There are 16 campsites all with a picnic table and fire ring. Water is available and the toilets are the pit type. The maximum RV length is 22 feet.

A trail connects to the Pacific Crest Trail and you can hike north towards Mt. Hood or south to Timothy Lake.

To get there, drive south on Highway 26 about nine miles past the junction with Highway 35. Turn on Forest Service Road 42 and travel about 3.5 miles until you come to Road 58. This will lead you to the Little Lake Campground.

For reservations call Reserve America at 1-877-6777.

Lost Lake Campground

Camping at Lost Lake is an annual event for some people.  That's because it is an absolutely wonderful place to be even if it is only for a couple of days.  The lake is at the 3,146 foot elevation at the base of Mt. Hood which reflects in the water.  The mountain is so close you feel like you can reach out and touch it. 

The campgrounds are privately owned and there is a fee of $6 for parking. The fee for campsites is much higher than we are accustomed to because of the low fees at Oregon State parks and Forest Service parks.  The lowest fee is for a tent site which was $25 in 2013 -- more if the site is lakeside.

Motorized boats are not allowed on the lake but there is plenty of good fishing for trout and Kokanee salmon by rowboat.  You can bring your own boat or rent one.  Kayaks and paddle boats are also available for rent.

The campground has 148 spaces and they are all first come first serve. There are some spaces that can take a 40 foot RV but  there are no electric hookups. There is a dump station, however. The tent sites are large and some are right by the lake. Showers are available for a fee.  The toilets are vault style. There are a couple of group sites for up to 12 people with four cars.

They have cabins available for rent.  We stayed at one several years ago and I have to tell you they were little better than a tent.  Since then they have been improved but reports are they are very expensive for what you get. The lodge has rooms to rent and I have heard they are quite nice. They have kitchenettes with cooking utensils and dishes. Each room has a bathroom with shower.  Two rooms are wheelchair accessible but they share a bathroom. You can make reservations for the rooms at 541-386-6366.
You can buy a few food items, fishing stuff, water toys etc. at the little grocery store. Don't depend on it though. Take everything you think you will need.

There is a wonderful hiking trail around the lake which gives you several vantage points for the lake and Mt. Hood. It is three miles long and flat enough for most people to manage. A good part of it is boardwalk. If you are up for something more adventurous there is a trail that takes off from this trail that goes up Huckleberry Mountain.  It is seven miles long round trip and gives you excellent views of Mt. Hood and the Bull Run Watershed. This trail connects to the Pacific Crest Trail so you could go even farther if you want.

You can travel to Lost Lake either from Hood River or from Zig Zag on the other side of the mountain.  From Zig Zag you turn off Highway 26 to Lolo Pass Road just across from the Zig Zag Inn. If you plan on taking this route, be aware that you will travel several miles on a dirt road.  Stop at the Zig Zag Ranger Station for directions and road conditions.  We had a flat tire going this route and we were just lucky someone came along because our jack didn't work.

The best way to go is from the Hood River side of the mountain especially if you are pulling a camper or a boat. You will have paved roads all the way.  The directions are kind of complicated though so either get a detailed road map (I think Google Maps are awful in this case.) or drive to Parkdale and stop in at the Forest Service Ranger Station at 6780 Highway 35, Parkdale, Oregon 97041 for directions. It is about a 45-minute drive to Lost Lake from Hood River.

Camping in Mt. Hood National Forest for the Mobility Impaired

Zig Zag River

Lost Creek Campground

This is a wonderful campground for people in wheelchairs or who are unable to walk long distances. There is a viewing walkway and ramp that goes along Lost Creek and it can be used for fishing. The last time I was there the beavers had built a dam. A paved path winds through the woods. There are 16 campsites. The maximum RV length is 22 feet. Water is availabe and the toilets are the pit type. Both have handicapped access.

To get there drive east on Highway 26 from Sandy (about 18 miles). Turn left on Lolo Pass Road (Forest Service Road 18). Turn right on Road 1825. The sign will say Campground Trailheads. Drive two miles and turn right to Lost Creek Campground. (You will drive past McNeil Campground and Riley Horse Horse Camp.

For reservations call Reserve America at 1-877-6777.

McNeil Campground

Near Lost Creek Campground (see above) this campground has 34 sites. Maximum RV length is 22 feet. This camp is popular with steelhead and salmon fishermen.

For reservations call Reserve America at 1-877-6777.

Read about Mt. Hood activities here.

Mt. Hood Campgrounds