Updated: Oct 26, 2021
Craving snow this summer? You don’t have to be pursuing World Cup dreams to enjoy the summer-skiing experience at Timberline Ski Area in Mount Hood, Oregon. Hood offers an underrated adventure for anyone craving snow during the summer months. Elsie Halvorsen, a college racer and Mt. Hood veteran, shares 7 tips to make the most of a summer visit to Mt. Hood.
*Mt. Hood closed for the summer skiing season on August 15, but head to tips 6 and 7 for other fun things to do in the area this month. Hint - mountain biking, hiking, Cannon Beach.
Images courtesy of Timberline Lodge, Mt. Hood, Oregon.
Located an hour from Portland, Oregon, Mount Hood is a picturesque glacier-covered volcano, best known as the second most climbed mountain in the world. It is also an iconic destination for American skiers. Timberline, located on the south face of Mount Hood, is open for skiing all twelve months of the year. Specific dates are dependent on seasonal snowmelt, make sure to check their conditions report before going.
During the winter, Timberline has 3,690 vertical feet and 1,415 acres of skiable terrain. The elevation from the top of the Palmer lift is 8,540 feet. Views from the top include Mount Jefferson, Three Sister, and Mount Bachelor to the south, and on clear days you can see all the way to the western coastline of Oregon. Depending on the snow year summer month, the skiing may be expansive or can be reduced to a single lift — the Palmer Lift. Fun fact, the Palmer Lift is closed during the winter because it becomes buried in snow throughout the season. Fortunately, the Palmer Lift has a mid-station that enables skiing on the Palmer Glacier throughout the summer.Most American racers and freestyle skiers spend between one and four weeks a summer at Mt. Hood. Some are visiting for the first time as young as 10 years. Recreational skiers should not be deterred by the presence of these young athletes. Here are 7 tips so that you too can enjoy summer time snow at Timberline Lodge.
1) Time your day right. The Palmer Lift opens at 7am, but the snow can be frozen and the slopes tend to be more crowded with camp athletes. Training camps tend to wrap up by 11am, leaving the mountain quieter for the duration of the day. For a relaxed experience, head out around 9am, when the racers have retreated, the snow has softened, and the sun is blazing. The lifts spin until 2pm, so you should have plenty of time.
2) Bring your Hawaiian shirts and sunscreen and hit the freestyle training center. Baseball hats, tank tops, and Hawaiian shirts are common for the Portland day-tripper or group of college friends. Sunscreen is a must with the warm sun reflecting off of the snow. Head over to the freestyle training center to check out the full-size half pipe, rail yard, and jumps.
3) Consider a season pass. Day passes are pricey at $89, but a season pass pays off in ~11 days if you plan to go for a longer time.
4) Stay at nearby Government Camp. While day trips are common from Portland, many visitors enjoy staying in Government Camp, about 15 minutes from the base. You can also try your luck at the historical Timberline Lodge, but The Shining was filmed there, so enter at your own risk!
5) Favorite Places to Grab a Bite.
Iconic Diner: Huckleberry Inn
This institution located in the heart of Government Camp has been serving Huckleberry shakes and maple bars since 1966. Stopping in is a must!
Grab a Beer with the Locals: Charlie’s Mountain View
Located in Government Camp, Charlie's is our favorite spot to stop for a beer and sports game after a day of skiing or boarding.
6) Top Activities for the Outdoorsy.
Head to Mt. Hood Ski Bowl for off-snow adventures. Ski Bowl and the Adventure Park are funs spot to spend the afternoon. There are horseback rides, a Go-Kart track, downhill biking trails, ziplines, and other unique activities.
Hiking: There are several options for gorgeous hikes. The longest, Mirror Lake, is a 4.2 mile loop, Tamanawas Falls is 3.3 miles out and back and Trillium Lake is a 1.9-mile loop.
Mountain Biking at Timberline Bike Park: There are not too many places where you can ski in the morning and mountain bike in the afternoon — all at the same mountain resort. Ski the Palmer Lift in the morning and then enjoy Timberline Bike Park's lift-assist mountain bike park in the afternoon, open until 4pm.
7) Combine your Mt. Hood visit with adventurous day trips from Government Camp: Hood River & Cannon Beach. These adventures are fun if you plan to stay more than a few days.
Hood River, about a 50 minute drive from Government Camp, is known for windsurfing, kiteboarding, paddle boarding, and fishing. Head to Post Canyon for mountain biking, to watch the pros on the water, or just walk around town and enjoy the food and shopping. For breakfast or lunch, try Broder Øst, an authentic Scandinavian joint serving coffee drinks along with modern spinoffs of traditional foods like pancakes, potato crepes and Swedish meatballs. It is stylish, yet homey, delicious, and comes with stunning views of the Hood River.
Cannon Beach is a bigger trek, about 3 hours from Government Camp. However, it offers a totally different experience for the more adventurous. We love making the journey for a day of surfing and exploration. Local shops offer affordable surf rentals, and the geographic features Haystack Rock and the Needles have an accessible cave system for exploring.
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