Weekend Backpacker: Portland

Get Out of Niketown on These Great Overnighters
  |  Gorp.com
Mount Hood
Mount Hood looms over the road out of Portland

Pacific Wonderland. That's how the old blue Oregon license plates read. Snowcapped volcanoes, cool, clear streams, and crashing surf, all captured in a two-word quip from the Department of Motor Vehicles: Not bad.

You can't live in the Pacific Northwest and not be mindful of its beauty. To the east is ever-present Mount Hood, which may mold the Oregon mind-set even more than local breweries. North of that, Mount St. Helens stands as an ominous reminder of Hood's future.

Travel east of St. Helens and arrive at Goat Rocks and Indian Heaven Wildernesses. Indian Heaven is a subtle, meadowed wilderness of high lakes and huckleberries. Goat Rocks is a stony, bony slice of alpine bliss and home to one of the highest stretches of the Pacific Crest Trail.

To the south of Mount Hood lies Mount Jefferson, also on the PCT. An extinct volcano, Jefferson is home to brilliant meadows and glacier-fed lakes. Moving west, you'll find the coast. Trails in Oswald West State Park run along high bluffs above crashing surf. Crow and raven roost in old-growth spruce while migrating whales spout just offshore.

Just step out the door. The whales, the cool wind off a glacier, and the warmth of your camp stove. Truly a Pacific Wonderland.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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