Coming Full Circle at Mount Hood ABRUPTLY, the trail emerged from the forest to reveal a delicate meadow filled with purple and red flowers. Ablaze with color, it shimmered like an image in a kaleidoscope. To the left of the trail was an ice-fed lake; Mount Hood towered over us on the right. We were familiar with the sight, for we were hiking a loop around Mount Hood, and it loomed above us each time we emerged above timberline. But it is overwhelming at its cloudy worst and mesmerizing at its glorious best, offering a constantly unfolding view as we inched around (or so it seemed) and caught sight of new ravines, new glaciers, new peaks. I grew up in Oregon, with Mount Hood a constant presence on the horizon, but although I had backpacked widely in the area, there was one major trail I had never fully hiked: the Timberline Trail, which winds for 40 miles around the mountain. So last summer I remedied that, bringing along my wife and sons, then age 9 and 7. It had seemed roughly a four-day hike with children, but my wife, Sheryl, put her foot down: she would go for three days and no longer. So I redefined it as a three-day hike, meaning we would simply hike farther each day. Early one morning we drove to Timberline Lodge, a fabulous old ski lodge that was built by the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression. The work began in the spring of 1936, with 14 feet of snow on the ground, but the building was completed in just 15 months and was soon recognized as a masterpiece of mountain lodge construction. We left our car in the parking lot, put on our backpacks and began to walk clockwise around the mountain. Theoretically, the Timberline Trail follows timberline -- at about the 5,000-foot level -- around Mount Hood. In fact, it plunges with each ravine and then rises again to cross each ridge, so that a hiker can spend a morning traipsing through deep forests and the afternoon high on the mountain traversing barren moonscapes of snow and gravel. Though challenging enough for our party, the hike was not as potentially dangerous as scaling the summit. We spent the first morning mostly going down, down, down, before having lunch beside the sparkling (and aptly named) Zigzag River. Then we climbed steadily along switchbacks to pass through (equally apt) Paradise Park -- a lush series of mountain meadows, creeks and vistas just below the glaciers and snowfields. Then the trail plunged back into the forest, winding for several steep miles down to the Sandy River. The shallow river was only about 15 feet wide, and rangers had cut a tree down over it, so we slowly balanced our way across to the other side. In less than a mile we reached Ramona Falls, a delicate waterfall cascading down a series of rocks. Our older son wanted to press on, for there was another hour or two of daylight. But we rather foolishly rejected his advice, even though our late start meant that we had hiked only 10 miles, mostly downhill. So we made camp. That didn't mean much, since I don't believe in tents unless mosquitoes are going to be a big problem. The boys picked up stones and twigs from a flat area, and then we laid a groundsheet down and unrolled our sleeping bags under the sky. And that was camp. We cooked a dinner of macaroni and cheese on my camp stove and read from a book of poetry as the light faded and the waterfall roared nearby. Lying in our sleeping bags, watching idly for shooting stars, we read bits of Vachel Lindsay and Rudyard Kipling, concluding with the most appropriate poem of all: Robert Frost's ''Road Not Taken.'' There are a couple of options from Ramona Falls, but the next morning we avoided the Timberline Trail route because we had heard that a river crossing would be difficult. Instead we took the older trail, part of the Pacific Crest Trail route, where the bridge was intact. For several miles the trail followed a stream gently downhill, to a lovely little camping spot beside a broad glacier-fed river where we had a cold breakfast. That is the lowest spot on the route (2,810 feet), and we paid for it with a punishing climb for the next few hours. Our younger son slowed his pace going up the hills and sometimes asked me to carry his backpack. We could usually gauge the slope by the tone of his voice: he grew steadily more cheerful as the trail ahead of us became flat or downhill, and increasingly doleful as we began to climb. By late afternoon the trees were shorter and more straggly, and it was clear that we were getting close to timberline. Soon we had gorgeous views of the mountain again, but it was a different Mount Hood: Sandy Glacier was now in front of us, and the ridges we had admired earlier were far off to the right. Soon we reached a series of mountain-fed rivers that were the most difficult part of the trip. They were typically shallow and narrow, less than 20 feet wide and in some places only 6 or 7 feet -- but in those places the water seethed and churned and threatened to sweep even adults off their feet. There were no real bridges, although in some places there were boulders to leap across on, and in other cases logs or boards spanned the distance. Unfortunately, the logs were mostly wet and wobbly. I had no real concern for Sheryl and myself, for if we fell in we could have scrambled out. But, watching my sons creep along a thin log as it trembled above a raging river, I had real doubts about my sanity. So, it turned out, did my wife. There were a half-dozen such rivers to cross, and we developed a routine: we threw the boys' packs to