In the month of April, as northwest Oregon struggles free from the grips of winter, one can find a treasure of color and beauty in orchards of the Hood River valley. The slopes between Mount Hood and the Columbia, covered with orchards, burst into bloom. A drive around the “Fruit Loop” (connecting highways looping around the Hood River Valley) is beautiful any time of year, but is particularly stunning in the spring. Peak blossom time depends on the weather, but typically will be early to mid April. If possible, pick a clear day for your Hood River visit so you get the doubly stunning view of mountains Hood and Adams as a backdrop for your blossom photos.
How to Find the Blossoms
Using the “Fruit Loop” map as a guide, head out of the city of Hood River on either highway 281 or 35. Less than a mile from town you will start coming upon orchards. If it’s a clear day, you will also be rewarded with dramatic views of Mt. Hood in front of you and Mt. Adams behind you. Keep your eyes peeled for places to pull off of the highway safely. There are several farm driveways, pullouts, etc. you can use. Keep out of the way of traffic and respect no trespassing signs. Many orchards also have farm stands, where you can park, shop, and wander into the orchards for more photos. Driving the Fruit Loop can take as short a time as 45 minutes or as long as several hours, depending on how far out you go and how many stops you make. It took me about two hours to drive out 281 to Parkdale, and back on 35, stopping at about four different orchards.
Enjoy Hood River
Since you are out and about, make a day of it and enjoy all Hood River has to offer. Hood River has a compact downtown area with lots of restaurants, shops and breweries. Both the waterfront park and marina offer views of the Columbia River, where watching windsurfers is a favorite pastime. Hood River is also an outdoor recreation hub for biking, hiking and all sorts of watersports. Another fun excursion is a trip on the historic Mount Hood Railroad.
Some of my favorite Gorge hikes can be found near Hood River. These hikes all offer lots of reward for the amount of effort one has to put in. In April and May, wildflowers explode all over the bluffs overlooking the Columbia. On a perfect day, you can get amazing wildflowers, views of the Columbia River Gorge and the snow capped mountains all in the same hike!
There is no shortage of delicious eats in Hood River. Known for farm to table cuisine, there is something for everyone in Hood River. Some of my favorites are:
Doppio Coffee – smooth, perfectly prepared coffee drinks, pastries and sandwhiches
Stoked Roasters and Coffeehouse – great coffee along the waterfront
Pine Street Bakery – tasty pastries, sandwiches and coffee
Farm Stand in the Gorge – natural and organic grocery store and cafe
Ferment Brewing Company – stylish space, mouthwatering local food, and great drinks overlooking the Columbia
And there are many, many more highly rated restaurants in Hood River.
Have you been out to Hood River during blossom time? What was your favorite spot?