Rising 1,800 feet up Mount Hood’s snowy southern flank, this abandoned-road-turned- ski-trail links the bustling village of Government Camp and the historic Timberline Lodge. Bookended by civilization, it’s an ideal spot for novice snow-shoers and backcountry skiers who want to test their winter legs without wandering too far off the beaten path. On blustery days, a thick stand of Douglas firs shields climbers from biting winds, and thanks to the gentle grade, the trail is a safe bet even when Hood’s steep upper slopes are avalanche prone.
ROUTE: From Summit Ski Area, make the short climb up the West Leg Trail to the top of the chairlift. The Alpine Trail begins directly behind the lift and meanders gently uphill through snowy glades of conifers. After approximately a mile, the path begins a short, steep climb up Big Mazama Hill before popping out of the forest near Timberline’s Jeff Flood Express chairlift. From here, climbers can either ascend to the lodge for a hot-chocolate break or simply point their skis downhill and glide back toward “Govy” for a well-earned oatmeal stout at the Ice Axe Grill.
TRAILHEAD DIRECTIONS: From Portland, travel 54 miles east on Highway 26 to Government Camp. Continue on Highway 26 and follow the sign for Summit Ski Area. Turn left onto Government Camp Loop. Park in the public Sno-Park at Summit Ski Area on your right. Sno-Park permit required.