Mount Hood Guide: Into the Woods

Where to Snowshoe, XC Ski, and Sled on Mount Hood

Not into high-speed descents and expensive gear? Get out in the snow, one foot at a time.

By Christopher Van Tilburg November 20, 2017 Published in the December 2017 issue of Portland Monthly

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XC skiing at Teacup Lake


Crosstown Trail

Easy 5½ miles out-and-back
The Crosstown Trail meanders alongside the quaint ski village hub of Government Camp, often protected from the storms that whirl above Timberline. Tromp over bridges that ford icy creeks and through thick woods of snow-clad Douglas fir, lodgepole pine, mountain hemlock, and western red cedar. The route ascends a modest 400 feet from Glacier View Sno-Park to Summit Ski Area, where hot cocoa awaits.

Mirror Lake

Hard 3½-mile lollipop loop (including 1 mile round trip from Skibowl West)
Mirror Lake is a worthy uphill jaunt for those who want to test their legs. From Ski Bowl West, hike along the road to the trailhead, ascend a series of switchbacks that gain 700 feet through dense Douglas fir forest, and arrive at the snow-covered lake. From the open meadow, you’ll spy the top of Mount Hood in its most postcard-worthy form. Slurp your Thermos-packed lunch and zip around the lake before heading back down. 

XC Skiing

Teacup Lake

Easy 1.2 miles out-and-back (to end of Lakeside Trail)
Teacup Lake is the bustling center of Mount Hood’s Nordic scene. Kick and glide the short junket to the lake on Lakeside Trail and then tack on one of several well-marked loops to extend your tour. The 12 miles of trails are groomed for both classic and skate skiing, with no dogs or snowshoes to muss the smooth cruising. Stop in at the toasty Ray Garey Cabin, a respite from the elements and a spirited social scene on weekends.

Tilly Jane

Hard 5 miles out and back
A deceptively difficult climb, the Tilly Jane Trail ascends 2,000 feet in just 2.5 miles, ending at the Cloud Cap–Tilly Jane Historic District. The trail zigzags through a thick forest and then traverses a ridge lined with spectacular silver snags of the 2008 Gnarl Ridge fire. On a clear day, gawk at the expansive views of the Hood River Valley and explore the A-frame shelter built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Spend the night (by reservation only) with up to 20 friends, warmed by the heat of a giant woodstove.


Hood’s kid-friendly sledding stalwart, Snow Bunny, lies three miles east of Government Camp on the original East Leg Timberline Road, with a rope tow on winter weekends (tubes provided). On the east side of the mountain, Little John Sno-Park has a bring-your-own-sled hill and an old warming hut. On the sun-drenched south side, White River West Sno-Park dishes out an enormous view of the giant chasm of White River Glacier; the sledding hill is a short way north of the parking lot.

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