the other side, and I crossed first and took my pack off. Then I stood on the other side and each boy slowly made his way across, with each of us ready to grab a child or jump in if he fell. In the end, they got their feet wet, but nothing worse. These river crossings are simply a part of the trail, and there is not much one can do about them. Some adults carry sandals to wade across the wider but slower sections, but the current would be too swift for a child. Where a river seems a particular challenge, one can try to hike upriver to a narrower point, or else camp out and cross in the morning. The rivers are usually lower in the morning and swell in the afternoon as they are fed by ice melt. The final crossing of the day, at Eliot Creek, had been washed out, but a detour had been blazed, taking us upriver a half-mile or so. We gingerly stepped down the gravel of the steep canyon, wondering about landslides and avalanches, then came to the river. The best crossing point that I could find involved climbing up a boulder and then leaping down and across about five feet to a slick rock peeking above the torrent, and then jumping across a smaller patch of water to dry land. Our younger son paused against the darkening sky, gathering courage, and then jumped perhaps the longest leap of his life. He landed perfectly, I caught his arms, and together we jumped to dry land. He was trembling, but very proud. We hiked until dark, wanting to leave as little as possible for the third day. So it was dusk as we settled in the Cloud Cap campground, more than 17 miles since our camp the night before. We cooked a dinner of Spanish rice on the camp stove and collapsed into our sleeping bags. As we awoke the next morning, a deer was strolling just a few feet away. That made us come alert, and soon we were on the trail -- headed up again. The trail wound above timberline, crossing large snowfields, and we showed the boys how to use their hiking staffs as ice axes to stop their descent if they fell and began sliding down. The trail crossed a no man's land of barren lava, and the wind whipped across us furiously, almost threatening to blow our younger son over. There were no other hikers around, and the tracks in the snow suggested that only a few hikers a day passed along this part of the trail. Within a couple of hours, though, we had reached the highest part, Lamberson Spur, 7,320 feet, and soon afterward the trail left the windy ridges and dropped back into a lovely forest with flower-filled glades. After lunch by a river, then a hike over a series of hills above and below timberline, we saw the mountain unfold to our right. Only one river was a problem, shallow, but too wide for a bridge. I simply stripped to my underwear, put my shoes on without socks, then carried everybody over on my back, one by one. I felt like Friar Tuck. The sun was lowering as we reached Timberline Lodge again, and a coyote skirted around us as we approached the parking lot and our car. We ate dinner in the lodge, enjoying the novelty of warm water to wash our hands, not to mention plates to eat on, and the boys talked about their adventure. Our younger son fairly burst with pride when I said he might be the youngest person ever to backpack around Mount Hood. The scariest part, the boys said, was the wind on the ridges that morning. And the best part? ''The meals,'' our older son said, thoughtfully. ''No,'' his brother objected. ''The rest breaks.'' If you go: The Timberline Trail is normally reasonably clear of snow and hikable from about mid-July through early October. But the snowpack varies greatly each year, so check first. The Mount Hood Information Center, 65000 East Highway 26, Post Office Box 1120, Welches, Ore. 97067, (888) 622-4822 (888) 622-4822 (888) 622-4822 (888) 622-4822 , fax (503) 622-7625; www.mthood.info, has free trail maps and trail descriptions. I also recommend the Mount Hood Wilderness Map, available from the center ($6.95 plus $2 shipping). In the summer, there are reports on trail conditions at www.fs.fed.us/r6/mthood. Reports for the south side of the mountain are in the Zigzag ranger district, the north side in the Hood River district. To get to Timberline Lodge from Portland, take Highway 26 East about 40 miles until the Timberline Road turn-off, and then six miles to the lodge itself. Reservations: (800) 547-1406 (800) 547-1406 (800) 547-1406 (800) 547-1406 or www.timberlinelodge .com. Double rates: $75 to $225. If you start your hike from another access point, you will need a Northwest Forest Pass, a parking pass available from the information center and many local vendors ($5 a day). Besides Timberline Lodge, there is no other place on the trail to get supplies or make a telephone call. Mountain streams are a ready source of water, but take purification tablets. WINTER IN THE SNOW: TAKING THE MOUNTAIN LESS TRAVELED; Mount Hood, Ore. When Franklin D. Roosevelt presided over the dedication in 1937 of the great stone-and-timber lodge on Mount Hood, some 50 miles southeast of Portland, he predicted: ''Those who will follow us to Timberline Lodge on their holidays and vacations will represent the enjoyment of new opportunities for play in every season of the year.'' At Mount Hood, you can get in a run before Halloween or ski on a glacier on a volcano in August. The mountain, promising the longest ski season in North America, is a fine choice for anyone itching to carve turns when other resorts are selling lift tickets to mountain bikers. Except for two weeks in the fall, when