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Jared Kennedy | 12.17.2015

Mount Hood is the tallest point in Oregon, a short drive from Portland, and one of the easiest places to get outside in the winter. While most traffic goes to the ski resorts on the mountain's flanks, busy summer trails give way to snowshoeing and cross-country skiing routes. Some routes are so beautiful and accessible you should expect to share the trail with a number of other people. Others are quiet, and you'll likely have the place all to yourself. Scroll down to read through these 22 options for snowshoeing on Mount Hood. Find the right one for your group, or set a goal this winter to do them all.

Approaching Mount Hood via Sandy and Government Camp

As you climb in elevation from Sandy toward Government Camp, Highway 26 passes a number of Sno-Parks and backcountry snowshoeing trails. The Crosstown Trail and Enid Lake Loop offer easier options for anyone new to the sport. Other great options include the trail to Mirror Lake, Glacier View Loop and the loop around Trillium Lake, all of which bask in the beauty of Mount Hood's western flanks. All of these trails are shared with cross-country skiers, and in the case of Tom Dick and Harry Mountain, with downhill backcountry skiers and snowboarders. The Glade Trail just outside of Government Camp is also shared with sledders seeking easy, accessible fun in the snow.

Approaching Mount Hood from Hood River

From Hood River, Highway 35 heads south toward Mount Hood. Trails from this side are generally less crowded due to the longer drive from Portland, and they are absolutely spectacular. Both the Tilly Jane Trail and the route up Cloud Cap Road lead to Tilly Jane A-Frame and Cooper Spur, passing through an old burn area with spectacular views of Mount Hood and the other Cascade peaks. You can snowshoe along the Eastside and Westside trails as well as Heather Canyon at Mt. Hood Meadows. White River West also offers fun trails close by. Other great and less crowded places to snowshoe that provide spectacular Mount Hood views include the trip to the fire lookout atop Fivemile Butte, Pocket Creek, and Iron Creek. And don't miss the short snowshoe into Tamanawas Falls to see this spectacular waterfall when it's mostly frozen over.

South of the Highway 26 and Highway 35 Junction

The two main routes to Mount Hood converge on the south side of the mountain. Continuing south on Highway 26 past the junction takes you to more great destinations to snowshoe with magnificent views of Mount Hood on a clear day. Clear Lake Butte has options to reach a fire lookout or do a loop around the butte. Frog Lake and the route to Twin Lakes and Beaver Marsh Loop on Barlow Pass are also beautiful, but they can get busy on snowy weekend days.

Winter Safety and Leave No Trace

Keep in mind that winter backcountry adventures, including snowshoeing, 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.

And as you tromp through the snow, keep these Leave No Trace principles for winter recreation in mind. Challenge yourself and your friends to see who can remember and demonstrate the seven principles.

Recommended Gear

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:

Snowshoes: MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoe

Men's and Women's • $229.95 • Cushioned, Made in USA, Ultralight, 98.8 oz

Jacket/Shell: Arc'teryx Zeta AR Jacket

Men's and Women's • $475.00 • Waterproof, Adjustable Drawcord Hem, Pit Zips, GORE-TEX

Pack: Mammut Nirvana Pro Pack 

$189.95 • 35L, Carry-On Size, Hip Belt, Ice Axe / Pole Loops, Hydration Compatible

Insulating Layer: Moosejaw Dequindre Down Jacket

Men's and Women's • $134.25 • Water-resistant, Insulated, Adjustable Drawcord Hem

Poles: Black Diamond Traverse Pole 

$79.95 • Aluminum, Adjustable with Lever Lock System, 21 oz.

Gloves: The North Face GORE-TEX Gloves

Men's Powdercloud • $181.61 • Waterproof, Adjustable, Insulated, GORE-TEX

Boots: Vasque Snowblime UltraDry Boot

Men's and Women's • $149.95 • Waterproof, Cushioned, Insulated

Gaiters: Outdoor Research Verglas Gaiter 

Men's and Women's • $64.95 • Waterproof, Breathable, Lightweight, Abrasion-resistant

 

If you are snowshoeing into avalanche terrain, you should be prepared, equipped and educated on how to use avalanche rescue and snow safety gear - including but not limited to an avalanche beacon/transceiver, probe, and shovel.

Comments

hi we went snowshoeing up Bennett Pass today. Fabulous!
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