Our Favorite Mt Hood Winter Activities
Posted by Tiffany Quillan | Sunday, November 7, 2021
Every year, the first snow at Mt Hood brings a sense of excitement that seems to buzz through the crisp air. Favorite sweaters are pulled from the backs of closets, hot cocoa graces our mugs and cabins are lit by the cheery glow of dancing fireplaces. It's the season that celebrates our lap around the sun, and we must admit that we're feeling like 2020 deserves a big (comfortably distanced) celebration for our resilience.
There is always a great variety of fun activities to take part in each winter at Mt Hood. Our usual suspects made the list of things to do at Mt Hood in the winter, and we've promoted some lesser known activities for providing comfortably distanced fun. We hope you enjoy this winter season and find some time to celebrate our collective strength through what has been a very different year.
Pro Tip: Mt Hood is a very popular weekend destination. Consider planning a mid-week trip to enjoy smaller crowds, more space, and better rates on vacation rentals.
Things to do at Mt Hood in the Winter
#1 - Snow Play at Mt Hood
While snow play at Mt Hood is popular every year, it's getting some special recognition this year since it lends to comfortably distancing. Snow play includes some of our absolute favorite winter activities, like cross country skiing, snowshoeing and sledding. Our area is home to 22 sno-parks, and accessing them is easy! Please note that our Sno-Parks have a small fee for parking, and you can purchase a Sno-Park Permit for a single day, three consecutive days or an annual permit through Mt Hood Vacation Rentals. Plus, there's no need to haul your own gear to Mt Hood - get all the details on renting equipment for winter sports in our guide.
Suggested Cross County Skiing Trails at Mt Hood
- Bennett Pass (5.1 miles - moderate out-and-back ski trail with thrills when crossing the "Terrible Traverse")
- Tea Cup Lake Nordic Center (12 miles of groomed trails - known as some of the best cross country skiing; note: no dogs or snowshoes permitted)
- Yellowjacket Trail Area (5 miles - for expert skiers, crosses the Salmon River)
- Mt Hood Meadows Nordic Center (9 miles of groomed trails - beautiful views of the woods and meadows; note: no dogs or snowshoes permitted)
- Crosstown Trail (5.6 miles - parallels the village of Government Camp on the north side from Enid Lake to Summit Ski Hill; several other trails intersect with the Crosstown Trail)
- Barlow Pass, Twin Lakes and Frog Lake (20+ miles, ski as little or as much as you have energy to do, starting at Barlow Pass Sno-Park or Frog Lake Sno-Park)
Suggested Snowshoeing Trails at Mt Hood
- Pocket Creek (6 miles - gently rolling track on forest roads with wide open views, forests and creek crossings)
- White River Trail (3.4 miles - beautiful views of Mt Hood, regularly trafficked, however there is lots of room to spread out)
- Summit Trail (4 miles - nice views of Mt Hood and relatively unobstructed the whole time)
- Skiway Trail (1.2 miles out and back, however this trail connects with several other trails for up to 10 or more miles of adventuring)
- Lower & Upper Twin Lakes via PCT (5.7 miles - the lower lake sees less traffic)
- Frog Lake Butte (6 miles - excellent views of Mt Hood and a more difficult trail)
Check out the full list of places to cross-country ski and snowshoe at Mt Hood.
#2 - Sledding, Tubing and Snow Play
If you think sledding, tubing and building a snowman are just for the kiddos we invite you to think again. You can (and should) enjoy these activities at every age. Sliding down a fluffy hill in an inner tube will put the biggest smile on your face, and we won't blame you if there are a few snowballs thrown in the mix. These are all great activities for social distancing since you can bring your own sled or use the same tube. Remember to respect the snow play areas and haul out what you haul in (especially your sleds)!
Sledding and Tubing Hills at Mt Hood
- Cosmic Tubing (tube hill at Mt Hood Skibowl with lights, music and themed innertubes; pre-paid advanced reservations required this season)
- White River West Sno-Park (bring your own sleds and innertubes; large parking lot and lots of wide open spaces for sledding and tubing)
- Snow Bunny Sno-Park (bring your own sleds and innertubes; hike up and slide down)
- Cooper Spur (tube hill at the small ski area on the north side of Mt Hood; tubes are included with ticket price)
#3 - Skiing & Snowboarding
With five different skiing and snowboarding areas, it's no wonder that Mt Hood is adored for its downhill action. Our ski areas are taking extra COVID-specific precautions in alignment with the National Ski Areas Association's Ski Well, Be Well Program this year. While our ski areas are still finalizing plans, it's important to note that most are leaning towards a reservation system with limited capacity. Please be sure to check the ski area websites before you plan your trip, so that you are prepared with alternative activities to keep the whole family entertained.
#4 - Climbing Mt Hood in the Winter
For the very adventurous (and experienced) climbing Mt Hood in the winter is possible. There is a lot of gear required - and you need to be certain the conditions are favorable - but it's a big accomplishment. In order to climb Mt Hood in the winter you should have adequate gear, like an ice axe, crampons, ropes and avalanche rescue gear. You should be very experienced at alpine mountaineering and path finding.
#5 - Indoor Fun at Mt Hood
Find the right cabin and you won't be disappointed with your options for indoor fun at Mt Hood this winter. Choose a cabin with a fireplace to play board games by, or just cozy up with a glass of wine and a good book. Test your skills in the kitchen and plan a mini soup-off competition with the family. Stay in a lodge with a hot tub and dare the kids to make a snow angel before hopping in to warm up. Make snow cones for an after-dinner treat or build a family of snowmen.
Driving to Mt Hood in the Winter
There is something mystical about driving through Mt Hood in the winter - tall trees are covered in blankets of fluffy snow that seems to sparkle in the sunlight. While beautiful, it should not be forgotten that these are mountain roads which you need to be prepared for. You'll want four wheel drive or all wheel drive and snow chains or snow tires. You'll also want to bring an emergency kit with all the essentials just in case you get stuck. Be sure to pack blankets, extra food and water, a snow shovel and a snow scraper. You can learn more about winter driving conditions at Mt Hood and more about Mt Hood during the winter in general in our winter guide.
Mt Hood Winter Cabin Rentals
Mt Hood offers a beautiful selection of cabin rentals to call basecamp while you're here. This winter, more than ever, it's important to find a cozy rental with all the amenities you'll need for an extended stay. Our cabin rentals have amenities like fireplaces, hot tubs, gorgeous views and full kitchens. Most are pet-friendly, so your canine family member can join you for your winter vacation. In fact, each of our cabin rentals includes a crockpot so you can come home to a warm meal after a day of snow play. Browse our cabin rentals and start planning your winter trip to Mt Hood today!
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