While the most famous Gorge hikes tend to cluster around the west end waterfall area, the environs of Hood River  have their fair share of great trails. Three of these trails are right on the Gorge, 8 miles west of town on the south side of the highway, accessible via the Viento Park Exit (Exit 56) off I-84.
The Starvation Creek to Viento Trail is the shortest and by far the easiest of the three. Actually a restored segment of the Historic Columbia River Highway , this mostly paved path runs a little over 1 mile each way. It offers some decent Gorge views but will be of more interest to history buffs who want to retrace extant remnants of the old highway. This trail also provides access to the other two trails in the area.
Both the Mount Defiance Trail (Trail 413) and Starvation Ridge Trail (Trail 414) used to be accessible through the Starvation Creek rest stop exit off I-84, which is now closed. So walk the Starvation Creek to Viento Trail, then look for signs for either of the other trails once you get to the west side of the rest stop. Both trails eventually head for the same place, converging high above the Columbia River Gorge  just below the top of Mount Defiance. Being the highest point on the Gorge proper at 4,960 feet, Mount Defiance presents a strenuous workout for anyone up for the challenge.
Either route rewards you with spectacular views of the Gorge, as well as old-growth woods and pristine Warren Lake. The Starvation Ridge is somewhat steeper than the Mount Defiance Trail. This long loop is about 12 miles round-trip. A short 2-mile loop is also possible by following Trail 413 for 1 mile, then heading east (left) onto Trail 414. This eventually takes you back to the highway where you started. These trails are really best only for hikers due to their steepness and narrowness.
The Wygant Trail is reached from the eastbound-only Exit 58 off I-84 at Mitchell Point. Go right (west) at the top of the ramp, then follow the road heading west. This eventually becomes the trail, and it follows the old route of the Historic Highway  for a stretch. The trail eventually winds its way for almost 4 miles to the top of 2,214-foot Wygant Peak. Along the way you’ll pass through some native Oregon white oak groves, mixed conifer forests, and some openings with lovely views.
There are many beautiful trails south of Hood River  off Route 35 in Mount Hood National Forest. The East Fork Trail offers an easy but very scenic amble along the swift glacial-fed East Fork of the Hood River. Accessed from either the Robin Hood or Sherwood Campgrounds (24 miles south of Hood River) along Route 35, this trail is great on foot or mountain bike. It is about 4 miles between the two campgrounds, and the trail continues beyond the Sherwood Campground north into the Mount Hood Wilderness.
Tamanawas Falls Trail leads off from the East Fork Trail about 0.5 miles north of the Sherwood Campground. A short but steeper hike, this trail is uphill all the way to the reward—beautiful 150-foot-high Tamanawas Falls.
Perhaps the best place to experience the transition from western alpine conifer forest to interior high desert is Lookout Mountain in the Badger Creek Wilderness. This aptly named 6,525-foot peak is the second-highest in the Mount Hood National Forest. To get there, drive 25 miles south of Hood River  on Route 35 to Forest Road 44 (the Dufur cutoff). Follow it east for 5 miles up a steep hill to Forest Service Road 4410, marked for High Prairie. This route takes you 6 miles to a parking area opposite the trailhead to High Prairie Trail (Trail 493).
The 20-minute walk to the top of Lookout Mountain on Trail 493 takes you through wildflower meadows to the former site of a fire spotter’s cabin. Directly west looms Mount Hood . Turn 180 degrees and you face the sagebrush and wheat fields of eastern Oregon. To the south are the Three Sisters and Broken Top. West and north of those peaks rises Mount Jefferson ’s tricorn hat. The body of water to the southwest is Badger Lake. To the north, views of Mounts Adams , St. Helens , and Rainier  (on a clear day) will have you reeling with visual intoxication.