it is closed for maintenance, a high-speed quad lift takes skiers up to the Palmer Snowfield at Timberline and the resort's most difficult runs. The runs are marked with a black diamond (most difficult), but good intermediate skiers insist they can handle them. The vertical drop is 3,590 feet; there are 31 separate trails on more than 1,000 skiable acres and a total of six lifts. Skibowl has far fewer vertical feet of skiing -- 1,500 -- but the terrain is very steep with 40 percent of the area rated expert. The nine lifts include four double chairs. The Meadows area, with 2,777 feet of vertical, includes 4 high-speed quads among its 12 lifts on more than 2,000 acres of terrain. In spring and summer on the mountain, there's a weather phenomenon known locally as ''spooge,'' a spongy cloud system off the Pacific Ocean that tends to break up just as one approaches the Timberline Lodge, revealing the giant white peak above and a carpet of mist below. When the weather cooperates, the handsome, steep-roofed lodge offers views of Hood's summit, of Mount Jefferson, 50 miles to the south, and of central Oregon's high desert. The lodge, a national historic landmark built as a Federal work project, is outfitted with handmade furniture, rugs, curtains and light fixtures made during the Depression with mountain motifs like blue gentian, cornflower and swamp lily. Recycling started early here, with andirons bent from old railroad tracks, a fireplace screen made of old tire chains and hooked rugs fashioned from bleached and dyed Civilian Conservation Corps uniforms. Frommer's Review of Timberline Lodge Constructed during the Great Depression of the 1930s as a WPA project, this classic alpine ski lodge overflows with craftsmanship. The grand stone fireplace, huge exposed beams, and wide-plank floors of the lobby impress every first-time visitor. Woodcarvings, imaginative wrought-iron fixtures, hand-hooked rugs, and handmade furniture complete the rustic picture. Unfortunately, guest rooms, which vary considerably in size, are not as impressive as the public areas of the lodge. The smallest rooms lack private bathrooms, and windows in most rooms fail to take advantage of the phenomenal views that could be had here. However, you can always visit the Ram's Head lounge for a better view of Mount Hood. Frommer's Review of The Resort at the Mountain It's a bit of a drive to Timberline or Government Camp and the area's hiking trails and ski areas, but if a round of golf in a gorgeous setting sounds tempting, this golf resort, set in a large clearing in the dense woods at the base of Mount Hood, is one of your best choices in the Mount Hood area. Beautifully landscaped grounds incorporating concepts from Japanese garden design hide the resort's many low-rise buildings and make this a tranquil woodsy retreat. The guest rooms are large and have either a balcony or a patio. The main lodge has a formal dining room, while a more casual dining room overlooks the golf course. In addition to the amenities listed below, there are horseshoe pits, croquet and lawn bowling courts, volleyball and badminton courts, nature trails, and a pro shop. The Rendezvous Grill & Tap Room Address 67149 E. U.S. 26, Welches, OR 45.351238-121.973836 Phone 503/622-6837 503/622-6837 503/622-6837 503/622-6837 Web Site www.rendezvousgrill.net Located right on U.S. 26 in Welches, this casual, upscale restaurant is a great choice for dinner on your way back to Portland. Although the emphasis is on Mediterranean dishes, other flavors also show up. Don't miss the rigatoni with alder-smoked chicken with toasted hazelnuts and dried cranberries. The pan-fried oysters and the ever-popular crab-and-shrimp cakes, both of which are available at lunch and dinner, are also good bets. Matthew DrakeMatthew Drake has been connected with Mt. Hood Meadows since the ski hill's opening day in 1968, when his father, the founder, charged his then-eight-year-old son with raising the alarm when the first cars pulled into the parking lot. He spent years away from the business, including stints selling mortgage-backed securities on Wall Street and working for the construction business founded by his grandfather. But Drake has been an officer in the family ski business since 1989, and became chief executive of the company in 2006, when his father Franklin Drake retired. The ski business can be a slippery ride. Only three years ago, riding an economic and snowboarding boom, the industry was enjoying record attendance. Last year's economic downturn put an end to that streak. Drake spent a few minutes talking about the state of the business. His answers have been edited for length and clarity. According to industry surveys, skier traffic was down 14.4 percent in Pacific Northwest last year. Was that Meadows experience and why? I think that's a pretty accurate number. How much was the December weather challenges and how much the recession is hard to tell. The weather made for a challenging start to the season, mostly because our guests couldn't get out of their driveways. Layer that on top of the macroeconomic conditions we were combating. I wouldn't say we downsized, but last year we had a core group of people to run the operation, and we delayed when most of our staff started because our business was off so significantly in December. It was a perfect storm. The economy has gotten tougher, and there's an El Nino in the Pacific, which typically means lower snowpack. What's the bigger driver, the weather or the economy? We've been debating that for 