The Mount Hood Meadows Nordic trail system can be thought of as an Eastside network and a Westside network, with an access road that divides the two. You can start any trail in this system at the Nordic Center in the parking lot attached to the Eastside trails, where you can purchase your nordic pass, warm up on a cold day, get some instruction and rent gear.
Though the Heather Canyon Trail begins on the north side of the parking lot halfway between the Nordic Center and the Alpine Service Center, begin at the Nordic Center to buy trail passes and to check avalanche conditions. Heather Canyon does slide with some frequency higher up the mountain, and the ski patrol occasionally closes the entire trail when conditions warrant it.
Once you have the information and your pass, ski to the north around the parking lot, and look for the Heather Canyon backcountry trail on your right. Nordic access is limited on this trail due to downhill resort traffic, but there are nearly 2 miles of wide, groomed conditions on a trail that affords big views of Mount Hood as it follows Clark Creek up the canyon. The trail is also perfect for several repetitions or laps. A gradual ascent will keep you working as you ski in while the descent is just steep enough to reward your efforts on the way out. Having intermediate descent skills will make the run out a little more comfortable. Skiers should be aware that the canyon and run out are part of the alpine trial network, so watch out for downhill traffic and keep to the side of the trail when possible.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.