Take in glorious views and a glassy lake on the way to the summit.
My kids, ages 7, 9 and 11, have been going on hikes with me since before they enjoyed it. (Kidding!) We have a lot of favorites, but top of the list is the Tom, Dick and Harry Mountain hike via Mirror Lake in Government Camp. My kids love this trail because of the sense of accomplishment they feel from actually summiting a mountain. They also love it because, while it’s challenging, it’s not too challenging. Solid hikers ages 5 and up should be able to handle this one, factoring in some, “are we there yets?” at steep parts toward the end.
Another great thing about this hike is there’s an easy exit strategy. About 2 miles into the hike you come to Mirror Lake, a destination in its own right. On a clear day, the lake really does act like a mirror, reflecting back Mount Hood in all its glory. On our most recent trip, in mid-June, we didn’t get treated to a reflected Mount Hood at Mirror Lake because of low clouds. But we did get to enjoy a nearly empty resting spot while watching jumping fish ripple the otherwise clear surface. This is also a natural bribing spot — aka snack break!
The trail to Mirror Lake, where the hike begins, has the added benefit of being excellently maintained. Parts of the trail are new, having been rerouted in 2018 to allow easier, and more, parking access. The trail is wide with scenic bridges and those towering conifers that make you really feel like you’re out in nature. There are a few steep parts, and you are on a pretty steady uphill, but the trail is still suitable for young kids and new hikers. You could even do this part with a baby in a backpack.
While you could stop at Mirror Lake, I would encourage you to add on the extra 1.7 miles to get to the summit of Tom, Dick and Harry Mountain. From start to finish, this makes the entire hike about 7.5 miles. If you continue on to the summit, there’s a few things to know. Once you get past Mirror Lake, the path becomes narrower and steeper. I should also warn you that there is one part of the trail that makes my anxious mom stomach clench a bit. I’m referring to a narrow section area of the trail that runs parallel to a rockslide, with an abrupt drop a few feet off the path. With abundant cautions of “stay to the side!,” we have managed to navigate it without issue. (My kids are totally unbothered by this. I think it’s a mom thing.)
Past this part, on our most recent hike, we encountered a few patches of snow and a number of downed trees. I read the comments about trail conditions from recent hikers on AllTrails.com, so we knew what was coming and were prepared to turn around if we needed to. In the end, the fallen limbs were totally passable, and the kids even enjoyed scrambling over them at times. But for the most part, we got around them by walking slightly off trail and following in the footsteps of folks who had veered off before us. We never felt lost or confused about which way to go next. Because of this, though, and because of that ledge part, I would not feel comfortable taking a baby in a backpack past Mirror Lake.
There are several more sharp, rocky parts throughout the second half of the hike, especially for the last few hundred yards. Since my kids have done this hike now a number of times, they look forward to the final rocky scramble, because that means they are nearly there! After the final rock hurdling, you make it to the summit and the view — a view that seems almost unfair for only 3.7 miles of effort.
On a clear day, you can see five mountains from the peak — Mount Hood front and center, plus Mount Adams, Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens and Mount Jefferson. And even on very cloudy days, like we had, you should still be able to see an impressively close Mount Hood. It is the perfect spot to stop for lunch and admire where your hard work brought you.
Pro Tip: Plan this hike for late July or August. During huckleberry season, you pass by hundreds of wild huckleberry bushes. Last summer, I came prepared with a Tupperware container and we collected enough huckleberries for a delicious huckleberry syrup. This went on a no-guilt, celebratory scoop — oh, who am I kidding, a few scoops — of vanilla ice cream. A sweet end to a tremendous hike.
Before you go:
Parking: By Meadows at the Mirror Lake Trailhead off Highway 26.
Note: $5 recreational parking pass is required.