B+S Travel Guide #4: Mt. Hood Without a Car

When the Greasebus stopped taking people up to Mt. Hood, Portland lost something great. Being able to get out of the city without a car is an amenity a city needs to be considered truly awesome. Being able to get out of the city on a vegetable oil powered shred wagon for 10 bucks put us on a whole other level. So you can imagine my stoke when I heard there was a new bus service taking people up to the mountain. It wouldn’t be quick, it wouldn’t be direct, but it was possible once again to escape the city car free. Anyways, after wrangling bus journeys through South America how hard would it be to make transfers at the Gresham Transit Station with my full backpacking kit?

Mt. Hood Express
Public Transit Rodeo

I got less and less dirty looks as I got further from the city and deeper into the Mt. Hood Wilderness. Once I stepped out at Timberline Lodge no one confused me for a street kid, which was a nice feeling. My destination was Paradise Park, an alpine meadow about 6 miles from the lodge. I found my campsite pretty early which left lots of time to read, explore waterfalls, and take wildflower pictures.

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Unfortunately, some heavy clouds and rain rolled in around 5 pm. I spent the night hiding out in my tent that was thankfully dry. I tried waiting it out the next morning but decided to start walking by 11 when it was still drizzling. I considered making it all the way back to the bus and heading home. However, once the rain broke and I found a rare wind free campsite on Zig Zag ridge, I knew I had to stay. It was a good call because that night included some top notch star gazing.

Campsite for Night #2
Campsite for Night #2

The next morning, I got back to the Timberline Lodge and settled in with a steaming cup of coffee next to the giant fireplace while I waited for my bus. I spent the long ride home buzzing with good outdoor feelings.

Working at the Hawthorne Hostel, I meet lots of travelers who don’t have cars. So whether you live here or are just visiting, here’s your guide to Mt. Hood car free. (prices as of Summer 2014)

1. Getting to the Gresham Transit Center shouldn’t be too hard. Most buses heading east, including the 9, 4, 20 and MAX Blue Line end up there.(Trimet=2.50 for a one way pass)

2. If you’re lucky you’ll see the Sandy Area Metro (SAM) right there on 8th street across from where the 9 drops off. If you’re me, you’ll see the SAM pulling away as you roll up. Don’t worry, it usually comes every half hour. (SAM=1.00)

3. Connecting from the SAM to the Mt. Hood express is too simple, they usually park right next to each other and the schedules line up so you can walk from one to the other. (Mt. Hood Express=2.00). If you have time, go around the corner to Joe’s Doughnuts and get an apple fritter!

4. You’re on your own for backpacking/hiking/or whatever else brings you to Mt. Hood. Don’t blame us if you need Bruno to lead a search party. Make sure to tell someone where you’re going and be prepared.

Copyright Timberline Lodge
Bruno from Timberline

5. There’s a good chance you’ll have to wait for the Mt. Hood Express coming down. I waited in the historic Timberline Lodge where the help desk looked up the next departure and pointed me towards some coffee (upstairs where people are waiting for the fancy brunch!)

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