No matter the time of year, especially when the thermometer creeps toward triple digits, I often find myself daydreaming about easy getaways. The perfect place must be close, but not too close, so I still feel like I’m getting away from it all. Parking needs to be a cinch, where within a three-minute walk I’m there, soaking in a magnificent mountain view with a small gem of a lake that seems so idyllic that it was created in Photoshop®. Mt. Hood fits the bill.
In the Mt. Hood National Forest, Frog Lake is one such spot. It’s 65 miles east from Portland or west from The Dalles. Here I can choose to do something or nothing at all. Since there are no motorboats buzzing by, I can paddle around on an inner tube, take a leisurely swim or race across the lake. The shoreline offers wild huckleberries waiting to be picked or trout to be reeled in for dinner over the fire. As I eat my fourth s’more, I count a million stars and make a wish on at least one. Then I crawl into my sleeping bag as the frog and cricket chorus lulls me to sleep.
Some may argue that to truly appreciate nature, one has to work for it. Spend hours, if not days, to reach the highlight of a trail such as a spectacular waterfall. Perhaps it’s cheating, but I much prefer to hike along a relatively flat path and reach the “carrot” that’s waiting for me within a relatively short period of time.
It’s not that I’m lazy. (Okay, maybe just a little bit.) Yet, I enjoy spending more time at the destination than getting to it. This does present an extra challenge to discover those out-of-the-way spots that are readily accessible but lush. Fortunately, Mt. Hood offers many for people like me.
One of my favorites is the easy hike to Little Zig Zag Falls. The trail meanders through the forest toward its thunderous namesake. As I walk back from the impressive view, I find a spot next to the creek where I can take off my shoes and relax. There I listen to the ice-cold water as it tumbles over the rocks while I feel the coolness of the moss under and between my toes.