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The Best Places to Camp on Mount Hood

Mt. Hood National Forest is home to over 2,000 beautiful campsites — here are a few favorites and the info you'll need to find and reserve them.

Lost Lake mount Hood; (photo/Gary Windust via Flickr)Lost Lake Mount Hood; (photo/Gary Windust via Flickr)
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Mount Hood, Oregon’s tallest mountain at 11,239 feet, can be seen 100 miles in each direction on a clear day. The dormant stratovolcano is home to nearly year-round skiing and 812 miles of recreational trails in the 1.1 million-acre Mt. Hood National Forest.

The Mount Hood territory boasts over 2,000 campsites from primitive backpack-accessible hideaways to dispersed camping options to lakefront sites with uninterrupted views of the mountain. Here is a handful of our favorites.

Some are lakeside, some are creekside or riverside, and they all have fantastic access to hiking and biking trails. So, whether you like to paddle, plod, or pedal, there’s something for everyone at all of these campsites.

And if none of these strike your fancy, you have over 1,994 others to choose from.

Mt. Hood Camping: Our Favorite Spots

Trillium Lake Mount Hood
(Photo/Seth Needler)

Trillium Lake

Trillium Lake Campground is a magnet for all kinds of outdoor recreation, including boating, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, and skiing. Located 40 miles from Portland, and only 4 miles outside of the ski town of Government Camp, it’s an easy spot for a quick getaway.

Reservations open up 6 months in advance, and the U.S. Forest Service always holds back a handful of sites available on a first-come, first-served basis.

  • Location: Outside of Government Camp
  • Number of sites: 64
  • Site fees: $26/night for a single site, $52/night for a double site
  • Other fees: $8 for each extra car
  • Amenities: Vault toilets, drinking water, and a reservable amphitheater
  • Reservations: recreation.gov (877) 444-6777
Lost Lake at Mount Hood; (photo/Bonnie Moreland via Flickr)
(Photo/Bonnie Moreland via Flickr)

Lost Lake Resort and Campground

One of the few natural lakes in the Mt. Hood National Forest, the water is so clear I once dove down and rescued a lost $5 bill resting at the bottom of the lake that I spotted from my paddleboard. While the watersports get all the attention, there are over 100 miles of nearby trails including an easy favorite, the Lakeshore Trail, that circles the lake.

Most sites are reservable 6 months ahead and there are a handful of first-come, first-served spots.

Pro tip: to get one of those non-reservable spots, try to get to Lost Lake by 11 a.m. and scout out which folks are getting ready to leave by the noon checkout time so you can pounce on their spot as soon as they pull out.

  • Location: 25 miles southwest of Hood River, 87 miles east of Portland
  • Number of sites: 148
  • Site fees: $41-46 for tent sites, $71-80 for group sites
  • Other fees: $6 for a 15-minute shower, $15 for an extra car
  • Amenities: Public boat launch, 2 miles of handicap accessible trails, SUP and kayak rentals, and an onsite camp store.
  • Reservations: recreation.gov (877) 444-6777
Milo McIver State Park
(Photo/brx0 via Flickr Creative Commons)

Milo McIver State Park

The expansive 950-acre Milo McIver State Park is densely wooded and provides plenty of privacy, even on the main campsite loop. Fishing, kayaking, and paddleboarding are all part of the fun, either on the Clackamas River that flows alongside the park or on the nearby Estacada Lake.

Milo McIver State Park boasts one of the best 27-hole disc golf courses in the region and has the distinction of being the site of the only government-funded music festival back in 1970. Located a short 45-minute drive from Portland, making a reservation is a must for this popular state park.

