TRAIL OF THE MONTH
Inspiration Loop Trail
Venture through some of Oregon’s newest designated wilderness on Mount Hood’s remote northern flanks on cross-country skis or snowshoes.
Why it’s great: Venture through some of Oregon’s newest designated wilderness on Mount Hood’s remote northern flanks. From the Cooper Spur Sno-Park, begin a gentle 1.2-mile climb up Cloud Cap Road (Forest Road 3512). Pass an old quarry strewn with sheared, plate-shaped stones before descending to the right on a side trail (012), into thick woods. Blue diamond–marked firs help keep cross-country travelers on track, but prepare to break trail through deep untracked snow. A poorly signed junction with Forest Road 3511 provides a cutoff back to Cloud Cap, making a 6-mile loop. Or continue on a long, lonely curve around Inspiration Loop, taking in the silhouettes of Mounts Rainier and Adams, before arriving at Inspiration Point, set beneath Hood’s looming summit. Buckle down ski boots and take a fun schuss down Cloud Cap Road to the sno-park, breezing through glades peppered with bleached and burned snags—ghostly reminders of the 2009 Gnarl Ridge wildfire.
Don’t Forget: A good map. The 2012 Mount Hood Cross Country Ski and Snowshoe Trails map provides an indispensible overview.
Post-hike watering hole: Crooked Tree Tavern. Set inside the remodeled Cooper Spur Mountain Resort, this knotty pine and cedar–decked pub opened last summer, serving Mountain Shadow beef burgers, steak frites, and sturdy Logsdon Organic Farmhouse Ales. 541-352-6037
Trailhead directions: From Hood River go south on Highway 35 for 13.5 miles, and turn right onto Cooper Spur Road. Travel 10 miles, passing Cooper Spur Mountain Resort, and turn right onto Cloud Cap Road. Continue 1.5 miles to the sno-park. Sno-park permit required.