42 years. In the end, good weather and good snow conditions will trump a crappy economy. Having said that, there has been an impact from the economy for sure. We're off to a better start this year. I wouldn't say the crowds have been spectacular, but it's been pretty solid. We opened November 11. We had a flawless transition from zero snow to where we opened six days later. That affects all the businesses along 26 going to and from the mountain. It's really nice to be in this position with the economy we're in, to generate some positive economic ripple. Our biggest winter (snowfall-wise) was an El Nino year and the second biggest was a La Nina year. We track all the predictions and look at the history, but it's a flip of the coin on what the weather is going to do. How are you trying to draw more guests? We don't seem to see heavy discounting. Are there other things guest will notice? What we're trying to do is provide a really high-quality experience that's affordable for our guests. We do have close ties with some of our local sponsors. All those specials and all that pricing is something we promote through our own web site. This year, we opened for night skiing on Nov. 27, about two weeks earlier than usual. The night lighting is a significant upgrade and we have a program called Meadows After Dark. Guests should notice a marked improvement in our grooming and our terrain park. It's a function of some new equipment and some training,. We're working very hard to open a new 18-foot half pipe on Cascade. Once its open, it'll be the only half pipe on the West Coast. How is technology changing your business, and what's up with those handheld lift ticket scanners? The changes we made to our web site this summer with social media has made the dialogue with our guests more immediate, more accurate and more real. People can go to the web site and send us that feedback.. We take that very seriously and act on it. It wasn't that long ago that we had groomers on the mountain radioing weather and snow conditions down to dispatch, who telephoned the marketing office in Portland very early in the morning to update a recording. Now you have the ability to do this all in real time. We have the ability to sell tickets on line. We're rapidly moving to a direct-to-lift resort where the guests don't even have to go to the ticket office. Our lift operators have made some incredible strides in scanning. It's a better way to go than controlled access, which is a very regimented, unfriendly experience. I think we can still do things to improve the experience. Why are there so few moguls at Meadows? It used to be that we left heavily moguled areas. That was back in the 80s and 90s. Now we get almost no request for it. We get requests to groom it out, smooth it out. We're trying to cater to what the guests are asking for. To some extent, that's a function of the equipment people are using and what they like to ride. Between 55 to 60 percent of our annual guests are snowboard traffic. We have a lot of riders, though over the last two years, we've seen a resurgence in alpine skiing with the new skis that are rocker skis and twin tips. Wildwood Recreation Site Fish Interpretive Trail Monday, February 27, 2006 Wildwood Recreation Site is just off highway 26 on your way up the mountain. An easy drive from the Portland area, it offers spectacular interpretive fish walks. With grant funding, the trails were designed with the visitor in mind. One side offers a boardwalk over the wetlands allowing the hiker to explore the birds and wildlife up close and personal. With outstanding artwork and displays to guide the viewer in discovering the unusual environment found there. On the other side, a paved trail leads you down to the river below. Also filled with interactive displays and even an underwater fish window where salmon and trout are viewed in their natural habitat. Truly an amazing place of discovery for all abilities, as the hikes is easy and very short. Oregon is famous for the ski slopes found around the state, and if you are planning a ski vacation, you should definitely consider Timberline Lodge, located near Mt. Hood in Oregon. There is quite a bit of history in the area, starting with the lodge that was built during the Great Depression by a master craftsman. The Timberline Lodge also has a bit of more recent history attached to it. Part of the movie, The Shining, was filmed here. Many of the ''outside'' shots were done at Timberline Lodge. The lodge is entirely hand made, and well preserved. The hand woven draperies and the hand hewn beams add to the rustic charm and history of the place. The lodge sits in the middle of 1400 acres consisting of 35 trails. The trails are perfect for beginners, intermediates, and experts. The top elevation at Timberline Lodge is 8504 with a vertical drop of 2501. There are six chair lifts to accommodate skiers. One of the most unique things about Timberline is that it is the one place in the United States that offers year-round snow skiing. Palmer Snowfield is part of the Timberline Resort, and it is permanently covered with snow. Beginners are not always allowed on Palmer snowfield ? the conditions are considered each day when making this determination. Skiing, snowboarding, hiking, snowshoeing, and lodge tours are the main attractions at Timberline. Here, it is all about the powder! Mt. Hood is an active volcano which is considered to be dormant. Occasionally, tremors are felt, and steam vents are often visible. The Cascade Dining Room