Snuggled into a pair of basins near Government Camp, the strenuous Twin Lakes Trail may not boast omnipresent vistas of Hood’s glaciated summit—as the nearby White River does—but after the first couple miles, the crowds drop away. Since motorized vehicles aren’t allowed on these trails, the only other tracks you’re likely to see as you hoof it through subalpine forest are those of roaming rabbits and bobcats—and perhaps the marks of cross-country skiers hardy enough to crest the trail’s many hills. The reward for your effort? A pair of snow-kissed lakes, frozen perhaps, the ideal spots to pull out that stashed thermos of hot cocoa and contemplate an idyllic midwinter scene, one that in a mere few weeks will disappear into spring.
ROUTE: The trail begins on the north (left) side of the parking lot, beneath a canopy of hemlock, and climbs gently uphill for two miles. At the intersection with Trail 495, stay straight (left) on the Pacific Crest Trail (look for the markers on trees) and continue for 1.6 miles. Head east (right) where Trail 495 branches off, following the terrain for about a mile and a half to Upper Twin Lake, elevation 4,400 feet. Snag one of the route’s only views of Mount Hood from the lake’s southern end—also the perfect place to refuel for the return trip. Another half mile south on Trail 495 will deliver you to Lower Twin Lake. A mile beyond that, you’ll hit the intersection with the Pacific Crest Trail. Turn left (south) here and trace your route back to the sno-park.
DIRECTIONS: Take U.S. 26 east to the intersection with Rte 35, just past Government Camp. From here, continue on U.S. 26 for about four miles to the Frog Lake Sno-Park. A Sno-Park Pass is required and runs $3 per day.