Potato Hill Backcountry Tour

Willamette National Forest

Mt. Jefferson + Metolius River Area, Oregon

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Potato Hill Backcountry Tour

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  • Headed up the forest service road toward Potato Hill.- Potato Hill Backcountry Tour
  • Looking back to the west during the skin in.- Potato Hill Backcountry Tour
  • Wind scoured surfaces - variable terrain is to be expected.- Potato Hill Backcountry Tour
  • Nearing the top of Potato Hill. Three Fingered Jack and Mount Jefferson are prominent to the north.- Potato Hill Backcountry Tour
  • Looking south from the summit. Hoodoo Ski Area, Mount Washington, and the Sisters all visible.- Potato Hill Backcountry Tour
  • A beautiful view from the top of Potato Hill, with Three Fingered Jack and Mount Jefferson prominent along the northern horizon.- Potato Hill Backcountry Tour
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Easy access. Great viewpoints.
Cons: 
Low elevation snowpack. Limited vertical descent.
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Alerts: 
August, 2017: The expanding Whitewater Fire has caused the Forest Service to close significant portions of the Mount Jefferson Wilderness at least through August 21, the day of the solar eclipse. The closures may expand, and they may extend beyond August 21. More information can be found here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd553952.pdf https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5420/
Region:
Mt. Jefferson + Metolius River Area, OR
Max slope angle: 
15-30 degrees
Parking Pass: 
Sno-Park Parking Permit (required in OR + WA 11.01 thru 04.30)
Total Distance: 
5.00 mi (8.05 km)
Trailhead Elevation: 
4,050.00 ft (1,234.44 m)
Vertical descent: 
1,000.00 ft (304.80 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Pro Contributor

Those familiar with backcountry skiing in the Cascades are also familiar with long, flat approaches. When snowpack allows, lower elevation locations like Potato Hill offer the chance to ski some new terrain while also not requiring the substantial approach commitment of more traditional objectives. 

The standard approach is to park at the Potato Hill Sno-Park and skin up NF-830 to the summit. This coincides with the snowshoe trail for a portion. Alternatively, Potato Hill can be accessed from the east by beginning from the Hoodoo Ski Area. Both routes are approximately the same distance, but the eastern approach may be slightly shorter depending on the final destination on the hill. Much of the area was burned in the Booth fire in 2003, so there is little protection from the elements. 

The top of Potato Hill offers 360-degree views, and many prominent peaks are visible. The closest is Three Fingered Jack, 4.5 miles to the northeast, but Mount Washington isn't much farther to the southeast. Most will choose to ski the steeper, more protected northern aspects, although other descents are certainly possible when conditions allow. Ski descents up to 1,000 vertical feet can be had, but more frequently skiers opt for shorter, repeating laps on the upper 500 to 700 vertical feet. 

Backcountry Safety

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.

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(59 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(113 within a 30 mile radius)

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Adventure Community

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