Once spring has sprung, The Fruit Loop, in the Hood River area of Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge, makes for a great destination. You’ll enjoy the area—not only for the food and wine—but for the views and relaxation that come with a drive in the country. So get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and head for The Fruit Loop in Hood River, Oregon.
What to Expect in the Hood River Valley
When you head for the Hood River Valley, you’ll enjoy a day or two of mountain views, colorful orchards, and welcoming wineries. Many farms and wineries are family run. You’ll have the opportunity to chat with farmers and winemakers to learn about growing and producing the agricultural products of the area. And when your tour is done, you’ll be able to bring fruit, produce, wine and gifts home to enjoy.
The 35-mile Fruit Loop in the Hood River Valley is a collection of farms, orchards, vineyards, wineries, and interesting agricultural businesses. They are tied together by a common desire to open up their tasting rooms, orchards and farms to visitors who may want to taste the grape, pick a pear or shop for jams. Expect stunning scenery. The area is bordered by the Columbia River and majestic Mount Hood.
Tips for Experiencing The Fruit Loop
Before you go, download a Fruit Loop map from the website. You’ll be able to map out your drive, find out which farms offer U-Pick and learn where to go for wine tastings.
The Hood River Valley is unique at different times of the year. It is beautiful to visit during the beautiful blossom season. Blossoms begin near the end of March and continue throughout May. The fruit tree blossoms are at their peak in mid-April. Another exciting time to go is at harvest time. Fall foliage begins turning in September and continues through November.
Keep in mind that certain weekends will be busier than others. There are special events scheduled throughout the season:
- Hood River Cherry Days in July
- Gravenstein Apple Days in August
- Hood River Pear Celebration in September
- Heirloom Apple Days in October
You can enjoy The Fruit Loop on a day trip but a longer stay gives you time to enjoy hiking trails, explore the town of Hood River and dine at some of the fabulous farm to table restaurants in the area.
Bring the kids. There is plenty of fun for them, too. I’ve encountered alpaca in a field across the road from a winery and petted goats at a fruit stand. City kids will discover where their food comes from and, perhaps, pick some apples to take home and make an apple pie.
Dining on The Fruit Loop
Dining is fabulous during your visit to the Hood River Valley, because you have a chance to enjoy the local food and wine. I especially recommend dining at Celilo Restaurant and Bar on Oak Street in Hood River. They feature upscale Pacific Northwest cuisine and have a great local wine list.
If you want something more casual, head down to the riverfront area to Solstice Wood Fire Cafe and Bar on Portway Avenue. Solstice is a locavore hangout known for their creative wood fired pizza. Try their award winning (Food Network) Country Girl cherry, chorizo and goat cheese pizza. They offer local microbrews and a full bar with specialty cocktails.
Fruit Loop for the Wine Enthusiast
If you want to focus on wine along Oregon’s Fruit Loop, the Columbia Gorge Winegrowers offer seasonal itineraries that will make sure you visit a variety of local wineries to taste fine wine as well as enjoy the scenery along the way.
I’ve followed two of these seasonal itineraries and highly recommend them. The fall itinerary was different from the spring itinerary I experienced. Last spring it was cherry harvest time and the wineries on the list were in the east end of the gorge, including women-owned Aniche Cellars across the bridge in Washington. The spring itinerary took us in a completely different direction, to different wineries and to a beautiful place on Mt. Hood for a waterfall hike.
When You Visit Oregon’s Fruit Loop
If you were unable to print out a map from the website, know that printed copies of the Hood River County Fruit Loop Map listing Fruit Loop farms, attractions, and individual operating hours are available at the Hood River Visitor’s Center off Exit 63 on I-84 and at Fruit Loop locations.
Maps are also available at the Mt. Hood Country Store on Highway 35 at the south end of the Hood River Valley. Some lodging and restaurants also have printed maps.
The Hood River County Fruit Loop is just an hour away from Oregon’s largest city, Portland. A drive to Hood River via I-84 through the Columbia River Gorge is a beautiful way to enjoy the trip.