While most travelers approach Mount Hood from Portland in the west, Oregon route 35 presents a scenic alternative on the mountain’s eastern flank. For the first 15 miles the highway leaves the city of Hood River and travels through farmland and rural areas. You’ll see glimpses of the mountain throughout this part.
After that the highway get more interesting as it follows the east fork of the Hood river. You don’t see Mount Hood again until a bit before the junction with US 26, however. At this point you can travel a bit (west) on US 26 and take the turnoff to the Timberline Lodge ski area. The lodge is two miles up the road and has superb views of the mountain and the Cascade Range to the south — make sure to explore some of the trails from the lodge if you’ve got the time.
On the way back down the mountain, take one of your first right-hand turn offs after the parking lot — this road is a nice alternative that takes you through dense forests and some of the ski runs. If you’re returning to Hood River, consider taking Lolo Pass Rd back — it's on the Great Drives wishlist and looks to be a nice drive through the trees (be aware that it may have gravel sections, however).
If you’re in the Portland area and don't want to go to Hood River (although either side of the Columbia River are nice drives), take US 26 directly to Mt Hood — it’s certainly worth a visit by itself.