Snowshoe to the top of Mount Hood's Palmer Ski Lift

Rate this Adventure Timberline Lodge

For those who want to experience Mount Hood hands on but are not quite ready for a technical climb to the summit, the trek up to the top of the Palmer Ski lift is the perfect balance of adventurous day and sane objective.

Ending just a few thousand feet shy of the mountain top, Palmer Lift doesn't start operating until most ski resorts are nearing their close. This leaves most of the mountain nearly uninhabited and ideal for exploring with close up views of the complex summit above and well into Oregon down below.

For those interested in an early day adventure, sunrise over the lower stretches of the mountain is more than worth starting out in the dark of morning!

And with over 2,500' of elevation gain, the trek up to the top of Palmer is not just great for views, it's a solid workout too!

Starting out at the Timberline Lodge, follow the snowshoe trail as it starts up the mountain, sticking to the snowcat tracks and off of the groomed snow where skiers and snowboarders are likely to come zipping down.

After about a mile and 1,000 vertical feet, you'll see the Silcox Hut to your far right and the start of the Palmer Ski lift just beyond it. In winter and much of spring, Palmer is completely snowed over and closed, leaving just climbers and ski-mountaineers to share the mountain with. Cross over to the ski lift and continue to climb.

After about a thousand more feet, you'll reach another, smaller ski-lift building which is a great place to take your final break -- you're almost there!

Ascend 600 more feet up the steepest part of the climb until the ski lift poles start to group together and at last, the building (which is hidden beyond a small rise) comes into view. Celebrate with a long break while taking in the view of the mountain below and Southern Oregon in the distance. When you're done, zip on down plunge stepping, glissading (sliding) or on skis if you brought them!

Follow the lift back to the hut before crossing over out of the ski area and back to the parking lot where I suggest rewarding yourself with a visit to the Timberline Lodge buffet.

Pack List

While Palmer ends far short of the mountain top, weather can be quite severe and change suddenly so pack for a solid day out.

  • 2-3+ liters of water
  • Snacks for several hours out
  • Multiple layers including wind & snow shells
  • Gloves, alpine glasses, hat & face mask
  • Solid winter boots or insulated hiking boots
  • Some sort of traction system (snowshoes, microspikes, crampons)
  • Trekking poles, map, compass, headlamp, first aid kit
  • The rest of the 10 essentials

Be sure to check the weather and climbing reports in the wilderness center building before heading out.

Show More
RT Distance 4 Miles
Elevation Gain 2560 Feet
Activities Snowshoeing, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Food Nearby
Scenic

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