Snowmobiling near Lookout Mountain, Oregon

We are back into a dry weather pattern in the Pacific Northwest, but there is still some snow in the higher elevations of the Mt Hood National Forest. My friends John and Jordan joined me on Saturday for a snowmobile trip near High Prairie and Lookout Mountain East of Mt Hood. When the snow pack is down lower (around 3,000') one can snowmobile from Little John SnoPark (near intersection of Hwy 35 and NF-44). Unfortunately that is not the case right now.

We arrived at Little John SnoPark around 7:30 AM. It was 18°F with sunny skies and no wind. There were a few patches of snow in the area, so we decided to walk down the trail that meets up with national forest road 44. While not a lot of snow, there was enough on NF-44 to snowmobile (several inches of consolidated snow on the sides). We went back to the truck and drove a couple hundred yards down Hwy 35 to the junction with NF-44. NF-44 is closed in the winter and not plowed. We unloaded the sleds and I took the truck back to Little John SnoPark.

We starting riding up the road, but the snow unfortunately disappeared about one mile up. What a disappointment. I decided to go on a little walk up the road to see if the conditions improved around the corner. Unfortunately they did not, so I walked further up the road until I found snow. I continued walking after I found snow to see if it would disappear again, and unfortunately it did. I decided to walk further and eventually I found consistent snow around the 4,100' elevation level. My short walk turned into a 5 mile round-trip hike. My friends were wondering what happened to me as I was gone for about an hour.

We turned the sleds around and rode back down the road. I picked up the truck and drove it back over to the parked sleds where we quickly loaded them up. We drove up the road a few miles to the spot I had picked out and unloaded them again.

By then it was around 10 AM and the temperature was well above freezing (inversion - it has been warmer the higher in elevation you go). There were a couple small bare patches of road on NF-4410 (Lookout Mountain Rd), but the snow became consistently deeper as we climbed in elevation.

John and I taking a break with Mt Hood in the background     NE side of Mt Hood

The snow was a couple feet deep up around High Prairie (~6,000' elevation). We tried to head down NF-3550 toward Jean Lake and Bonney Meadows, but it was too drifted and steep for us to pass. We turned around at the same place someone else had a few days earlier. We headed down NF-4420 instead and found a fun little side road with plenty of bumps to help us launch our snowmobiles into the air.

Jordan and John relaxing after snowmobiling to High Prairie     Snowmobiles at High Prairie with Mt Hood in the backgrond

The video below is of Jordan playing around on my Polaris 500 RMK. He had fun getting some air.

Unfortunately the red sled (2008 Polaris 700 Dragon RMK) started acting up. The top end power disappeared. I jumped on to check it out and at WOT I could only get around 6,800 to 7,000 RPM and it felt like a slug. Every now and then some more power would kick in, but then disappear again. It's a fuel injected sled, so I am not really sure what was going on. We decided to play it safe and after a quick lunch we headed back to the truck.

At least we found some snow to have fun on for a few hours. There is no snow in the weather forecast anytime soon, so I guess it was a good time for a sled to need service. I dropped it off at Mt. Hood Polaris on the way home. Hopefully they can fix it quickly without costing me too much.

Gear List

2013 Polaris 800 Switchback Assault Snowmobile
2008 Polaris 700 Dragon RMK Snowmobile
2002 Polaris 500 RMK Snowmobile
HMK Summit V16 Pack
GMAX GM76X Helmet
Smith Phenom Turbo Fan Goggles
Columbia Men’s Bugaboot Max Electric Boots
Columbia Men's Echochrome Ski Pants
Columbia Titanium Hightail II Softshell Jacket
Columbia Triple Trail Shell Jacket
Triple Star Packable Down Hooded Jacket
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
Sony Action Cam HDR-AS30V
Lifeline Aluminum Sport Utility Snow Shovel
First Aid Kit
iPhone w/NeoTreksGPS
Suunto A-10 Compass


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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.