is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day, but the hours do change with the seasons. Other fare can be found at the Ram''s Head Bar, the Blue Ox bar, the Wy''East Kitchen Cafeteria, the Market Café, and the Mt. Hood Brewing Company. Rental equipment is not available at Timberline. You must bring your own equipment. However, smaller items such as gloves and goggles can be purchased at the lodge, along with some clothing items. There is a snowboard and ski school on the premises, and private and group lessons are available. If the idea of a ''rustic'' ski vacation appeals to you, as opposed to trips with accommodations that are a bit fancier, then Timberline Lodge in Oregon is the place to be! Again, it is definitely all about the history and the powder here. However, whether you ski or not, you must not miss the Magic Mile, which offers a panoramic view of the Cascade mountains that cannot be matched! MOUNT HOOD, Ore. -- She's a lurker. Mount Hood, the craggiest and mightiest of the Oregon Cascades, is a rock-and-ice presence that, on many days, you feel more than see. The Mount Hood National Forest is located 20 miles (32 km) east of the city of Portland, Oregon, and the northern Willamette River valley. The Forest extends south from the Columbia River Gorge across more than 60 miles (97 km) , the main expanse of public land here. * Timberline Lodge Timberline Lodge is a mountain lodge and National Historic Landmark at 6,000 ft (1,800 m) elevation on the south side of Mount Hood in Oregon, USA, about 60 miles (95 km) east of Portland. and Ski Area stays open all summer, tempting the tent-averse with cozy fireplace rooms, and luring skiers and snowboarders to ride the salted snow The Palmer Glacier is a glacier located on the upper slopes of Mount Hood in the U.S. state of Oregon.[1] . The same alpine outpost provides a base camp for Hood summit climbers, day hikers and cyclists who brave the climb from the village of Government Camp, below. While you're partaking of one or all of those activities, the clouds, at some point, ultimately will part and reveal Hood in all its majesty In the early summer, when bright snow still covers most of its upper flanks, the sight is splendid enough to stop you in your tracks -- or at least send you scurrying Mount Hood National Forest Day hiking The best way to see Hood -- and perhaps feel it, rubbing away at the fragile skin inside your shoes -- is by foot. A couple of classic alpine day hikes on the flanks of the mountain itself: * The Pacific Crest Trail skirts right past Timberline Lodge, and becomes one and the same for some distance with the Timberline Trail (Trail No. 600), a 40-mile wonder that circles the entire mountain, all in the alpine zone. For a grand day hike, follow Trail 600 west from Timberline for about a mile, down and back up Little Zigzag Canyon. It's just a warm-up for the coming big plunge. About a mile farther, you'll drop about 800 feet down, and then back up, Big Zigzag Canyon. On the other side, turn up the Paradise Park trail and find yourself a well-earned lunch spot. The park is a sprawling series of meadowlands, alive with wildflowers during summer months. Depending on your final destination, it's a hike of six or seven miles round-trip, and falls mostly within the Mount Hood Wilderness The Mount Hood Wilderness is a protected wilderness area inside the Mount Hood National Forest which is located in the U.S. state of Oregon. The area, about 47,000 acres (190 km²), includes the peak of Mount Hood and its upper slopes, and ranges from temperate rain forests at the . The trail is mostly snow-free, but keep in mind that stream crossings can be tricky: A small trickler of a stream in the morning might become a raging torrent on a warm afternoon. Free wilderness permits, self-issued at the wilderness boundary, are required. A Northwest Forest Pass ($5 a day or $30 annually), required for most trails in the Mount Hood National Forest, is not required to access this trail from the Timberline parking lot, but is required at other Trail 600 trailheads, such as Ramona Falls and Top Spur. Camping, fishing, boating The Mount Hood National Forest is rich with pleasant campgrounds. Among our favorites: * Trillium Lake couldn't be much more conveniently located, just a couple miles off Highway 26, just east of Government Camp. The 57-site camp is found on the lake's east shore, and its pleasant campsites offer nice privacy for tenters or RVers. The lake has a swimming/fishing dock (no gas motors allowed) and is completely ringed by a 2.4-mile trail. The best view of Mount Hood along this trail -- and the best bank fishing for trout in the lake -- is from the dam at the lake's south end (if you're approaching the trail from the campground, go clockwise). The lake is a great place for canoes or kayaks, with stunning, up-close views of Mount Hood from the center. * Much-larger Timothy Lake, also manmade, is ringed by a half-dozen impressive campgrounds, many with campsites offering broad views of Mount Hood. They are Cove (10 sites), Gone Creek (50 sites), Hoodview (43 sites), North Arm (8 sites), Oak Fork (47 sites) and Pine Point (25 sites). All have pit toilets and lack RV hookups, but accommodate both tents and RVs. Our favorite: Gone Creek. The Timothy Lake camps also have boat launches and day-use areas, and a scenic, flat trail leads 11.5 miles around the lake. Motors are allowed on this lake, and trout fishing can be productive for gear trollers. Canoes and even windsurfing boards are popular here. Wildlife