We found a great hike just past Hood River that’s worth checking out. It’s the Tom McCall Preserve Park. There is conflicting information about how long it is, but from what I gather, you can do two hikes and one is about 2 miles and the other is about 3 miles. The longer one is right off the roundabout parking lot. The shorter one takes you to to two lakes, or what I would call ponds, and has a nice view of the Columbia, except highway 84 drums along below.
This hike is in that weird area that is not yet central Oregon, but also not quite Mount Hood forest. This means that it doesn’t get as much rainfall as the Mt Hood forest and it gets a whole lot more sun, which is a good thing because I’m pretty sure this hike would be a big mud slide if it got any more rain.
It also has the Ponderosa pines of Central Oregon.
We went in late fall just before it closed so we didn’t get to see wild flowers, but apparently it is full of wild flowers during wild flower times of year. I think it’s a good starter hike for the year because the 3 miler is steep but short and not undo-able steep. Once you get to the top, you have nice views of the Willamette, and you feel accomplished.