: Leslie Kehmeier/IMBA

Road Trip: Sandy

Outdoor adventure, comfort food and cozy cabins await at the foot of Mt. Hood.
October 10, 2016 (Updated October 23, 2023)

The community of Sandy as we know it today took shape as a crucial supply stop for emigrants on the Oregon Trail. More than 150 years later, the bustling city of 13,000 is best known as a gateway of another sort: the perfect base camp to outdoor recreation on Mt. Hood. A relaxing stay in Sandy rewards visitors with sweeping views, filling fare and plenty of fun in nearby forests. Here’s a look at the town’s many charms and what to do there all year-round.

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A viewfinder with a magnificent view of Mt. Hood in the distance.
Mt. Hood from Jonsrud Viewpoint. (Courtesy of Oregon's Mt. Hood Territory)

Head Outdoors for Epic Views and Mountain Bike Trails

Around Sandy you’ll find plenty of opportunities to get outside — whether you’re a weekend warrior who’s at the trailhead by sunrise or a nature lover in search of more leisurely walks or rides.

Family-friendly adventures await along the 10-mile Easy, Breezy, Sandy, a popular bike route that begins and ends in downtown Sandy. Along the way, riders of all skill levels enjoy views from Jonsrud Viewpoint and along Tickle Creek. Much of the ride is paved, but areas along the creek are packed gravel. Pro tip: Cyclists can find a bike station stocked with repair tools and a bike pump behind Sandy City Hall in the heart of downtown.

Jonsrud Viewpoint Park offers short walks with a view of Mt. Hood from an overlook mere steps from the parking area; enjoy unfettered views of Oregon’s tallest peak while the Sandy River snakes through its namesake valley below. Interpretive panels explain Oregon Trail-era history and identify some of the sights before you. Be sure to check out the special color blind-adapted scenic viewer that enhances color-blind visitors’ experience seeing the colors of nature. It’s one of the first parks in the U.S. to offer this technology. 

Sandy River Park is located almost directly below Jonsrud Viewpoint Park — and has roughly 2 miles of hiking paths through a forest of cedar and Douglas fir. In October and early November, head to Cedar Creek and the Sandy River to watch spawning salmon swim upstream and begin the magical life cycle anew.

For hearty mountain bikers, Sandy is synonymous with the Sandy Ridge Trail System. Just 13 miles east of town on Highway 26, riders love shredding nearly 20 miles of expertly designed, award-winning paths that cut through lush forests of Douglas fir, western red cedar and mountain hemlock. Some of the more challenging routes are outfitted with short jumps, berms, rock gardens and other obstacles for thrills around every bend.

Two BIPOC men at the counter at a restaurant.
Enjoy sweet and savory crepes at Le Happy Creperie and Bar. (Courtesy of NashCO Photo)

Fuel Up With Fast Fare and Relax on Cozy Patios

Given Sandy’s status as a jumping-off point for Mt. Hood adventure, it’s little wonder that two of the city’s best-loved eateries specialize in on-the-go fare. At the western edge of town — where Highway 26 splits in two — fuel up for the day’s fun with a breakfast burrito from Roots Market inside the Shell gas station. The burritos, a cult hit among skiers and snowboarders but available year-round, come stuffed with scrambled eggs, fresh vegetables, potatoes, hot sauce and your choice of meat; late risers can pick up tortas, tacos and standard burritos for lunch. Farther east, the cozy and colorful Joe’s Donut Shop has been cranking out fresh pastries since 1974, with a selection that includes cake doughnuts, fritters, bars and other baked goods.

For a more laid-back meal, nine restaurants around town offer year-round outdoor seating. Try a variety of dishes from nearly a dozen creative chefs at the Sandlandia World Cuisine food-cart pod, enjoy sweet and savory crepes at Le Happy Creperie and Bar, sip small-batch pints around the fire pit at family-friendly Boring Brewing and fill up on house-smoked meats at Sandbar BBQ.

Take a Piece of Sandy Home

The main drag through Sandy is full of shops and boutiques that reflect the city’s creative spirit — not to mention its passionate makers and growers. Gear up for outdoor excitement at Next Adventure, a popular local outfitter or peruse fresh produce and handmade goods at the Mount Hood Farmers Market, held on Friday afternoons between mid-May and mid-October. While you’re learning about local history at the Sandy Historical Society and Museum, save time to stop by the gift shop, where you’ll find wood jewelry, handmade soaps and more from nearly two dozen regional makers.

A large log cabin in Sandy.
Sandy Salmon Bed & Breakfast Lodge is the perfect rustic getaway. (Courtesy of Oregon's Mt. Hood Territory)

Spend the Night in Log Cabins, Cottages and More

Just a 15-minute drive east of town via Highway 26 — which cuts through the heart of Sandy — is the rustic-inspired Sandy Salmon Bed & Breakfast Lodge. Housed in a log cabin, the B&B sports bedposts crafted from tree trunks, hand-quilted bedspreads and other homey touches. Another two minutes east, the pet-friendly Mt. Hood Village RV Resort rents out vacation cottages, cabins, yurts, tiny homes, and more than 300 tent and RV sites all year long. For a convenient stay in town, opt for Best Western Sandy Inn, a pet-friendly outpost noted for its indoor pool and spa, spacious rooms and filling breakfast spread.

About The
Author

Matt Wastradowski
Matt Wastradowski is a travel and outdoors writer living in Portland, Oregon. He’s written about the outdoors, craft beer, history, and more for the likes of Outside, Portland Monthly, and Northwest Travel & Life—and has written three Oregon-centric guidebooks for Moon Travel Guides.