watching is another local highlight: Skiing and lodging The best place to work out or kick back at Mount Hood is Timberline Lodge, the grand, historic 1937 inn at Timberline Ski Area. Thanks to year-round snow on the Palmer Snowfield (between 7,000 and 8,500 feet), the mountain is open for skiing throughout the summer. You've got to want it pretty badly There are many things to do including downhill skiing and snowboarding, hiking, and cross country skiing. Skiing and Snowboarding: Mt. Hood is home to three skiing and snowboarding resorts: Mt. Hood Meadows, Timberline Lodge, and Ski Bowl, as well as the two lesser known Summit Ski Area and Cooper Spur. Mount Hood has the only ski area in North America that is open 12 months of the year and Ski Bowl has the largest night skiing area in America. There are a number of ski and snowboard camps offered. It is best to contact each resort to find out the details. Mount Hood Meadows (operates November through April or May) offers four high speed quad lifts (and 5 other lifts), including the Cascade Express, which climbs to an elevation of 7,300 feet. The lifts are open daily 9AM-4PM, with night skiing until 9PM on Fridays and Saturdays. For those with limited skiing and snowboarding abilities, Meadows also offers the "Groove Tube" tubing hill on certain days for $5 and includes tube rental. As a side note, Meadows also the hosts local High School Snowboard Club/Team competitions. Timberline (year round, except maintenance closure 2 weeks following Labor Day) offers four express quad chairlifts (and two other lifts), including the Palmer Chairlift, which reaches an elevation of 8,540 feet. Timberline is able to offer skiing and snowboarding 12 months out of the year, boasting the longest season in North America. Lift hours are 9AM-10PM Winter weekends, 9AM-4PM weekdays and after Spring break; 8AM-3PM late Spring; 7AM-1:30PM Summer. Timberline Lodge is a registered National Historic Landmark. It offers four star dining (come as you are) as well as casual and fast food, and the south deck from the second floor provides a panoramic view for over 50 miles. Skibowl (November through March) offers 4 chairlifts, with a peak elevation just over 5,000 feet. Boasting the largest night skiing area in America, Skibowl's lifts are open 3PM-10PM M-Tu, 1PM-10PM W-Th, 9AM-11PM F, 8AM-11PM Sa, 8AM-10PM Su. They also offer a Snow Tube and Adventure Park on Saturday and Sunday. Summer Activities: During the summer months Ski Bowl offers its infamous Alpine Slide, a 1/2 mile, grooved, sledding course down the face of Mt. Hood. Hiking, Biking, Horseback Riding, and Ice-Climbing are also popular summer activities on the mountain. Also check out Timberline Lodge's Magic Mile Sky Ride, a roundtrip chairlift ride to an elevation of 7,000 feet. The Pacific Crest Trail is a 2,650 mile footpath which follows the Cascades and Sierra Nevada mountains from Canada to Mexico and passes around the west side of Mount Hood. It traverses one-tenth mile above Timberline Lodge and descends between Timberline Lodge and Mount Hood Meadows to continue southward toward Timothy Lake. Timberline Trail is a 40+ mile loop hiking and equestrian path around Mount Hood mostly in protected wilderness, with a variety of magnificent vistas, primitive river crossings, alpine meadows, wildflowers, and dense forest. 17 miles of the Timberline Trail coincides with the Pacific Crest Trail. Trillium Lake is an easy two mile detour off the Mount Hood Scenic Loop and provides a great view of Mount Hood, as well as camping, fishing, and paddling. What a great idea for a weekend, have friends in Portland rent a cabin on Mt Hood near Trillium Lake for the weekend. It's near Trillium Lake, there are great views of Mt Hood, and it's an x-c skiing hotspot in the area. Sounds great, what's the catch?? Imagine strapping on your backpack, clicking into your skis, turning on your headlamp, and skiing off into the woods to meet up with your friends at the cabin!! It was a real adventure and was a great weekend!! Of course we took a wrong turn at the start of the trail and ended up at Mt Hood SkiBowl instead of Trillium Lake! Thanks to cell phones we found out where we went wrong and made it back to the trailhead and got pointed in the right direction. So much for foolproof maps!! We started skiing at 11pm and finally managed to make it to the cabin at 2am! In all we skied about 5 miles that night finding the cabin, and it was some of the best snow we saw all weekend! The x-c skiing at Trillium Lake is very popular. The trails are wide and groomed and usually end up with two or three tracks so that people don't bunch up too badly on the uphills and downhills. There is a wide selection of trails from easy to more difficult. The view of Mt Hood from Trillium Lake is really beautiful! There are quite a few rental cabins and they are open for rent. Our cabin was rented by a friend from a doctor in Portland. It was a rustic but comfortable two-story cabin with three small bedrooms and 1 1/2 bathrooms. We even had running water and electricity, but had to haul in food on a sled pulled by one of us on skis/snowshoes. The trailhead is about a mile from the cabins, and is right at the ODOT highway maintenance station in Government camp. Dressed in Gore-Tex pants and a T-shirt, I stood in skis and peered down the Palmer snowfield in fear. I'm an intermediate skier at best, and the run that makes Mount Hood's Timberline Lodge the only place for year-round skiing in North America is a challenging