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Backpacker Magazine – March 2014

Trail Mix: West

Perfect days; Bring Your Skis, and finding solitude in Mt. Hood National Forest.

by: Sarah Stewart

(Photo by Phillip Noll) La Ventana faces southwest, so shoot it in the afternoon
(Photo by Phillip Noll) La Ventana faces southwest, so shoot it in the afternoon

Bring Your: Skis

Mt. St. Helens, Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, WA

No need to choose between hiking and shredding: This Cascades adventure promises both—without permit fees, quotas, or crowds. From early winter until late spring, skirt the busy season and enjoy both a 5.3-mile, quad-burning hike and a sustained, 30-degree ski session (the equivalent of a blue run) in solitude. From the Marble Mountain Sno-Park, bootpack (or skin) 6 miles north, ascending the Swift Ski Trail (#244) under a pine canopy alongside the Worm Flows (ancient, hardened-lava streams from an eruption 8,000 years ago). Don’t miss Chocolate Falls, a 40-foot cascade along Swift Creek at mile 2. At timberline, continue following wooden signposts across open slopes to the crater rim at 8,300 feet. Avoid the cornice—the only portion of this truncated peak known to occasionally slide—and click in to redeem your well-earned turns. Cruise 5 miles across the white tapestry back through the Worm Flows, then hike the final .3 mile across the flat trail to your car. Overnight option Pitch a tent at the campsite near timberline at 4,500 feet (self-issue a permit at the trailhead; free before April). Contact (360) 449-7800 Trip data 




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