“We have so many great rivers to raft, lakes to swim at and mountains to climb, we never run out of things to do or places to see,” says Kasey McCullough, head brewer and owner of Working Hands Fermentation in Hood River, Oregon.
“We truly are spoiled to live in a place this beautiful and diverse, and I try to never take that for granted.”
Whether you want to hike, ski, fly fish or anything in between, the region is ripe with adventure and picturesque landscapes within a three-hour drive from the Portland International Airport (PDX).
Here are some of the best spots to explore, according to beer and cider pros.
Working Hands Fermentation
Hood River, Oregon
Working Hands Fermentation offers German-style lagers, cold-fermented IPAs, Kölschs, hard ciders and more. When Kristyn Fix, operations manager and owner, isn’t working in the taproom, you’ll find her “at the water.”
“We live on the majestic Columbia River, which is one of the top destination spots for windsurfing and kiteboarding in the world,” she says. “It also has tributaries where you can float, swim, fish, whitewater raft, splash or just lay out and take a dip when you’re hot.”
Fix also likes to kayak on Laurance Lake. Make sure to keep an eye out for bald eagles.
When McCullough isn’t working, he’s looking for quiet trails with his girlfriend and two dogs.
“Soda Peaks Lake trail is at the top of the list,” he says.
But McCullough’s favorite way to get outside and beat the heat? White water rafting.
“I grew up in Dufur, [Oregon], close to Maupin, [Oregon], where the Deschutes River is the king of summer,” he says.
Little Beast Brewing
Little Beast Brewing offers everything from traditional lagers and IPAs to wild-yeast fermented, wood-aged beers.
When Charles Porter, founder and brewmaster, isn’t mixing up funky brews, he enjoys hiking, foraging and archery hunting.
He especially likes to head to Mount Hood, just over an hour from PDX, where there are miles of trails to hike.
“I love to hike the Timberline Trail,” says Porter. “It circumnavigates the whole mountain. I have done a lot of sections of it but still haven’t completed the whole trail in one trip, [but] soon!”
One of the routes Porter has done is the Vista Ridge Trail to Elk Cove where he camped overnight.
“It is steep terrain at times,” warns Porter, and certainly people should check conditions before going. But the reward is worth it.
“The view from Elk Cove is absolutely amazing. You sit right at the face of the mountain, it seems to just come out of the ground at your feet with sheer cliffs, talus slopes, snow fields and glaciers.”
Husband-and-wife duo Theo and Sonia Marie Leikam started their namesake kosher brewery in 2014. Beers are brewed in their backyard and a portion of the sales go to charitable organizations like Habitat for Humanity, the Pink Boots Society and more.
“Being as we don’t get much time to be together as a family, berry picking with my kids is top of the list, followed by a lazy afternoon at the river,” says Sonia Marie.
They like to head to Sauvie Island, which is home to family-friendly hikes, bird watching and public beaches.
“If we want to really have an adventure, we head over [to] Bauman’s Farm & Garden in Gervais, where we source our cider from, and then find a place to explore near the Pudding River,” she says.
Double Mountain Brewery and Cidery
Hood River and Portland, Oregon
Opened in 2007, Double Mountain Brewery and Cidery is known for “aggressively balanced hop-forward beers and a lauded sour program,” says Tyler Justice Allen, brewer and cidermaker. Off the clock, Allen fly fishes the “Columbia River tributaries from the Sandy River to the John Day River depending on conditions and timing,” he says. “Salmon fly season on the Deschutes can’t be beat when the bugs are hatching.”
In the winter, you’ll find Allen on the slopes—but not waiting in any lines.
“Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams both have incredible backcountry access if you’re willing to look for it,” he says.