black diamond trail. Had I come to Oregon's highest peak in early summer, the lower trails would have been open—gentler terrain to match my measured nerve. "You can parallel turn and slide stop, right?" the lift operator inquired. I nodded. "You'll be fine. The pitch really isn't that steep." It looked steep to me, but I pushed off and was relieved to find that the 70-degree heat had turned the morning's icy layer into soft, manageable snow with a texture made slightly grainy by a nightly salt treatment. I skied into a clear view of snow-streaked Mount Jefferson and the rolling green of the Cascade Range while other skiers and boarders whisked by, gloveless, getting in a final run before the lifts shut down at 1:30 p.m. On the remainder of the snowfield, Olympians and aspiring Olympians from American, Japanese, and Canadian ski teams carved up the groomed lanes reserved for training. Summer schussing keeps athletes competitive and diehards satiated. For the rest of us, summer skiing is about options, a chance to explore Mount Hood well into the long, warm days of summer. Halfway down the mountainside, I dropped over a small ledge and made wide, sweeping switchbacks down a canyon as hikers made their way up. I could see families pouring out of the Magic Mile chairlift to a prime picnic spot at 7,000 feet and guests at the 1937 Timberline Lodge lounging by the swimming pool. Within the Mount Hood National Forest's 1 million acres of wilderness, visitors can hike hundreds of miles of trails, including the adventurous route to Hood's 11,240-foot summit. You can also angle from the shore of clear blue lakes or shoot down the Clackamas or Salmon rivers by kayak or raft. At Mt. Hood Skibowl, the other local winter resort that's open during the summer, you can rent mountain bikes, go bungee jumping, zip down an alpine slide, or scurry up the climbing wall. After I finished my final run, instead of sipping a mug of hot chocolate, I changed from skis to hiking boots and stepped off the Palmer snowfield and onto the Pacific Crest Trail. I had plenty of daylight left for an afternoon trek among the lupine. ABRUPTLY, the trail emerged from the forest to reveal a delicate meadow filled with purple and red flowers. Ablaze with color, it shimmered like an image in a kaleidoscope. To the left of the trail was an ice-fed lake; Mount Hood towered over us on the right. We were familiar with the sight, for we were hiking a loop around Mount Hood, and it loomed above us each time we emerged above timberline. But it is overwhelming at its cloudy worst and mesmerizing at its glorious best, offering a constantly unfolding view as we inched around (or so it seemed) and caught sight of new ravines, new glaciers, new peaks. I grew up in Oregon, with Mount Hood a constant presence on the horizon, but although I had backpacked widely in the area, there was one major trail I had never fully hiked: the Timberline Trail, which winds for 40 miles around the mountain. So last summer I remedied that, bringing along my wife and sons, then age 9 and 7. It had seemed roughly a four-day hike with children, but my wife, Sheryl, put her foot down: she would go for three days and no longer. So I redefined it as a three-day hike, meaning we would simply hike farther each day. Early one morning we drove to Timberline Lodge, a fabulous old ski lodge that was built by the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression. The work began in the spring of 1936, with 14 feet of snow on the ground, but the building was completed in just 15 months and was soon recognized as a masterpiece of mountain lodge construction. We left our car in the parking lot, put on our backpacks and began to walk clockwise around the mountain. Theoretically, the Timberline Trail follows timberline -- at about the 5,000-foot level -- around Mount Hood. In fact, it plunges with each ravine and then rises again to cross each ridge, so that a hiker can spend a morning traipsing through deep forests and the afternoon high on the mountain traversing barren moonscapes of snow and gravel. Though challenging enough for our party, the hike was not as potentially dangerous as scaling the summit. We spent the first morning mostly going down, down, down, before having lunch beside the sparkling (and aptly named) Zigzag River. Then we climbed steadily along switchbacks to pass through (equally apt) Paradise Park -- a lush series of mountain meadows, creeks and vistas just below the glaciers and snowfields. Then the trail plunged back into the forest, winding for several steep miles down to the Sandy River. The shallow river was only about 15 feet wide, and rangers had cut a tree down over it, so we slowly balanced our way across to the other side. In less than a mile we reached Ramona Falls, a delicate waterfall cascading down a series of rocks. Our older son wanted to press on, for there was another hour or two of daylight. But we rather foolishly rejected his advice, even though our late start meant that we had hiked only 10 miles, mostly downhill. So we made camp. That didn't mean much, since I don't believe in tents unless mosquitoes are going to be a big problem. The boys picked up stones and twigs from a flat area, and then we laid a groundsheet down and unrolled our sleeping bags under the sky. And that was camp. We cooked a dinner of macaroni and cheese on my camp stove and read from a book of poetry as the light faded and the waterfall roared nearby. Lying in our sleeping bags, watching idly for shooting stars, we read bits of