The norheast side of Mount Hood is a spectacular sight on a winter day. Snow capped ridges and large ravines create the perfect photo opportunity for the active adventurer. One of he best spots to enjoy these views is the Cooper Spur stone shelter.
The Tilly Jane Trail takes snowshoe and ski-touring adventurers 3.7 miles through deep Oregon forest to up above the tree line of Mount Hood. Starting at the Tilly Jane Sno-Park near the Cooper Spur Ski and Recreation Area, the route begins in the thick mountain forest common in the Mount Hood area. As the trail continues over snow capped streams, backcountry travelers get their first view of the mountain from the trail through the ghost forest remains of the 2008 Gnarl Ridge fire.
The burned out forest is spectacularly silhouetted against a fresh layer of snow, and provides excellent views of the mountain and surrounding area as you continue climb 2.5 miles and 1,900 feet to the Tilly Jane Cabin. The cabin is rentable, and free to stop at if unlocked. Reservations are required to spend the night.
After the cabin, the trail splits to the left through more evergreen forest that slowly thins as you approach the timberline. Gaining over 1,000 feet in only 1.3 miles to the shelter, the trail requires endurance and the occasional break to stare at the mountain. As the trees grow shorter, the wind picks up, and you may find yourself fending off wind burn with whatever attire you have.
The Cooper Spur rock shelter itself is a remnant of the Civilian Conservation Corps initiative of the 1930s. The shelter is a stop for travelers along the Timberline Trail, but it offers light protection from the elements. It does, however, provide an excellent place to stop and enjoy a lunch on your trip before making your descent.
Heading down the mountain is much quicker than your slog to the shelter. Skiers can make the trip down in matter of minutes, whereas snowshoe adventurers can typically cut their ascent time in half.
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.