Mt Hood Trifecta Snowmobile Ride

I couldn't stand the wait any longer, so Katie and I planned a snowmobile trip on Sunday with just one sled. This was my first time back on a snowmobile since my crash at Bonney Meadows in December. I am still waiting on parts to fix that snowmobile, but luckily its twin is in tip-top shape. We didn't have a particular agenda besides having fun and being safe. We chose to unload at Frog Lake Sno-Park, which is about 7 miles Southeast of Government Camp off Hwy 26.

We arrived at the Sno-Park just before 9 AM where there was still plenty of parking. The roads were icy on the way up, but the snow looked great at the Sno-Park. There was several inches of fresh snow. The temperature was about 28°F with overcast skies.

Lonely Trailer with only a Single Snowmobile     Katie Ready for a Day of 2-up Riding

After unloading our snowmobile and gearing up, we set off down the trail toward FS road 43. We were one of the first ones out Sunday and soon our track was the only fresh one. I wanted to explore a little bit of the Old Barlow Road (3530) near Barlow Crossing Campground, so we headed that way. We only made it in a couple miles before downed trees made it too much work to continue. This area is lower elevation, so there was not enough snow to cover everything up.

Barlow Creek in the Snow     Katie Enjoying the Snow on the Old Barlow Road

From the Old Barlow Road, we headed over to FS road 48 toward White River East Sno-Park. I was hopeful the weather might get nice enough to see a glimpse of Mt Hood. The opposite was true. We arrived at White River East Sno-Park just as a snow shower with gusty winds was pushing through. We walked around a little along one of the branches of White River before hopping back on our snowmobile and heading back. We stopped after about 5 miles as the weather improved and the sun partially came out. Our tracks were still the only ones to be seen. Talk about total solitude!

Only Our Tracks on FS Road 48 Near White River East Sno-Park     Katie Enjoying a Hot Drink

We retraced our track back toward Frog Lake when we came upon a family who was exploring the trails in an old 1950's SNO-CAT. It's the first I had ever seen in person. It was just like the one in the picture up at Timberline Lodge. The owner said it was decent on fuel and could go anywhere, topping out at about 18 mph.

It just so happened we came across the SNO-CAT right near the sledding area we plan to take family to next month. While Katie chatted with the family, I took off riding through the trees on the untouched powder. Before I knew it, I was riding up along the edge of an old clearcut and then cut down right on the steep sledding hill. It was a blast, as it's maybe 200 vertical feet with the top half about 35-40°.

An Old SNO-CAT Near Frog Lake Sno-Park     Snowmobile Tunnel Under Hwy 26 to Skyline Sno-Park

The day was still young, so we decided to complete our Mt Hood Sno-Park trifecta by riding over to Skyline Sno-Park via the tunnel under Hwy 26. Skyline Sno-Park was packed with snowmobilers. We continued a little farther to Clear Lake, which appeared mostly frozen.

Jason and Katie at Clear Lake     Frozen Clear Lake

From Clear Lake we headed back through the tunnel under the highway and paused at Frog Lake before returning to Frog Lake Sno-Park. By day's end we had logged over 55 miles, explored three Sno-Parks, and used just a hair over a quarter tank of gas. It was our best mileage yet at about 18 mpg (better than my truck gets)!

Katie in the Snowmobile Tunnel     Frog Lake

As we were loading up the snowmobile on the trailer to go home we noticed how empty the Sno-Park had become. It was 2 PM and many people had already headed home. We'll be back soon as I think all my snowmobile parts should be delivered by week's end. Now I just need some knee surgery and I'll be almost as good as new.

Gear List

'02 Polaris 500 RMK Snowmobile
GMAX GM76X Helmet
Smith Phenom Turbo Fan Rx Goggles
Columbia Men’s Bugaboot Max Electric Boots
Merrell Women's Whiteout 8 Winter Boots
Columbia Men's Echochrome Ski Pants
Columbia Titanium Hightail II Softshell Jacket
Columbia Men's Triple Trail Shell Jacket
Columbia Powerfly Down Puff Jacket
Columbia Sportswear Women's Alpine Alliance Parka
Head Digital Sport Liner Gloves
Outdoor Research Ambit Gloves
Columbia Men's Fast Trek Fleece Hat
Petzl TIKKA XP 2 Headlamp
Olympus Tough TG-1 Camera
Lifeline Aluminum Sport Utility Snow Shovel
First Aid Kit
iPhone w/NeoTreksGPS
Suunto A-10 Compass



Justin, Mon, 10/27/2014 - 14:50

You use the sled much for backcountry ski access? Been playing with the idea of getting one but seems like most of the good BC access is up in WA.

jloomis, Wed, 10/29/2014 - 20:26

I have not, but have heard of people doing it. A snowmobile can open up a lot more area for a back country skier.

Post new comment

Disclaimer: You are responsible for informing yourself of the hazards of backcountry travel and taking the necessary precautions. Loomis Adventures may not be held liable.