Mount Hood is an amazing place to go any time of the year. In winter most people go to visit the downhill skiing resorts, me included, but that's just one of many reasons to make your way to Oregon's most prominent peak. Here are a number of other ways to get your powder fix just an hour's drive from Portland.
Mount Hood is home to five ski resorts. The largest are Mt. Hood Meadows and Timberline, followed by Skibowl, Cooper Spur Mountain Resort and the very small Summit Ski Area. Together they provide access to the mountain's incredible terrain with beginner, intermediate and expert runs at each resort.
There are so many amazing places to cross-country ski or snowshoe at Mount Hood. Popular destinations include Trillium Lake, Teacup, Pocket Creek, and the groomed trails at Mount Hood Meadows. The Crosstown Trail outside of Government Camp is also easily accessible and means you can go straight to the brewery for a beer after you pull off the snowshoes at the end of the day.
There are many great sledding options on the flanks of Mount Hood including the tubing hill at Snow Bunny and on the lower portions of White River West Sno-Park. You can even bring your tubes and sleds to Trillium Lake.
Built in 1937 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, Timberline Lodge is an internationally renowned destination worth visiting in any season. In the winter you can reserve a room to enjoy dinner, drinks and an amazing hot tub soak and then strap on your skis and spend a day at Timberline's ski resort.
A number of hard-to-reserve huts and fire lookouts are available on Mount Hood, including the Barlow Ridge and Barlow Butte huts and the Fivemile Butte Lookout Tower. Near Cooper Spur, a spot at Tilly Jane A-Frame can also be reserved in the winter. They offer limited amenities, but you can ski or snowshoe into them and spend a night with friends at an amazing destination.
While most of Mount Hood's accessible spots get crowded on winter weekends, a few places offer a bit more tranquility and solitude. Consider seeking out one of the more secluded areas where you'll find powder footstep free. Some favorites are the snowshoe to Tilly Jane, which can be extended to Cloud Cap Inn through the snowed-in Cloud Cap Campground, or the trail toward Ramona Falls along the Sandy River, which also gets snowed in during the winter.
The trail into Tamanawas Falls remains accessible in the winter. When temperatures dip below zero, this impressive waterfall transforms from a raging torrent to an icicle-dripping wonder.
Although not commonly known as a backcountry and sidecountry destination, there are opportunities to earn your turns at a few great spots. Tom Dick and Harry Mountain is a popular place for backcountry skiing, and other options include Newton Clark Moraine, also known as the Ridge Between, and Gunsight Ridge just east of Pocket Creek.
Mount Hood is most commonly climbed in the early summer months as snows melt and days get longer, but it can be climbed year round. Mountaineers can wait for the right conditions to make the climb between the incessant winter storms and when the avalanche conditions allow for a safe route to the summit.
I've had those lazy winter days where all I want to do is sit in a lodge or brewpub in front of a fire and watch the snow fall outside. Luckily there are some amazing places to do this up on Mount Hood. Consider stopping at the Blue Ox Bar at Timberline Lodge, grabbing a burger and beer at Mt. Hood Brewing Company in Government Camp, sitting by the fireplace at Skyway Bar & Grill in Zigzag, or enoying the delicious beers from Solera Brewery in Parkdale.
Mount Hood National Forest makes for a great place to cut your own Christmas tree. One of the best options is to take Lolo Pass Road beneath the power lines where the opening allows for smaller trees to grow fuller than their siblings in the denser forest. You'll need to pick up a $5 permit at a Ranger Station or other participating vendor to cut your own, and make sure you are harvesting your tree only where permissible.
Zigzag, Rhododendron, Government Camp and Parkdale are all just a short drive from the many trailheads and resorts on Mount Hood, and they have some of cozy cabins with a big fireplace or wood burning stove that are generally nestled beneath Douglas fir trees and often come with a hot tub right outside. Airbnb, Vacasa, and Mt. Hood Vacation Rentals are a few great options to peruse to find the perfect cabin for a weekend getaway.