As you head east on Oregon’s Highway 26 towards Mt. Hood, the towns get smaller, the trees taller, and the first time you come face to face with majestic Mt. Hood (elev. 3,427 meters/11,245 feet) is sheer magic.
We’re on a two-day adventure in Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory, exploring the area both on foot and by kayak. If Mt. Hood is in your plans, Timberline Lodge offers the most unique (and historic) spot to hang your hat.
Built in the mid 1930’s by US Works Progress Administration workers, iconic Timberline Lodge was dedicated in September 1937 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977.
This beautiful property has the distinction of being the only 20th century building of its size constructed and furnished entirely by hand.
The wood, wrought iron, watercolours, mosaics and stained glass must be seen to be appreciated. Skilled tradesmen left their mark on The Timberline and much of their handiwork remains to this day.
The beams and supports were created from fir – by hand – later shaped by broadax and smoothed by adze (a cutting tool that dates back to the Stone Age).
Downstairs in the lower lobby is a small museum showing a short film (Builders of Timberline) explaining the hotel’s history, from a humble ski resort to film set. Timberline Lodge also starred in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining’s opening exterior shots.
Historic photographs hung throughout the building add to the atmosphere. The interior is at once welcoming and cozy. Large wooden desks, tables and couches encircle the large lounge with a stone fireplace at its center.
And much like the furniture, the lighting fixtures too are original. In fact, the hotel works closely with an organization called Friends of Timberline to ensure that any updates are done to original specs. Even the curtains are hand-sewn when they need repair.
Timberline’s rustic rooms contain wood furnishings and more pretty lighting. During Timberline’s era, soundproofing hotels and lodges was optional. Rooms contain earplug packets and a strict quiet policy is in effect from 10 pm to 9 am.
There’s an air vent in the room that rattles if you leave the window open. Luckily air flowed out of that vent so we were able to sleep. Still, we couldn’t help but feel a morsel of regret as mountain air always provides a sound sleep. You win some, you lose some.
Bottom line: if you can reserve a mountain-view room, you’ll wake to one of the most gorgeous, front-row view of snow-capped Mt. Hood possible.
The outdoor pool and hot tub are heated year-round. There’s also a small sauna located a level down from the pool area.
The big draw here is obviously outdoor pursuits. Skiing, boarding, snowshoeing, cycling and hiking keep the lodge busy throughout each season.
We took the Magic Mile Sky Ride where we watched skiers and boarders play in the sunshine at over 11,000 feet — in mid-June (during winter, the area contains over 1,500 skiable acres with 42 trails).
There’s a few options: Cascade Dining Room for breakfast buffet and fine dining in the evening and The Blue Ox Bar for casual fare. The Ram’s Head Bar on the second floor offers up some great mountain views. For hearty fare, it’s across the road to Wy’East Cafe (think pizza, pasta, burgers, burritos — great for refueling when skiing, boarding or hiking).
The Cascade Dining Room a commanding space that forms the hotel’s heart. Chef Jason Stoller Smith and team seek out Oregon’s bounty, from northwest artisan cheeses to locally-raised, lodge-butchered beef and pork, raised hormone and antibiotic-free.
A few items on the menu caught our eye: Puget Sound Manilla clams, Draper Valley chicken, Alder-smoked tails-n-trotter’s Danish pork collar (with roasted polenta, asparagus, radish, sunny side up egg, pickled mustard seeds), sea scallops with Alder-smoked steelhead roe, snap peas, roasted carrots, fregola sarda, apple julienne in a carrot-apple vinaigrette.