With world-class fruit blossom displays and wildflower hikes, Hood River always welcomes spring with open arms. Here are the top three ways for visitors to fully immerse themselves in the splendor:
1. Explore the Hood River County Fruit Loop, the epicenter of Hood River’s blossom bonanza. Just driving along this 35-mile self-guided route, past acres upon acres of cherry and apple blossoms, is a feast for the eyes. Starting in early April, the cherry, apple and pear trees in the Hood River Valley welcome spring’s return by releasing vibrant pink and white flowers. They start in the lower elevations and, like a domino effect, move up the valley creating a patchwork of color.
The Fruit Loop experience is enhanced exponentially by stopping at one or more of the many orchards for cider, jam, fresh-baked goods and other farm-made goodies, or visiting the cideries, where you can sample hard ciders made with local fruit. During Blossom Time, which takes place throughout April, various Fruit Loop stops hold special events, from family-friendly farm events and craft shows to wine tastings and culinary specials. The centerpiece for Blossom Time is the Hood River Hard-Pressed Cider Fest (April 20, 2019), which brings together 29 local and regional cideries and more than 50 hard ciders on tap for one spectacular, cider-infused afternoon. (See below for more information on this year’s festival.)
Photo credit: Bear Boot Productions
2. Hike among the wildflowers. The Columbia River Gorge Natural Scenic Area is known for its amazing wildflower displays. The Mosier Plateau Trail, located just five miles east of Hood River in the town of Mosier, offers more than 30 different flower species. This 3.5-mile loop follows Mosier Creek through Pocket Park and ends on Mosier Plateau, which is owned by Friends of the Columbia Gorge Land Trust. More wildflower hike ideas are here.
3. Pair blossom viewing with wine tasting. Hood River’s numerous wineries are the perfect place to relax and take in the blossomy views during the spring. Stave & Stone’s new tasting room, tucked high up in the Hood River Valley, is one such perfect place to do so.
Photo credit: MountNbarreL
Hood River Hard-Pressed Cider Fest
On April 20, 2019, Hood River will again be the epicenter for the region’s hard cider scene, thanks to the sixth annual Hood River Hard-Pressed Cider Fest. The 2019 festival – which appropriately takes place at a fruit-packing house in the heart of Hood River Valley, surrounded by fruit orchards in bloom – features 29 local and regional cideries, including five that are new to the festival. The 2019 cidery lineup is at hoodriver.org/cider-fest/.
The participating cideries will be sampling more than 50 original ciders that showcase the wide variety of styles coming out of the Pacific Northwest’s cider scene. To add to the festivities, there’s live music all day, plus local food carts.
Families and those with ‘fur babies’ should take note: New for 2019 is an expanded interactive kids’ zone, hosted by Our Children’s Place Academy, with games, crafts and cider-centered projects, plus a new “dog parking” service, thanks to Kind Animal Services. The latter is by reservation only; space is limited, and there is an hourly fee. For reservations, email firstname.lastname@example.org. (Note that dogs are not allowed within the event area.)
For online tickets, go to hoodriver.org/cider-fest/.