There is a place in Oregon that has just about everything you could ever want for being active, outside, in a beautiful setting.
There is snow (OK, a little late this year, but it’s there now) and plenty of downhill skiing — more than 4,600 acres to be exact. There are also miles of cross-country ski and snowshoe trails, fun sledding runs and serene all-weather hikes. Accompanying it all, especially on beautifully clear days, are incredible mountain vistas as far as the eye can see.
That place is Mount Hood. Here’s some of the best that Oregon’s tallest peak has to offer in the winter.
Hood is home to five unique downhill ski areas, each offering varying terrain and inspiring views of the peak. Timberline is the highest on the mountain and the only one with on-site overnight accommodations. The largest, Mt. Hood Meadows, is a mountain favorite, and Mt. Hood Skibowl in Government Camp is the closest resort to Portland. Cooper Spur Mountain Resort on the north side and Summit Ski Area on the south side are Hood’s quieter spots and great for beginners. The latter three also have tubing runs, and all the resorts have Nordic trails and terrain.
In addition to the tubing runs offered at some of the ski resorts, Mount Hood has some great sledding hills to enjoy. One of the best areas is the White River West Sno-Park on the mountain’s southeast side. It’s free (except for the $4 Sno-Park permit), spacious, scenic and offers hills of various steepness and length. Snow Bunny is not bad either, and Little John Sno-Park is another option, though it’s fairly low in elevation, so be sure to check conditions before you go.
Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing
Mount Hood’s great summer hiking trails become prime cross-country skiing and snowshoeing routes in the winter. Beginner skiers will love the 4.5-mile loop around Trillium Lake (don’t worry, the first big hill is the only one), and the 4-mile round-trip snowshoe to Mirror Lake or the stouter, 6-mile roundtrip farther on up to Tom Dick & Harry Mountain are wintertime classics. Tom Dick & Harry is also a popular backcountry skiing spot. Other great options include Twin Lakes, Bennett Pass and the Tilly Jane Trail up to Cloud Cap Inn on the north side. More advanced backcountry skiers will find nice lines and terrain at places like Snowdome and Illumination Saddle. For a hut-to-hut trip on Hood, check out Cascade Huts.
Just because there’s snow up high doesn’t mean you can’t still explore Mount Hood down low. The Salmon River Trail provides a great year-round hike among soaring old-growth cedars that line this pristine river, which begins as runoff from Hood’s Palmer Snowfield. Hood River Mountain, just outside of Hood River, is an easy little jaunt up to a stunning vista of the mountain’s north face.
If you’re into mushing or skijoring, two of the Mount Hood National Forest’s ranger districts have some suggestions for the best places to unleash the hounds.
Photo of Mount Hood courtesy of Gabriel Amadeus on Flickr.