The beauty of Trillium Lake and the expansive view of Mount Hood is not what you would expect from a snowshoeing route so close to the highway. It is magical in the stillness of snow covered trees and frozen lakes. The lake is surrounded by evergreen trees covered in snow with the view of the impressive mountain in the background. It is hard to find somewhere to snowshoe that is this picturesque.
What Makes It Great
Trillium Lake is one of the best-known routes by Mount Hood for snowshoers and cross country skiers alike. It is a suitable trail for anyone, no matter the experience level. It is just over an hour away from Portland, conveniently right off the highway, and yields one of the most spectacular views of Mount Hood in the area. There is a request for donations. This can give the snowshoers a sense of ownership and community, which sometimes is lacking during such a busy time of year.
The grand view of Mount Hood opens up just 2 miles from the trailhead, if you decide to start by going straight on the loop trail. While on this trail, the snowshoer is surrounded by evergreen trees layered with snow. The peaceful quiet that is found in any snow covered area is not in short supply here, even though it is so close to the road. It is a quick and easy escape in the winter from the generally rainy and sometimes noisy city.
Who is Going to Love It
The trail around Trillium Lake is a snow-covered road, which makes it accessible for all levels of snowshoers. There is an initial dip in the trail at the start, but there is very little elevation gain or loss on this trail. It can be a 5-mile loop, which makes it a great route for beginners or a short, easy day for more experienced snowshoers. If you want to make it a longer day, there are several smaller, off-shoot trails that are surprisingly well-signed. These trails are not crowded, though this beautiful loop tends to be very well traveled by snowshoers and cross country skiers alike, especially on the weekends.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
To get to Trillium Lake from Portland, take Highway 26 toward Government Camp. Trillium Lake is located across the street from the Snow Bunny Lodge. Park in the provided lot and take the wide road, while being careful to not trample to cross country ski tracks. A Sno-Park pass is required. This route is best from December through March. Navigating on this trail is simple and starts right off the parking area. The loop junction is encountered after about a half mile on the wide trail. Most people continue straight and come across the beautiful view of Mount Hood in about 2 miles.
After passing the Trillium Lake Campground, you will pass Mud Creek Ridge Road, which is an 8-mile loop option that provides expansive and breath-taking views of the area, along with another incredible view of Mount Hood. If you do not want to extend your loop, continue straight and after the viewpoint, cross the dam to continue the loop around the lake. Head toward the Westside divide and bear right for Summit Meadows, which is another scenic spot, as if the last one was not enough. Bear right after Summit Meadows and continue the last half-mile to complete the route.