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Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
7.40 mi (11.91 km)
Warming hut
Yes
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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.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

Sno-Park Parking Permit (required in OR + WA 11.01 thru 04.30)

Pros

Great views. Solitude.

Cons

Long day trip.

Pets allowed

Allowed

Trailhead Elevation

3,822.00 ft (1,164.95 m)

Net Elevation Gain

2,950.00 ft (899.16 m)

Features

Big vistas
Cross-country skiing
Shelters
Lodging
Warming hut

Location

Field Guide + Map

Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Comments

04/15/2017
This was a spectacular trail! One of my best experiences in Oregon so far and breathtaking views at the top. I made it to the Tilly Jane A-frame in just my micro-spikes, since most of the lower trail was extremely packed. Switched to snowshoes for the rest of the day from there. The Cooper Spur trail was tough to find after leaving the warming hut, due to the many ski and snowboard paths. You could probably follow those successfully, but I opted to use my GPS and stick to the 'marked trail.'

The climb was tough and the clouds kept the mountain locked up for much of the trip. But as I approached the rock shelter, the clouds broke and Mt. Hood was there in all her majesty. After enjoying some lunch near the rock shelter, I saw some other folks slogging up toward the summit of Cooper Spur. In the end, they snowboarded back down before reaching the top. I was determined to make it, though. This last part of the hike was one of the toughest I've ever done -- 1700 feet seemingly straight up in under 2 miles. I couldn't go for much more than a few minutes before pausing to rest and then continue on again. Maybe the altitude, maybe the steepness? My snowshoes provided good traction, though I was nervous at times. Here's a good section to pop up the heel-raise bar on your snowshoes. Wish I would have remembered earlier!

The clouds gathered around the rock shelter, but they stayed down there the entire time, giving me glorious view of Mt. Hood during this last section. The trek was also completely wind free and warm(!). That is, until I poked my head over the summit. A stiff winter wind embraced me immediately. The views stretched before me and the sky was nearly cloudless. It seems the wind kept all the clouds to the northwest side of the mountain. I'll take the clouds over the wind on the ascent! Wow, was it cold! But looking up at that peak from this elevation, just 2750 feet from the summit, was an awesome experience. This is something we don't have back east!

5.5 hours up, 2.5 hours down. Elevation gain of about 4700 feet. Bring sunblock! Those reflections are brutal.
01/20/2016
Hey Jon! Long time no see-- that Adams trip was in 2009, no? Thanks for the feedback-- I did in fact mean Timberline Trail-- and it looks like the post has been updated to reflect this. We certainly appreciate it. It's best to have good information.

I check in on your work whenever I recognize your name in print! Hope you're doing well-- hope to catch up out on trail again one of these days!
Sorry to nitpick, Andrew, (pretty sure you and I met a few years ago up on Mount Adams when you were climbing it in running shoes and I wrote about it in the Oregonian!) but it was the Civilian Conservation Corps and this particular shelter is not a stop for travelers on the PCT. The PCT is a ways west of here. This shelter is along the Timberline Trail on the north/northeast side of the mountain and does make a decent stop for travelers along that route. (It's actually still pretty stout and would offer a decent respite from the elements...)
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