A Thousand Shades of Green: Hiking the Salmon River Trail

On the second (and last) day of our mini vacation to Mt Hood, we decided to hike the Salmon River trail. (You can read about our day one hike up to Mirror Lake here).

This hike came highly recommended as a great option for families with small children and it didn’t disappoint. The trail was mostly flat and free of treacherous drop offs, so the kids were able to run ahead until I felt the need to call them closer out of fear that they might dive into the frigid water. They’d return for about three minutes and then run off again. It gave me time to relax and enjoy the scenery and, of course, take a few photographs.

The walk itself can best be described as looking like a scene out of Jurassic Park with about a thousand different shades of green. A light rain was falling when we first first set out on our hike but the sun started to appear on the way back which changed the scene so much that I joked to Kei about walking it again just to retake the photos. OK, I was only half joking.

Recently, Samuel has been telling me that he sees a faces and objects in trees, clouds and other elements of nature. He told me this one looked like a face. Should I be worried?

But I’ll admit that I can see the monkey hanging from the tree in this one.

And then he made a face of his own in an apple…

We stopped for a quick snack.

After which the boys sang me a song in Japanese (I bribed them with my Luna Bar).

We then took a few minutes to skip some rocks. Kei took this next photo of me. It’s not the most flattering and shows my poor rock-skipping skills, but I suppose it’s proof that was there.

Side note to the people who left their trash in a fire pit (including an old pair of socks): NOT COOL. I can only assume you’re not Oregonian because an Oregonian would never do anything so thoughtless and disgusting. We carried out as much of the trash as we could but I am not your mother. Rant over.

Finally, after a little more exploring, we headed back to the car and then home to Portland.

We only left for two days, but it really felt like an escape and it was just what we needed.

Mirror Lake (Without Much Mirror)

As I mentioned previously, we headed up to Mt Hood on the weekend for a short birthday/anniversary/just-needed-a-break vacation. It felt good to get out of the city, even if we only had to drive an hour to get there. We stayed at The Resort at the Mountain which was nice. Nothing extra fancy but a pretty good deal at about $125 a night for the fours of us. If the weather had let up a little then I’m sure we would have made better use of the amenities like the basketball hoop and croquet field. But, bad weather means fewer people and we had the mini golf and swimming pool/hot tub all to ourselves so there was a definite upside to the rain and cold.

The bad weather also meant very few people braved the hiking trails, which was a definite win for us. On Saturday morning we set out for Mirror Lake, a 3.2 mile return hike. It wasn’t too difficult but the distance to the lake was all uphill and the kids were pretty tired by the time we finally saw some water and even a little snow. It was good thing I pulled together an impromptu scavenger hunt before we left the hotel. At times, I think that might have been the only thing that motivated Thomas to keep going.

We found almost everything. I think the ants and worms decided to hide from the rain and expecting to see a feather and nest might have been a little ambitious. Still it kept the boys occupied for the first part of the trek, especially after I reassured Thomas that Samuel would still be able to open an early birthday present (the reward) even if we didn’t find everything. The important thing was that we tried.

The walk up to the lake itself wasn’t particularly interesting. And I realize that, by saying that, I have just shown how much I have become accustomed to the beautiful nature that surrounds me every day in Oregon. So, when I say that it wasn’t very interesting, I mean by gorgeous Oregon standards. I’m sure people who live in Arizona feel the same way about the desert.

The hiking trail was muddy, and at times slippery with steep drop offs. We also expected it to head downhill at some point because aren’t all lakes at lower altitudes? Apparently not, because just when Kei and I were growing concerned that we’d missed a turnoff, we stumbled upon this…

It was beautiful. The hike was worth it and I’d even consider doing it again on a better day just to see this place in the sunshine.

I could see where the naming inspiration came from. There was still a little bit of mirror even on a grey, dreary day.


If you’re looking for a relatively easy family hike on Mt Hood, then I’d definitely recommend Mirror Lake. I read that the trail gets crowded during the busy late Spring/Summer season but it was almost deserted while we were there. I’d also recommend that you buy a parking pass from the Ranger station before you head up so you don’t have to leave a note on your car promising that you’ll get one later. We thankfully didn’t get a ticket and followed through on our promise the next day.

Coming soon: More hiking adventures.