Mount Hood National Forest Is Proposing New or Increased Fees at More Than Two Dozen Sites

Additional charges would pay for maintenance most recreationalists expect as well as new large-scale improvement projects.

New fees could be on the way for hikers and climbers whose destination lies on or around Mount Hood.

Mount Hood National Forest has proposed new and increased charges to access 26 developed recreation sites. Included in the plan is the introduction of a climbing permit for those traveling above 9,500 feet (well above the ski areas).

Some of the more popular affected areas include the Lolo Pass and Timberline Lodge trailheads, which are currently free to use, but would require a $5 day pass if the changes are implemented. The Mount Hood Summit Pass would run climbers $20 for two days, or there is a $100 annual permit for those who make the high-elevation trek more regularly.

According to the lands agency, additional fees would pay for services recreationalists expect—clean restrooms and trash collection, for instance. Funds would also be used for new larger-scale maintenance and improvements at sites where the fees are collected. The U.S. Forest Service says visitors could expect to see increased security, improved trail connections, as well as the repair or replacement of worn amenities, such as picnic tables and fire rings.

Meanwhile, money from the new climbing permit would boost search-and-rescue missions and climber education efforts, and lead to the addition of a daily patrol along the route.

Following the implementation of a timed-ticketing system in the Columbia Gorge and permits at new locations in Central Oregon, many recreationalists in local online outdoors forums and social media groups are groaning at the prospect of yet more fees. However, areas in the new Mount Hood National Forest proposal would all be covered by the NW Forest Pass—the bright orange tags you hang from your rearview mirror, which can be purchased at any Forest Service office in the Pacific Northwest as well as REI.

If the plan is accepted, some new fees would go into effect next year. The climbing permit would be required starting in January 2024.

The Forest Service is currently taking public comments on the proposal until Sept. 30. You can contact the agency using any of the following options:

  • Email: SM.FS.R6MtHoodFees@usda.gov
  • Paper comment cards available at local Forest offices during open hours
  • Mail: Mt. Hood National Forest; Attn: Recreation Fees; 16400 Champion Way; Sandy, OR 97055
  • Public meetings: A virtual public meeting will be held in early September. Watch this space for details!