Our first time to Hood River, my wife and I had absolutely no idea of what lay behind the town, on the way up to Mt. Hood. So we took a Saturday afternoon and did the Fruit Loop, 36 different stands that banded together 15 years ago to sell the bounty of the Hood River Valley directly. Looping mostly along Highways 35 and 281, with plenty of back road ventures, we spent the better part of the day driving, eating, and picking.

And what a tour: we arrived at the very tail end of cherry season, but managed to buy two pounds of Bings from Cherry Karma’s “Purple Pit Spot,” enough to make a pie.

Just beyond, we stopped at Panorama Point for picture-perfect views of Mt. Hood. Further on, the Gorge White House—a 1910 Dutch Colonial Revival, and only occupied in its time by two families—hosts wine tastings and a 9-acre garden of snapdragons, lilies, dahlias, and sunflowers with views to Washington’s Mt. Adams.

We stopped at Rasmussen’s Farms for apricots, and the Cookie Stop Bakery for snicker doodles and molasses cookies for our picnic lunch at the Toll Bridge County Park. There were family reunions, horseshoe games, and the East Fork Hood River flowing through, milky with glacial silt—camping, too.

At Nelson’s Blueberry Farm, “the blueberry farm with the best view of Mt. Hood,” says the owner, we bucketed five quarts of fat, no-spray berries in no time flat. Down the road, I stopped to gawk at the alpacas on the Good Fortune Farms, source of an extravagant and luxurious wool. And the Lavender Valley Lavender Farm—well, imagine that kind of color with a mountain backdrop.

No trip to the Gorge is complete without a bit of wine tasting, which we took in at Cathedral Ridge Winery—five free tastings—and Hood River Vineyards. We came out of the Valley with cherries, apricots, blueberries, an ’07 Halbtrocken, an ’03 Sangiovese, and stained fingers.

For more information on local Hood River wine and cuisine, please visit www.TravelOregon.com/bounty. Now is the perfect time to visit!

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These maps and directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results. For travel options, weather and road conditions, visit tripcheck.com, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941.

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  1. Rick Hamell says…

    I love the fruit loop tour, especially later on in late September or so. We’ll get a couple of boxes of mixed apples and pears to snack on and make into pie. Not to mention corn and pumpkins.

    If you get the chance, riding the train from Hood River to Parksdale is really fun too.

    Written on August 12th, 2008 / Flag this Comment
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