The Cascade Huts offer a network of well stocked huts on Mount Hood that include the Barlow Ridge Hut and the Barlow Butte Hut. Visitors can choose to make the White River Hut their sole destination, but it is also possible to link multiple huts together for a grand tour. The huts are stocked with sleeping bags and kitchenware, so all you really need to bring is a sleeping bag liner and food.
While there may be some fellow cross-country skiers and snowshoers near the Barlow Sno-Park, these crowds tend to diminish once you reach Devil's Half Acre. The cross-country ski route is just technical enough to keep things interesting. Since there's a fair amount of descent along the inbound trail, it helps to be an experienced cross-country skier. The trail travels along the historic Barlow Road, the main route through the Cascades for settlers headed west along the Oregon Trail. While there are historic markers along the way, these will most likely be covered in a good snow year. Barlow Road is easy to navigate, tracks should be well established, and with enough snow, it is easy to ski. When snow levels are low, skiers may be forced to navigate downed trees and small creeks.
After about 4 miles of mostly descent on Barlow Road, keep an eye out for the turn onto Forest Road 240, which can be tricky to spot when the snow is fresh. You'll have a slight climb of just over a mile on 240 to reach the White River Hut.
Note that when snow conditions are light, this trip will probably be easier on snowshoes. Keep in mind that you'll be losing elevation between the Barlow Pass Sno-Park and the hut, so make sure to check the snowpack at the elevation of the hut to decide between skis and snowshoes.
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.