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Groomed trail?
No
Elevation Gain
?
Distance
4.80 mi (7.72 km)
Warming hut
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Though Mirror Lake is accessible all year, there are some good arguments to be made for why winter is the best season for a visit.  The crowds that access this lake in the warmer seasons are significantly reduced to a few snowshoers and the occasional skier.  Likewise, it would be uncommon to encounter campers around the lake in winter. Any traces of the heavy use the area receives in the summer are blanketed in snow, giving this popular site a more remote and pristine appearance. Finally, there are the stunning, close-up winter views of Mount Hood to the north and Tom Dick and Harry Mountain to the south.

In the fall of 2018, winter access to Mirror Lake was rerouted via a new trailhead at Skibowl West Sno-Park. Prior access required a drab commute from the car to the trailhead, but this is no longer the case. Park at the Skibowl West Sno-Park and begin the trail at the adjacent trailhead.

In no time you'll find yourself in the middle of a dense collection of western red cedar, western hemlock and Douglas fir, and the roar of the highway will quickly fade away. The trail crosses a small creek and proceeds to climb through a few switchbacks and gentler sections before meeting the lake in a little more than a mile. Most of the trail is in thick woods, but there are a few clearings for views to the west. 

This is a great intermediate trail, as the climbs and distance are challenging but not overwhelming on snowshoes, depending on the conditions. It's easy to complete a rewarding snowshoe trip to the lake, a leisurely appreciation of the scenery, and quick downhill return, all in the span of a half-day. The trail is a little steep and narrow for a comfortable ski, however, so opt for snowshoes if you can. Keep in mind that early sections of the hike are best traveled with microspikes, conditions depending, and keep the snowshoes for later sections and deeper snows. And don’t let the easy access lull you into complacency; always check your backcountry avalanche conditions before heading out.

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.

Logistics + Planning

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

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

Pros

Close to Portland. Great views. Short trail distance.

Cons

Crowds.

Trailhead Elevation

3,525.00 ft (1,074.42 m)

Net Elevation Gain

725.00 ft (220.98 m)

Address

Mirror Lake Trail #664
Rhododendron, OR 97049
United States

Features

Snowshoeing
Big vistas
Old-growth forest

Trail type

There-and-back

Typically multi-day

No

Location

Field Guide + Map

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Oregon, Mt. Hood + Clackamas River Area
Mt. Hood + Clackamas River Area, Oregon
Oregon, Mt. Hood + Clackamas River Area

Comments

Thanks Jonathan! We've updated the adventure.
01/27/2019
The mirror lake trail was realigned in Fall 2018, so that there is no longer any walk along the highway. Park right at the nice new trailhead which is adjacent to skibowl West.

Recommend bringing microspikes as well as snowshoes in the winter and assessing conditions at the trailhead. Beyond mirror lake there was some deeper snow, but the trail to the lake was mostly a sheet of ice and snowshoes were not the best tool for the job.
06/26/2017
This was our first time to Mirror Lake Trailhead. I was a little skeptical going at first, given all the reviews of how many people come here. The parking was full at the trailhead, so we parked over at Ski Bowl, no biggie. You do come across people here and there on the trail,. but for the most part we were hiking alone. Most of the trail is a climb up a switchback, but it wasn't too bad. My kids are 9, 10 and 13 and we all did just fine. Once you get to the lake, so peaceful. We packed a lunch and ate beside the lake. I thought the view of Mt Hood would have been better at the lake. Maybe from the other side it would have been better. I would recommend this trail !! I would have loved to gone even further to Tom Dick & Harry MTN but my kids were getting tired. Another days exploration.
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