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.
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.