I love downhill skiing as much as the next powder hound. The thrill of the steeps, bumps and tree skiing are a welcome annual adrenaline rush. But I look forward to cross-country skiing just as much. It’s a slower, social pastime and a great workout. In the Mt. Hood area, there are cross-country ski trails for all levels, from beginner to expert. Here are some ideas to get you started.
This 6-mile trail off of Highway 35 and Forest Service Road 44 is a popular mountain bike ride in the summer and an excellent ski trail in winter. The loop offers a gradual climb and tops out at the Five Mile Butte fire lookout, yielding great views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams. This is a good trail for intermediate to experience skiers. Contact the Barlow Ranger District for information.
For a family- and beginner-friendly trail, this lake loop near Timberline Lodge can’t be beat. It’s 4.4 miles round-trip from the Trillium Sno-Park or 3.6 miles from the Trillium Access Hill. Other than the access hill (which beginners should walk down), this loop is relatively flat and scenic. It circles the petite lake, crosses a meadow and offers a lovely look at Mt. Hood. Contact the Zigzag Ranger District for more information.
If you’re up for a challenge, the Tilly Jane Trail makes a great ski day. Gaining more than 2,000 feet, it will challenge your heart and lungs on the way up and your balance on the way down. The trail leaves the Tilly Jane Sno-Park and climbs through the trees to the Tilly Jane Guard Station and campground. About half a mile further, find the Cloud Cap Inn and Snowshoe Club Hut. For more information, contact the Hood River Ranger District.
The above routes are not maintained or groomed in winter, so conditions will vary. That’s part of the fun. If you are looking for more predictable trails, check out the Mt. Hood Meadows Nordic Center or nearby Teacup Lake Nordic, which are groomed frequently. Happy skiing!