Late December Hiking

General discussions on hiking in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest
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frogon
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Joined: November 30th, 2019, 9:55 pm

Late December Hiking

Post by frogon » December 1st, 2019, 10:16 am

Hey guys, I'm thinking about booking a 5 day trip to Portland the last week of December to see the city and do a couple day hikes. I have never been to the area and I'd like some suggestions for snowy winter hikes. I have been snowshoeing before and would love to go again. I was thinking of things near Mt Hood that are medium difficulty and 4-8 mile, but I'm unsure of which roads will be open and which trailheads will be accessible. I saw that there's a bus that goes on highway 26 but it looks kind of a pain to get to from downtown, so I'm considering renting a car and driving out.

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adamschneider
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Re: Late December Hiking

Post by adamschneider » December 1st, 2019, 4:07 pm

Highway 26 is maintained in the winter -- and there are a number of decent trailheads along that road --but you need to have 4WD or carry tire chains to drive up to Hood, so doing it with a rental isn't practical unless you spring for a jeep.

The Mt. Hood Express bus is a really good option, IF you can get yourself to Sandy.

By the way, note that the peak snow depth in the Cascades is around April 1. Late December is not necessarily going to have the greatest snowshoeing conditions. Unless there's a huge storm right before you arrive, you MIGHT just be hiking on hard snow and ice.

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teachpdx
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Re: Late December Hiking

Post by teachpdx » December 2nd, 2019, 11:21 am

The Mt. Hood Express bus isn't as much of a pain as it seems, as the connection in Sandy is timed for the arriving bus from Gresham. Transit directions from Google are accurate for the route, just give yourself at least 10 mins at Gresham as the MAX can sometimes get delayed. Plan a minimum of 2.5 hours from downtown Portland, and more if the roads are snow-covered on the mountain, or weekend traffic, or both. I take it up the mountain a couple times each winter in lieu of driving.

There are some good options for snowshoeing from Government Camp that will be within your mileage criteria... from Skibowl you can do the Mirror Lake/Tom Dick and Harry Mountain loop, and from Government Camp you can either make a loop out of some of the trails above the town, or do a lollipop loop down to Trillium Lake. And while Timberline Lodge will definitely have deeper snow, it does not have any snowshoeing areas that are worthwhile.

But I agree that December can be iffy on snow conditions. You'll want to keep an eye on it and have a plan B if it's not good.
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walrus
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Re: Late December Hiking

Post by walrus » December 2nd, 2019, 7:21 pm

Seconds/thirds to all of the above.

If you rent a vehicle, Twin Lakes and Tamanawas Falls are nice as snow hikes or snowshoes and are right off well-maintained highways.

frogon
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Re: Late December Hiking

Post by frogon » December 3rd, 2019, 10:00 pm

Awesome!! thanks guys!! I think I'll do Mirror Lake\Tom Dick Harry Mountain, and then depending on how I feel for the second hike either Twin Lakes\Palmateer Point or combo Tamanawas Falls and Trillium Lake.

I think I'll end up renting a car, I'll have a rest day between the two hikes and I'm thinking about going to relax on a Pacific Coast beach :)

Aimless
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Re: Late December Hiking

Post by Aimless » December 4th, 2019, 11:21 am

frogon wrote:
December 3rd, 2019, 10:00 pm
I'm thinking about going to relax on a Pacific Coast beach :)
Bring a full suit of rain clothes and be prepared for high surf and sideways rain! Of course, it could also be very nice weather, but don't count on it. :)

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BigBear
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Re: Late December Hiking

Post by BigBear » December 4th, 2019, 12:52 pm

If the beach is your destination, you should ask Santa for William Sullivan's coastal hiking guide (the blue book). It offers far more information than you could hope for here on the blog for a general "where should I hike" question. Things like: which part of the coastline do you plan on visiting (highway 101 is 350 miles of slow driving from Astoria to Brookings), how far do you want to hike, how much elevation gain, what do you want to see when you're there, etc.

Have fun.

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