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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)

Features

Snowshoeing
Big vistas
Old-growth forest

Trail type

There-and-back

Typically multi-day

No

Location

Field Guide + Map

Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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

Comments

12/03/2016
Great snowshoe adventure! With the early snowpack this year the trail was perfect. The only downside is the trek from the Ski Bowl parking lot to the trailhead, not very scenic. Made new friends while sipping whiskey on the edge of the snow-covered lake basking in the sunshine after a workout going up the hill to the lake. Also managed to bust one of my new snowshoes, thank god for the REI return policy.
12/14/2013
The hope was to snowshoe up to Mirror Lake but there wasn't enough snow yet, so hiking it was. The trail to the lake was just a little slippery, more so on the way down, but the trip was easy and the view of Mount Hood from the lake was beautiful. We decided not to extend the trip up to Tom, Dick and Harry, so after a quick trip around the lake we headed back to our car.

Although by rule you aren't allowed to park at the trailhead in winter, many people were parked there. To avoid the risk of a ticket, we walked down from the Ski Bowl West parking area. The trip along the highway was easy (with dog in tow) and a guardrail protects you from traffic most of the way.
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