  • Location: 24 miles southeast of Portland
  • Number of sites: 53 (44 electrical sites, 9 tent sites)
  • Site fees: $26-47 for electrical sites; $17-24 for tent sites
  • Other fees: $8 reservation fee
  • Amenities: Disc golf course, dog park, volleyball court, equestrian, and hiking trails
  • Reservations: Oregon State Parks (800) 452-5687
Frog Lake Mount Hood
(Photo/Rick Obst via Flickr)

Frog Lake

A secret gem in the Mt. Hood National Forest is Frog Lake Campground. It’s named after the schools of tadpoles that are hatched in the small lake each summer and grow into an army of frogs by August. Frog Lake could have also been named “Butterfly Lake” after the kaleidoscope of butterflies that arrive in late spring.

Nonmotorized boats are welcome on Frog Lake, and visitors can access a section of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Frog Lake Sno Park lot.

  • Location: 64 miles east of Portland, 12 miles east of Government Camp
  • Number of sites: 32
  • Site fees: $26 for a single site
  • Other fees: $10 for each extra car, $2 additional fees for holidays
  • Amenities: Vault toilets, fire rings
  • Reservations: reservations.gov (877) 444-6777
Timothy Lake Mount Hood
(Photo/Ben Amstutz via Flickr Creative Commons)

Timothy Lake

Timothy Lake was created in 1956 when Portland General Electric dammed the west fork of the Clackamas River to help regulate the flow. PGE now manages Timothy Lake in tandem with the U.S. Forest Service. There are over 200 campsites in seven campgrounds along the 1,500-acre lake.

Hikers and mountain bikers alike enjoy the 15-mile bike loop around the lake (it’s only 13 miles on foot). New in 2023, PGE is holding back a handful of sites in each campground for reservations 2 weeks in advance rather than only making reservations available 6 months ahead of time.

My favorite camping spot is the Hoodview campground, due to the breathtaking view of Mt. Hood, but really all the campgrounds around the lake are stunning. Another favorite is the non-reservable walk-in, boat-in Meditation Point. It’s about a mile walk into these primitive and quiet campsites.

Timothy Lake also offers 40 dispersed campsites that have no fee and no services and are a little hard to find, as they don’t tend to be well-marked.

  • Location: 80 miles southeast of Portland
  • Number of sites: 200 in 7 campgrounds
  • Site fees: $25 for single sites, $52 for double sites, $10 for Meditation Point
  • Other fees: $10 for an extra car, $2 additional on holidays
  • Amenities: Vault toilets, fire rings, BBQ grills, drinkable water
  • Reservations: reservation.gov (877) 444-6777
Fifteen Mile Campground Mount Hood
(Photo/Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington via Flickr Creative Commons)

Fifteenmile Campground

Timing is everything to snag one of the three wonderful sites along Fifteenmile Creek. The first-come, first-served Fifteenmile Campground sites are shaded and private.

Hikers and bikers converge on this area to enjoy the outside edge of the Badger Creek Wilderness and the east side of Mt. Hood where there are tons of camping, miles of hiking, and mountain biking trails among the ponderosa pines and Oregon white oak trees.

  • Location: 90 miles southeast of Portland, 40 miles south of Hood River
  • Number of sites: 3
  • Site fees: $10/site
  • Amenities: Vault toilet
  • Reservations: none (first-come, first-serve). It’s best to arrive midweek during the summer or on Sunday afternoon to grab one of the sites.

Mt. Hood Camping: Searching the Thousands of Other Sites

Timberline Trail, Mount Hood; (photo/U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region)

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to campsites in and around Mt. Hood National Forest. You could spend a lifetime exploring this area’s 2,000+ sites.

If you’d like to try, check out the Forest Service webpage on Mt. Hood camping. There you’ll find details on campground camping, dispersed camping, RV camping, group camping, and even cabin rentals. You can also check there for information on fire bans, campground closures, and camping rules in Mt. Hood National Forest. Or, try apps like The Dyrt and Hipcamp.

Even during its busiest season, there are plenty of camping sites to go around when you’re in Mt. Hood National Forest.

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Meet the app that scans over 12,500 campgrounds looking for recent cancellations so you can book last-minute campsites whenever you need them: CampScanner. Read more…

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