Elevation Gain
1,900.00 ft (579.12 m)
Trail type
9.00 mi (14.48 km)
Warming hut
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If you are looking to snowshoe or cross-country ski in a beautiful and secluded lake basin during even the worst avalanche conditions, Kelcema Lake is for you. While certainly not remote, Kelcema Lake is a worthy winter destination and a great workout that provides a sense of accomplishment during those meager months when few trailheads are accessible. Though the majority of the route winds mildly up a forest service road, you can count on peace and quiet through to the spring snow-melt thanks to seasonal restrictions that allow for non-motorized recreation only.

The winter trailhead is located directly off the Mountain Loop Highway where Deer Creek Road begins and the plowed pavement ends. After gearing up, make your way past the occasionally crowded sledding area through the open gate. You immediately become wrapped in thick second-growth forest while warming up for the first mile before catching an open glimpse of Bald Mountain looming further up the valley. Continue above Deer Creek for another mile past a gated road that leads to the 300-acre Bonanza Queen Mine property, which was purchased from the Auker family in 2000 by the U.S. Forest Service to preserve critical salmon habitat.

The next 2 miles provide some steeper elevation gain and increasingly grand views of jagged Devils Peak to the east and Big Four Mountain and Sperry and Vesper peaks down the valley to the south. At 4 miles from your vehicle, a bridge leads over Deer Creek to the open Kelcema Lake summer trailhead. Exit the road here into a meadow while staying to the right of Deer Creek. The hiking corridor will be obvious at times, passing by several burley trees as it leads up to the creek outlet and lake basin. The eastern (and conveniently closest) shore offers many lovely open spaces for taking in the scenery. A massive snow-covered boulder on the north shore can be safely climbed for fun views back toward the mouth of the basin.  

Note: Stay alert for holes and unstable snow when traveling near creek beds.

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

Cushioned, Made in USA, Ultralight, 98.8 oz

Men's • $299.95 • MSR | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Women's • $299.95 • MSR | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Jacket/Shell: Arc'teryx Zeta AR Jacket

Waterproof, Adjustable Drawcord Hem, Pit Zips, GORE-TEX

Men's • $431-475 • Arc'teryx | Amazon | Backcountry

Women's • $475 • Arc'teryx | Amazon | Backcountry

Pack: Mammut Nirvana Pro Pack 

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

Standard Fit • $189.95-199.95 • Mammut | Amazon | Backcountry

Small Fit • $199.95 • Mammut | Amazon

Insulating Layer: Moosejaw Dequindre Down Jacket

Water-resistant, Insulated, Adjustable Drawcord Hem

Men's and Women's • $179

Poles: Black Diamond Traverse Pole 

Aluminum, Adjustable with Lever Lock System, 21 oz.

$79.95 • Black Diamond | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Gloves: The North Face GORE-TEX Gloves

Waterproof, Adjustable, Insulated, GORE-TEX

Men's • $99.95-181.63 • The North Face | Amazon | Backcountry

Women's • $99.95-100.00 • The North Face | Backcountry

Boots: Vasque Snowblime UltraDry Boot

Waterproof, Cushioned, Insulated

Men's • $149.99 • Vasque | Amazon | Backcountry

Women's • $149.99 • Vasque | Amazon | Backcountry

Gaiters: Outdoor Research Verglas Gaiter 

Waterproof, Breathable, Lightweight, Abrasion-resistant

Men's • $41.32-65 • Outdoor Research | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Women's • $49.95-65 • Outdoor Research | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Not Required


Non-motorized recreation. Old mining area. Frozen lake basin.


Sometimes crowded at the trailhead.

Pets allowed


Trailhead Elevation

1,240.00 ft (377.95 m)


Big vistas
Cross-country skiing

Typically multi-day


Groomed trail



Nearby Lodging + Camping


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