Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded
  • Mt Hood Trail Map
  • Vertical (ft)
    4,523 – 7,300 (2,777)
  • Average Snow Fall
    430 inches
  • Lifts (13)
    6 fast quads
    1 quad
  • Ski Season
    late Nov - mid May
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 87
    Longest run – 3 miles
    Advanced/expert - 20/15%
    Intermediate - 50%
    Beginner - 15%

Ski Mt Hood Meadows

The name “Meadows” conjures up thoughts of lots of mellow little runs amongst the grasslands at low elevation, which doesn’t sound very appealing to most downhill skiers and snowboarders. Other than small zones near the two base areas, there is nothing “meadowy” about Mt Hood Meadows so don’t let the name put you off!

Mt Hood Meadows is a medium sized ski area and the acreage is about average for the main western US ski resorts. Weather and conditions can shrink the terrain size rather readily. Wind can close lifts, and extensive avalanche control work is required after a storm because one of the main canyons (for experts) funnels into a choke point.

The Mt Hood Meadows Ski Resort is mostly in sections, and most runs are not particularly long before you get to the lift or have to transport to another area. It is pretty easy to navigate, although you have to keep your eyes peeled in the zone between the 2 sides regarding which base area you’ll end up at. The upper transition between the 2 sides has some flattish spots so snowboarders will need to keep speed.

Lifts

The lifting capacity isn’t adequate for the weekend crowds (especially the Mt Hood Express chair), but otherwise the lift infrastructure at Mt Hood Meadows is very good and there are 6 high speed quad chairs that service most of the terrain. The Blue chair runs parallel to the Mt Hood Express and it’s a good old faithful chair for when the wind is howling. It’s somewhat surprising that the resort didn’t retain some surface lifts, particularly in the upper zones, which would be ideal for the oft windy conditions (the proportion of days the top lift is open is not known).

The area above the main base is open for night skiing (Wednesday to Sunday), which includes some of the terrain parks.

Lift Tickets

The lift tickets at Mt Hood Meadows are renowned for being pricy compared to the other Mt Hood ski resorts. The pricing is dynamic and dependent on how far in advance you purchase them. As more tickets are purchased for a particular day, the price increases. Mid-week lift ticket rates are generally very reasonable.

Mt Hood Meadows Snow and Weather

The Mt Hood weather is a blessing and a curse. Storms come in BIG at Mt Hood and with it comes plenty of snow. Mt Hood Meadows scores 430 inches (10.9 metres) of snow per season on average, which is less than Timberline but more than Skibowl.

As is common to the PNW ski resorts, the snow quality is good when it’s super fresh, but the snow tends to be wetter than that found further inland and it can become Cascade Concrete. The aspect of many of the slopes doesn’t help with retaining the quality of snow. Many of the runs are south to southeast facing, and it’s only the lines near the Heather chair that have a shady aspect. Thankfully the sun doesn’t come out that much during the height of winter to bake the slopes. Also, temperatures are not always kind to Mt Hood, and melt/freeze cycles commonly set up, particularly in the lower terrain serviced by the Hood River Express.

Mt Hood is rather exposed and at least the Meadows Ski Resort is located further east than Timberline, so it’s a bit more protected from the elements. Nevertheless, the wind and weather in general can wreak havoc with lift operations.

Ski Hood for the Beginner

Mt Hood Meadows has very decent terrain for beginners although whilst it’s all at low elevation, it’s located on the side of the ski area that cops the weather, so beginners may want to pick and choose their days. Thankfully complete novices have the protection of a covered magic carpet.

One of the advantages of the beginner skiing at Meadows is the easy progressions across the 4 chair lifts, and that it’s mostly dedicated beginner terrain that’s only shared with the park riders.

Intermediate Skiing Mt Hood Meadows

The intermediate terrain is very good and there are plenty of options for cruising.

Terrain Parks & Pipes

Depending on the time of the season, Mt Hood Meadows has various terrain parks set up along with a superpipe and a mini pipe.

Advanced Skiing Mt Hood Meadows - On-Piste

Supposedly 20% of the trails are dedicated to advanced riders but it doesn’t quite feel like that in reality. The primary lift, the Mt Hood Express, offers several black runs of decent length, otherwise the black runs are mostly rather short. Skillit and Willow at the base of the HRE are typically a mess of icy moguls so you might want to avoid those.

Advanced riders could also tackle the double black runs off Shooting Star Ridge (if snow conditions are good). Drop in before you hit the treeline, as the tree runs further down the ridge are definitely expert territory.

Expert Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Mt Hood Meadows has some challenging and varied expert terrain. Generally with the expert runs the steeps are very short and/or it takes some time and effort for ingress and/or egress, and doing laps takes multiple lifts.

Clark Canyon takes some commitment to get in there, but the usual rule applies that the more work you put in, the higher the likelihood of freshies.

Heather Canyon has lots of different gates to access it, and the top gates offer alpine terrain that’s amazing (unless the wind has ruined the snow). The lower gates offer some very tasty tree skiing that are tight and technical in places, minus any cliffs.

The zone below the Heather chair is even tastier and it’s littered with short cliff bands (not the unrideable kind) that can be avoided if you prefer. A bit of a rite of passage is God’s Wall, which has a 60 degree gradient for a moment, so probably not the area to tackle if it’s icy.

When it’s open, Super Bowl offers highly coveted hike-to-terrain.

Sidecountry and Backcountry

Whilst parts of Heather Canyon and Clark Canyon offer sidecountry-type terrain (in-bounds), there isn’t any true lift-accessed sidecountry access at Mt Hood Meadows, because there are county laws that prohibit you from crossing the ski area boundary. If you want to play in the Mt Hood backcountry, you’ll have to tour right from the bottom.