Mt Hood hiking in May

Trip recommendations, current conditions, and other trail related Q&A
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krisro
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Mt Hood hiking in May

Post by krisro » March 25th, 2019, 9:12 am

Hello! I hiked in the area last August but am thinking of visiting in early May. What will conditions be for Mt Hood hiking - mostly snow/somewhat clear?? I was hoping to go to Elk Meadows area but am wondering if the trail is doable at all at that time of year. Very much appreciate getting an idea of what I would be looking at - snowshoes necessary? - and if there are different optimum mid-spring hikes of 6 miles or so that people recommend.

Thanks!

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adamschneider
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Re: Mt Hood hiking in May

Post by adamschneider » March 25th, 2019, 9:48 am

Early May really isn't the time to be hiking in the Cascades; it's melt season. You can try to snowshoe it if you want to, but it'll be wet and sloppy and there will likely be patches with no snow at all.

At that time of year, the Columbia River Gorge is a much better bet. Hamilton Mountain or Dog Mountain are both great hikes in the 6-7 mile range.

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teachpdx
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Re: Mt Hood hiking in May

Post by teachpdx » March 25th, 2019, 10:09 am

May is only plausible on Hood in super low snow years (2015 comes to mind, when I was at Paradise Park in early May). The snowpack this year is slightly above normal, so even most of June will be marginal on most of the mountain.

I wouldn't attempt Elk Meadows in May (even with snowshoes) due to the crossing of Newton Creek with all of the snowmelt.

I would recommend Salmon River for a good Mt. Hood-adjacent, lower elevation hike. You may also be able to get into places like Burnt Lake (still snowy but probably only boots required).

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drm
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Re: Mt Hood hiking in May

Post by drm » March 25th, 2019, 1:29 pm

FYI, as a couple points of info, both the snotel on the south side of Hood and the snow basin map at https://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/ftpref/da ... update.pdf
show a tad below average snowpack. We had a cold February, but it started well below average and was colder than it was snowy. Most of Oregon is above average, though surprisingly, Washington is not.

krisro
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Re: Mt Hood hiking in May

Post by krisro » March 25th, 2019, 6:32 pm

adamschneider wrote:
March 25th, 2019, 9:48 am
Early May really isn't the time to be hiking in the Cascades; it's melt season. You can try to snowshoe it if you want to, but it'll be wet and sloppy and there will likely be patches with no snow at all.

So good to know! Many thanks. Are there higher eleveation spots that have firm snow for hiking or snowshoeing (I know that is sometimes true here around Vancouver BC)? Otherwise I'll wait until summer. But also would love to hear any top Mt Hood snowshoe trail picks for next year.

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adamschneider
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Re: Mt Hood hiking in May

Post by adamschneider » March 25th, 2019, 7:47 pm

krisro wrote:
March 25th, 2019, 6:32 pm
So good to know! Many thanks. Are there higher eleveation spots that have firm snow for hiking or snowshoeing (I know that is sometimes true here around Vancouver BC)? Otherwise I'll wait until summer. But also would love to hear any top Mt Hood snowshoe trail picks for next year.
I guess you COULD snowshoe from Timberline Lodge or one of the Cascade passes in early May if you really want to, but honestly, you may as well stay in Canada if you're looking for a huge expanse of snow. If I were you, I'd either check out our lower-elevation trails or wait until summer.

For future reference, in my opinion, the best snowshoeing season is usually February or March. There's tons of snow (possibly even powder, if you're lucky), and the weather is usually nicer than mid-winter, with much more daylight.

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drm
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Re: Mt Hood hiking in May

Post by drm » March 26th, 2019, 6:37 am

krisro wrote:
March 25th, 2019, 6:32 pm
Are there higher elevation spots that have firm snow for hiking or snowshoeing.
The firmness depends totally on the weather. Cool days and mornings have firm snow. Warmth for enough hours softens it making snowshoes preferred. Altitude has some effect on this but so does aspect: southern slopes obviously soften in the sun. Warm spells can also make creek crossings a challenge.

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Re: Mt Hood hiking in May

Post by Aimless » March 26th, 2019, 9:00 am

In early May I would be looking for hikes in the Columbia Gorge or the Cascade foothills, not on Mt. Hood proper.

Six weeks from now most trails would normally be clear up to maybe 3300 feet or so. Above that I'd guess a transition zone of several hundred feet, with intermittent snow, depending on location, tree cover, and sun exposure. Normally, before you reached 4000 feet you'd definitely see continuous snow cover. If April is especially warm and sunny you could move those numbers upslope by maybe 300 or 400 feet. If April is colder than usual, we could be seeing (wet, heavy) snow accumulation for another month. Under trees the snow would be what is affectionately called "Cascades concrete", and not fun to walk on. Microspikes would be more appropriate than snowshoes.

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