The Mud Creek Loop leaves from the popular Trillium Lake Loop, offering a great escape from the crowds. Though the Mud Creek Loop alone is 7 miles long, the entire trip is close to 10 miles once you include the shortest access from the Trillium Lake Trailhead. Completing the Trillium Lake Loop on the return would add approximately 1.2 miles with the reward of the great views just to the east of the intersection with the Trillium trail.
The Mud Creek Loop provides occasional views of Mount Hood and the hills to the west, but the main attraction is the peacefulness and solitude that can only be gained with distance. The trail can be followed in either direction, but going clockwise will concentrate most of the climbing at the beginning. After a relatively short and steep climb up to the Mud Creek ridge, the road drops into the Mud Creek drainage and follows a gentle grade back to the Trillium Loop. The Quarry Trail cut-off offers a shortcut if you want something shorter than the full loop, and you can add the Lost Man Loop if you want a slightly longer adventure. Please note that neither of these trails have been assessed for levels of difficulty.
The Trillium Lake trailhead begins at the northwest corner of the parking lot, where you will find a suggested donation box; like many of the winter trail systems in the area, operators rely on donations to offset grooming costs. The access hill drops 500 feet in the first half-mile, and it is fairly steep. Novice skiers should consider walking the hill. The trail flattens out as it intersects the 3.5-mile Trillium Lake Loop Trail. At the intersection with Trillium Lake Loop, head left for the shortest distance to the Mud Creek Loop. Take a left at the first intersection with the Mud Creek Road. The trail climbs steadily and passes the Quarry Trail near the crest of the climb. The optional Lost Man Loop splits off for those who crave a longer day. The trail continues to climb before heading west over a small pass and descending into the Mud Creek Drainage. Once you return to the Trillium Lake Loop, turn right for the quickest route back to the trailhead. Alternately, turn left to complete the Trillium Lake Loop and enjoy the Mount Hood vistas.
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.