Vachel Lindsay and Rudyard Kipling, concluding with the most appropriate poem of all: Robert Frost's ''Road Not Taken.'' There are a couple of options from Ramona Falls, but the next morning we avoided the Timberline Trail route because we had heard that a river crossing would be difficult. Instead we took the older trail, part of the Pacific Crest Trail route, where the bridge was intact. For several miles the trail followed a stream gently downhill, to a lovely little camping spot beside a broad glacier-fed river where we had a cold breakfast. That is the lowest spot on the route (2,810 feet), and we paid for it with a punishing climb for the next few hours. Our younger son slowed his pace going up the hills and sometimes asked me to carry his backpack. We could usually gauge the slope by the tone of his voice: he grew steadily more cheerful as the trail ahead of us became flat or downhill, and increasingly doleful as we began to climb. By late afternoon the trees were shorter and more straggly, and it was clear that we were getting close to timberline. Soon we had gorgeous views of the mountain again, but it was a different Mount Hood: Sandy Glacier was now in front of us, and the ridges we had admired earlier were far off to the right. Soon we reached a series of mountain-fed rivers that were the most difficult part of the trip. They were typically shallow and narrow, less than 20 feet wide and in some places only 6 or 7 feet -- but in those places the water seethed and churned and threatened to sweep even adults off their feet. There were no real bridges, although in some places there were boulders to leap across on, and in other cases logs or boards spanned the distance. Unfortunately, the logs were mostly wet and wobbly. I had no real concern for Sheryl and myself, for if we fell in we could have scrambled out. But, watching my sons creep along a thin log as it trembled above a raging river, I had real doubts about my sanity. So, it turned out, did my wife. There were a half-dozen such rivers to cross, and we developed a routine: we threw the boys' packs to the other side, and I crossed first and took my pack off. Then I stood on the other side and each boy slowly made his way across, with each of us ready to grab a child or jump in if he fell. In the end, they got their feet wet, but nothing worse. These river crossings are simply a part of the trail, and there is not much one can do about them. Some adults carry sandals to wade across the wider but slower sections, but the current would be too swift for a child. Where a river seems a particular challenge, one can try to hike upriver to a narrower point, or else camp out and cross in the morning. The rivers are usually lower in the morning and swell in the afternoon as they are fed by ice melt. The final crossing of the day, at Eliot Creek, had been washed out, but a detour had been blazed, taking us upriver a half-mile or so. We gingerly stepped down the gravel of the steep canyon, wondering about landslides and avalanches, then came to the river. The best crossing point that I could find involved climbing up a boulder and then leaping down and across about five feet to a slick rock peeking above the torrent, and then jumping across a smaller patch of water to dry land. Our younger son paused against the darkening sky, gathering courage, and then jumped perhaps the longest leap of his life. He landed perfectly, I caught his arms, and together we jumped to dry land. He was trembling, but very proud. We hiked until dark, wanting to leave as little as possible for the third day. So it was dusk as we settled in the Cloud Cap campground, more than 17 miles since our camp the night before. We cooked a dinner of Spanish rice on the camp stove and collapsed into our sleeping bags. As we awoke the next morning, a deer was strolling just a few feet away. That made us come alert, and soon we were on the trail -- headed up again. The trail wound above timberline, crossing large snowfields, and we showed the boys how to use their hiking staffs as ice axes to stop their descent if they fell and began sliding down. The trail crossed a no man's land of barren lava, and the wind whipped across us furiously, almost threatening to blow our younger son over. There were no other hikers around, and the tracks in the snow suggested that only a few hikers a day passed along this part of the trail. Within a couple of hours, though, we had reached the highest part, Lamberson Spur, 7,320 feet, and soon afterward the trail left the windy ridges and dropped back into a lovely forest with flower-filled glades. After lunch by a river, then a hike over a series of hills above and below timberline, we saw the mountain unfold to our right. Only one river was a problem, shallow, but too wide for a bridge. I simply stripped to my underwear, put my shoes on without socks, then carried everybody over on my back, one by one. I felt like Friar Tuck. The sun was lowering as we reached Timberline Lodge again, and a coyote skirted around us as we approached the parking lot and our car. We ate dinner in the lodge, enjoying the novelty of warm water to wash our hands, not to mention plates to eat on, and the boys talked about their adventure. Our younger son fairly burst with pride when I said he might be the youngest person ever to backpack around Mount Hood. The scariest part, the boys said, was the wind on the ridges that morning. And the best part? ''The meals,'' our older son said, thoughtfully. ''No,'' his brother objected. ''The rest breaks.''