White River Snowshoe

white river west sno-park mt hood

Mt. Hood from the White River West Sno-Park

Instead of baking all Christmas Eve day, Steve, our friend Angie and I decided to head up to the mountain for some winter fun and I was only minimally harassed when I showed up to Christmas Eve dinner without pumpkin cheesecake. We were on a bit of a time crunch, so we decided on the White River trail because of it’s accessibility, shortness of the hike, and killer views of Mt. Hood. Apparently everyone else had the same idea because the Sno-Park was packed with families and their furry friends sledding, snowshoeing and cross country skiing. There was also a mountain rescue going on the same day because three people had gotten lost while snowshoeing to a cabin two days prior. The group was thankfully found before the day was over.

Quick Stats

Distance: 3 miles roundtrip to the power lines; longer options abound (we hiked about a 1/2 mile passed the power lines and had a beautiful view of Mt. Hood and the Meadows chair lift)

Time: 2 hours

Difficulty: Easy-moderate to the power lines (beginning elevation ~4200 feet) on ungroomed trails

Season: December-March

Dog Friendly: yes, in fact our dogs got spoiled with attention and were complimented for being so well behaved :)

Pros: great views of Mt. Hood; relatively easy; tons of sledding hills

Cons: busy, busy, busy

white river mt hood

The view from the parking lot was beautiful too

From the parking lot you follow the masses along a road/path along the river and passed several sledding hills, one of which you actually hike up…and would be a total pain on cross country skis. This sledding hill is really the most difficult part of the snowshoe and you probably won’t even notice yourself huffing and puffing as you watch all of the tubers flying by.

white river sledding

The sledding hill and most challenging part of the snowshoe.

Continue along, either on the trail or off, if you prefer, until you reach the power lines that power Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort. If you turn around at the power lines you will have completed about a 3 mile roundtrip. For more fun, continue further up the hill toward the mountain…you will be rewarded with amazing views of Mount Hood.

white river autumn and steve

Stopping for a break and a photo.

On the way down Angie decided to give Sal a great big hug…so we took another picture.

white river angie and sal

Hugs!!!

The parking lot was still very full with families out having Christmas Eve fun and with the volunteers, medical teams, and sheriffs department that were out looking for the lost snowshoers. Just makes you realize how important it is to be prepared and to pack the 10 Essentials.

white river rescue

Portland Mountain Rescue, new trucks and the “entire” Hood River Sheriffs department were all still on the mountain when we were heading out.

We really can’t wait till we get to go snowshoeing again…hopefully it will be sooner rather than later.

A note about snowshoes: Steve and I have both been using the MSR Evo Snow Shoes
and they rock. They get awesome traction and just the right amount of “float” and they even have “tails” that you can add on if you need some extra lift. Bottom line…they rock and they aren’t nearly as expensive as some of the others. We also added a couple extra strap bindings to ours, so now they are super secure and never come undone. If you just want to try out snowshoeing rentals are usually super cheap…usually about ten bucks a day.

Don’t forget your Sno-Park pass!!!

Resources

Directions and Sno Park info

 

Five Mile Butte Fire Lookout Snowshoe

five mile butte lookout

The lookout was super cozy and we loved having a wood stove….

Activity: Snowshoe or cross country ski

Distance: 6 miles roundtrip

Time: couple of hours each way

Difficulty: moderate

Season: December to April (booking season is a little longer)

Dog Friendly: Yes, the fire lookout is exposed and the stairs are steep…Jedi cried the first couple of times going up and down the stairs…so we had to drag and/or carry him. Eventually he got it.

Pros: You’re out in the middle of nowhere, snowshoeing, sledding, wood stove, 1 bed + 1 cot, some utensils provided, firewood provided, easy to navigate to

Cons: No electricity, no running water, going out to the vault toilet when it’s below freezing, shorter season due to lower elevation

mountains peeking through the clouds

A couple mountains peaking through the clouds on the road up to Five Mile Butte fire lookout.

To get to the fire lookout it’s a 3 mile hike along a road that begins across from the Billy Bob Sno-Park. The lookout sits at 4,627 feet and when it’s not cloudy there are some great mountain and forest views along the way.

five mile butte break

Taking a break on the road up to the fire lookout.

As the hike is a solid three mile uphill trek we stopped for a couple of breaks along the way. In early December, when we went, there wasn’t a ton of snow, but it was definitely icy and we were happy we brought our Black Diamond Trekking Poles and MSR Snowshoes.

five mile butte access road

View of the access road from the lookout.

We made it!!! The lookout sits about 40 feet off the ground and has some pretty steep and narrow stairs. We were happy to have the wood stove because the temperature was dropping fast and we wanted to melt some snow to make warm drinks. My Sorel Pac Boots boots were super comfy and warm….no cold toes for me.

frozen tree at five mile butte lookout

Pretty frozen tree reminds me of the holidays

We spent most of the evening reading over the old guestbooks, chatting, and drinking spiked apple cider and hot cocoa. The lookout stayed toasty all night long and we all slept great.

five mile butte sledding

We found a beat up plastic sled in the wood shelter and took advantage of the icy conditions.

We found a sled in the wood shed and had to get a couple of good runs in before we headed out for the day. The dogs were a little freaked out by it…but we had a great time!!!

five mile butte sledding steve

Super slick sledding….thank goodness for the sports setting on my camera!!!

five_mile_jedi

Jedi rocking his ice beard after our hike back down from the lookout.

Back at the Sno-Park we finished off the last of our hot chocolate…that was still piping hot after all of our sledding and the hike out. The dogs stayed toasty with their packs layered over their winter jackets and were rewarded for all of their hard work with some treats when we got back to the car.