Mount Hood Meadows
Mount Hood Meadows is the largest ski resort on Mount Hood. Spanning 2150 acres along the southeastern slope, the ski area boasts a vertical of 2777 feet. The elevation at the bottom of the lowest chair is 4523 feet, while the height at the top of the Cascade Express is 7300 feet. If you’re willing to make the hike, there’s another 1700 vertical available at the top of the Super Bowl.
The Meadows receives an average of 430 inches (10.9 meters) each year. Snow conditions on the mountain can vary however, ranging from great swathes of champagne powder to ice storms. Pay attention to the forecasts for best results.
The Mountain and Trails
MHM has 87 named trails to explore across the park. The difficulty mix of the trails breaks down to 15 percent novice, 50 percent intermediate, 20 percent advanced, and 15 percent expert. The mountain is easy to move around and the lift layout is easy to read. There are eleven total lifts in the system, with six high-speed quads and five double chairs. The longest chair ride is the Blue Double that runs parallel to the Mount Hood Express quad. It takes 10 minutes to make the ascent versus the 4.5 minutes that the Express takes.
Novice skiers will have a ball near the main lodge. Three lifts will take you to trails of varying difficulty. Start with Buttercup and the MH Express/Blue Double, which lead to gentle groomers. Once you’re comfortable there, move on to the Vista Express for some fun steeps and open terrain skiing.
Intermediates will find some great open bowl skiing at the end of the Cascade and Shooting Star Express lifts. Stadium Express leads to a terrific steep (Pipeline), and the Hood River Express chair just lets you get into all sorts of fun with tree lined groomers and some deft glade skiing.
There’s one place that expert skiers go when skiing the Meadows. Through the access gates and into the canyons. Heather and Clark Canyon are some of the best open bowl skiing in the Cascades and the Super Bowl is worth the hike up mountain. For the best glades, head through the lower gates into the double black diamond Private Reserve. While you’re there, don’t neglect the intense drop ins at the Cliffs and Curtains.
For freestylers, there are five terrain parks and two half pipes. The Zoo is a great progression park with easy jumps and gentle rollers. The other parks in increasing difficulty are the Shipyard, Fireweed, Forest Park and Shooting Star. Each has their own line of jibs, jumps, and rails for boarders and skiers to find their lines. For halfpipe fun, there is the minipipe and the 18-foot Superpipe to play on.
Bottom Lining It
The Meadows is a good place to ski, but it can get crowded. Lift lines in the afternoons can get lengthy despite the high-speed quads. During snowstorms, the lifts are sometimes shut down. Despite this, Mount Hood Meadows is one of the best ski destinations in Oregon simply because the terrain is so varied. It’s easy to dodge the crowds if you’re willing to get up early on the weekend. The prices for lift tickets are more expensive than the other Hood ski areas, but you definitely get what you pay for.