Mount Hood towers over the Teacup Lake trail

Skiing the Mount Hood National Forest

Mount Hood National Forest

When the snow starts to melt at your favorite ski resort, there's still time to wax up your skis and head for the Mount Hood National Forest, where downhillers usually find snow on Memorial Day and beyond.

At 11,240 feet, Mount Hood is the highest point in Oregon and the fourth-highest mountain in the Cascades chain.

Timberline Lodge runs the downhill ski area for the national forest and likes to brag that it has the longest ski season in North America. They maintain 41 trails covering all skill levels from beginner to expert. Once you schuss down, nine lifts and a one-passenger Snowcat are available to get you back up the mountain. Timberline says it has the capacity to lift nearly 10,000 people per hour.

For cross-country skiers, the national forest offers nine separate areas, broken down into more than 50 trail segments that range in difficulty from "low-level easy" to high-altitude "extremely difficult."

The Forest is revamping some of its trail system, so check with the rangers before heading out. The Mount Hood Information Center is open seven days a week (except holidays) from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Call them at 503-622-7674. For Timberline Skier Services, call 503-272-3158.

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