Over the creek and through the woods to Mirror Lake we go.
To ring in the 2013, this year I strapped on my snowshoes and headed up into the Cascades for some reflection time in the shadow of Mt. Hood at Mirror Lake.
Crunching through the packed snow, I followed the trail as it weaved through the dense, snow-draped evergreens of Oregon’s northwest mountain forests. Small breaks in the trees revealed the rolling valley below as the trail climbed 780 feet to the high cascades lake.
Opening like a curtain call for the New Year, the trail unfolded onto a loop path circling Mirror Lake. To the northwest, Mt. Hood bared its top against the contrasting sapphire sky – the color so rich; it looked Photoshopped for a postcard.
As I rounded the lake, deep shadows stretched from the neighboring peaks (Tom, Dick & Harry) and reflected a dark hue of the sky again the wind, crusted swifts and frozen waves of the usually lush, lake. But like hope, Mt. Hood stood brilliant white from every viewpoint leading hikers through its majestic terrain.
From Portland: drive east on Highway 26 toward Government Camp. Four miles before the ski town, the trailhead will be on your right hand side. In the winter, park at the West Snow Bowl parking lot and follow the snow bank trail for ½ mile west along the side of the highway to reach the start of the snowshoe trail.
From the trailhead to the lake and back, the hike is 2.9 miles long. To extend the hike, from the lake loop trail stay right and continue up to Tom, Dick & Harry Mountain for more views of Mt. Hood and the Zigzag Valley on a clear day.
This is heavily used trail, so I recommend getting there early and finishing the snowshoe hike before the lunch hour so to be able to enjoy some solitude at Mirror Lake.