Snowshoeing Boy Scout Ridge on the Slopes of Mount Hood, Oregon

We left for White River SnoPark (off Hwy 35) before sunrise, hoping to beat the crowds of sledders and other snowshoers. Our plan was to hike up the Boy Scout Ridge trail above White River Canyon on the slopes of Mount Hood. The trail gains about 1,800 feet elevation over 2.5 miles. When we arrived, there were only 9 other vehicles in the parking lot and several had been there overnight. The temperature was about 30°F with a light breeze and low clouds. We were hoping the clouds would clear, so we could catch a glimpse of Mount Hood. Click here for an interactive trail map with GPS waypoints.

Katie Ready to Snowshoe at White River SnoPark     Jason Snowshoeing on Boy Scout Ridge Trail

The first 3/4 of a mile of the trail was familiar to us as we had been here at sunset three days prior. The difference today was the snow was firm and icy instead of soft and slushy. Snowshoes were overkill, but the built-in crampons on our Yukon Charlie's snowshoes soon proved very helpful. At about the 1.8 mile mark, we came to a steep open slope of Boy Scout Ridge. We could see snowboard tracks weaving down the side of the ridge. We were surprised anyone could get up there. After a quick glance at my map, I realized the trail took us straight up the left side of the slope along the trees. It was so steep we had to walk on our toes using the built-in crampons the whole way up. The only place to rest was a snow cave someone had dug into the side of the trail a quarter of the way up. Otherwise it was too steep to stop.

Boy Scout Ridge     Jason in a Snow Cave

Near the top we found a tree well that provided a fairly flat place to stop and rest. I was able take a few photos without rolling down the hill. We pondered how we were going to get back down. Walking was out of the question. Sledding down on our rears would probably be our safest bet.

Looking Down From Boy Scout Ridge     Katie on Slope of Boy Scout Ridge

Once on top of the ridge, the trail continued North at a more gentle incline. The clouds came and went, giving us a glimpse of Mount Hood every now and again. As the sun came out, it warmed up until the clouds rolled back in. The conditions teeter-tottered like this the rest of the day.

Mt Hood Peaking Through the Clouds     Katie in the Snow and Clouds

At just under 6,000 feet elevation, we were very near the timberline. Many of the trees were small and stunted or dead remnants of relics past. The further we continued, the closer we came to Mount Hood. In between the clouds, we could almost make out the whole mountain. It appeared as though the summit was only a few jumps away.

Tree Skeleton on Boy Scout Ridge     Mt Hood Partially Covered in Clouds

We arrived at the end of the trail (2.5 miles) where the ridge narrowed with White River Canyon to our right and Salmon River Canyon to our left. The snow cornices further along the ridge can be dangerous and give at any moment. We enjoyed lunch while hoping for the clouds to clear.

Jason Taking Photographs     Slopes of Mt Hood

Across the Salmon River Canyon to our left, we could see the Magic Mile Ski Lift and Timberline Lodge. We were just about parallel to the lodge. At only a couple thousand feet away as the crow flies, we heard all the noise of the lodge snow cats and guests. To our right on the other side of the White River Canyon, we caught a glimpse of one of the lifts at Mount Hood Meadows.

Top of Magic Mile Ski Lift     Timberline Lodge from Boy Scout Ridge

Before heading back, we relaxed and enjoyed the view awhile longer. At times we could barely see ten feet in front of us, yet we knew Mount Hood was looming in front of us.

Sun Shinning Through the Clouds     Katie and Jason on Boy Scout Ridge

The clouds were layered, and we were sandwiched right in the middle. It would have been easy to stay here for hours on end watching the clouds go by.

Clouds From Boy Scout Ridge     Above the Clouds

We chose a different route back to avoid the steep slope of Boy Scout Ridge. We headed down the west side of the ridge, which had a more gradual descent at the cost of a little more distance. Most of the route was in the trees with little in the way of views. We did, however, come to a small creek where I was able to test the underwater capabilities of Fuji's FinePix XP10 waterproof camera. It worked quite well.

Jason Snowshoeing in the Clouds     Snow Bridge Over Small Creek

As we neared the White River SnoPark, we could hear the shouts of joy from dozens of children sledding down the many nearby hills. The parking lot had filled up since we started earlier in the morning. Almost everyone was there to sled or only venture a short distance on the trail. We only saw five other people on the trail we hiked. It was nice to be able to have such solitude at such a popular place.

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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.