Ski season is upon us!
Cross country skiers will be hitting the trails all around Mount Hood this week to enjoy the fresh snow and winter temperatures.
Nordic clubs are leading trips to Bennett Pass, Tilly Jane Trail and other high-elevation destinations in the Mount Hood National Forest, and groomers are working hard at Mt. Hood Meadows and Teacup Lake to make the most of the recent snowfall.
The Oregon Nordic Club’s annual winter sports fair takes place Wednesday night in Portland, and the first Nordic race of the season is scheduled for this coming Saturday, December 7 at Meadows.
In early December Teacup and Meadows are the best options on Mount Hood for high-speed skate skiing on groomed trails that do not allow snowshoeing or snowmobiling.
Teacup Lake Nordic Area is located one mile south of Mt. Hood Meadows on the east side of Highway 35. It has 20 kilometers of groomed runs, a day use cabin for warming up, and sheltered rest rooms. It is managed and maintained by the Teacup Lake Nordic Club, a chapter of the Oregon Nordic Club. Teacup Club member and skier Harold Fisher grooms the trails on Tuesdays, Thursdays and weekends and sends out regular bulletins on trail conditions through his Twitter account.
To cover grooming expenses that add up to about $2,000 per week, Teacup’s recommended donation is $10 for adults, $5 for skiers 11 and under and free to children under 6. You can get an individual season pass for $60 or a family pass for $100. For more info, click here.
Teacup also offers a youth skiing program for kids of varying ages and ability levels.
The Meadows Nordic Center has up to 15 kilometers of groomed runs and operates 9-4 Thursday through Monday. The track fees at Meadows are $15 for adults, $10 for juniors 12 and under, and $12 for seniors 65 and older. Meadows also offers skate skiing classes with former U.S. Biathalon team member Sam Cordell, two hours for $25.
Downhill from Meadows on the north side of Mount Hood, Cooper Spur has a 6.5 kilometer system of groomed trails, but its lower elevation has not yet allowed for skiing this season.
If you prefer skiing on ungroomed trails and don’t mind a few boot/snowshoe/dog tracks and the occasional snowmobile, pretty much any hiking trail in the national forest is open to cross country skiing in winter.
Popular destinations range from an easy jaunt along the Crosstown Trail in Government Camp to a grueling climb up the Tilly Jane Ski Trail to the base of Eliot Glacier.
Once the snow gets deeper, the rustic cabins near the ski trails of Trillium Lake also become a popular destination for ski-in, ski-out adventures. For more info about the Summit Meadow Cabins, click here.
Here are a few upcoming Nordic ski trips organized by local clubs:
Friday, December 6 to Tilly Jane (intermediate/advanced)
Saturday, December 7, to Bennett Pass (easy/intermediate)
Sunday, December 15, to Crosstown Trail (easy)
You can learn more about the Oregon Nordic Club’s chapters and how to join one by clicking here, or if you are in Portland, stop by the winter sports fair at 7688 SW Capitol Hill Highway between 6:15 and 8:45 pm Wednesday night, December 4.
If you like the idea of freeing your heel in the steeps to access backcountry terrain, you can learn telemark skiing or alpine touring through Wy'East Nordic or the Mazamas.
If cardiovascular intensity is your thing, there is quite a lineup of cross country ski races for 2013-14. Here’s a partial list:
December 7 at Meadows, 7.5K
December 18 at Cooper Spur, Night Sprint
January 4th at Meadows, 10K
January 11 at Meadows, 20K Pursuit (Skate and Classic)
January 15 at Cooper Spur, Night Sprint
January 26 at Teacup, 2.5K, 5K and 15K (All Classic, no Skating)
February 15 at Meadows, 20K
You can get details about the racing season from the Meadows Nordic and Teacup websites.
For uphill/downhill fanatics, Meadows plans to host its second annual Rams Head Randonee on May 18, 2014.
One more thing to remember: A Sno-Park parking permit is required for all cross country skiing within Mount Hood National Forest. And it has to be an Oregon permit, because Washington and Oregon are no longer sharing Sno-Park permits.