Stats: 5 miles roundtrip; Approx. 1800 feet elevation gain
Area: Mt. Hood
Starting point: White River West Sno-Park
The route will start at the northeast corner of the White River West Sno-Park. For the first 0.4 miles you will travel along a nearly flat path that runs along the White River valley. You will then reach a treeless slope, known as “The bowl”, that climbs steeply for approximately 200 yards. Enjoy the views of Mt. Hood and then continue on through the open lodgepole forest. The route will curve around the top of “The Bowl”, eventually reaching a “T” junction. At this point, you will want to turn right (north) and follow the trail uphill. This section is well-marked with silver diamonds all the way to the lower viewpoint. One thing you may also noticed while travelling along this part of the route, is a usually well-defined nordic ski track, that you will want to try to stay off of as common courtesy.
At the 1.6 mile mark, the route will drop into a shallow ravine, until finally at the 1.8 mile mark, you will reach the lower viewpoint. This is an exceptional spot to end the trek for beginning snowshoers or families, or for those just looking to avoid the elevation gain that comes from the upper viewpoint. The lower viewpoint offers up spectacular views of Mount Hood and the White River canyon, and a nearby play-slope for kids.
If you choose to continue to the upper viewpoint head straight up the steep edge of the tree line on Boy Scout Ridge, to the west. After reaching the top (a 200 foot climb), continue along the broad ridge and enjoy views of Mount Hood and the broad White River Canyon. The ridge will eventually narrow and you will want to make sure to stay clear of both the White River and Salmon River canyon rims, as both are precipitous and have the potential for blind cornices and are prone to avalanches. You will reach the upper viewpoint at approximately 2.5 miles. After enjoying the views of the Salmon River Canyon and Timberline lodge (on your left) and White River Canyon (on your right), simply go back the way you came to reach the Sno-Park.
For those who are interested in snowshoeing but don’t own snowshoes, there are a couple of great shops you can stop at that are located in Sandy: Ottos Ski & Mountain Bike and Meadowlark Ski & Snowboard.
Driving Directions: To reach the White River West Sno-Park, drive US-26 to the highway 35 junction. The White River West Sno-Park will be on the left. The Sno-Park includes a year-round restroom at the forested west side. Park near the north edge for easy access to the snow trails.
Additional resources: Oregon Hikers Field Guide