The Twin Lakes snowshoe is a pleasant outing that provides a variety of snowshoe terrain. Beginning in the Hyak Sno-Park, the trek follows the Iron Horse Trail, which is set atop an old railroad grade and parallels I-90 as it crosses the scenic Keechelus Lake. This first section near Hyak can get crowded with cross-country skiers, sledders, and snowshoers on the weekend. The interval on the Iron Horse Trail is a good, flat path that allows you to get comfortable with your pace and your snowshoes.
The time spent on the Iron Horse Trail is only a warm up, however, and you'll quickly make the short ascent to a Forest Service road that is more removed from the sounds of the interstate and other skiers. You'll spend the bulk of the adventure on this road, and with no interstate sounds and fewer people, it's a nice, quiet walk through a beautiful forest. Be sure to watch for wildlife as you move through the old-growth.
Note that both the Iron Horse Trail and Forest Service road are often groomed, so be sure to stick to the edge of the tracks with your snowshoes.
At a distinct turn in the road, roughly 3 miles from the start, follow the simple directions to find Twin Lakes in the backcountry. There is a summer path leading to Twin Lakes from the road, but the snow renders it nearly impossible to find, so for about a mile you'll find yourself ambling in a winter wonderland full of trackless snow and old-growth forest. And as long as you keep the rambling Cold Creek within earshot and to your left, it's hard to get lost. Twin Lakes itself is a nice respite of open land in the midst of thick coverage, and the impressive solitude is marked by a single gushing waterfall across the lake. When you are ready to leave, heading back home is the easy part of the Twin Lakes adventure: just follow your tracks back to the car.
Before you head out on your next Mount Hood adventure, make sure you have the right gear!
Here's a list of our go-to snowshoeing essentials to get you started:
Cushioned, Made in USA, Ultralight, 98.8 oz
Waterproof, Adjustable Drawcord Hem, Pit Zips, GORE-TEX
35L, Carry-On Size, Hip Belt, Ice Axe / Pole Loops, Hydration Compatible
Water-resistant, Insulated, Adjustable Drawcord Hem
Aluminum, Adjustable with Lever Lock System, 21 oz.
Waterproof, Adjustable, Insulated, GORE-TEX
Waterproof, Cushioned, Insulated
Waterproof, Breathable, Lightweight, Abrasion-resistant
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.