Another Reason to Ditch California for Oregon: Same-Day Biking and Skiing on Mount Hood
You have until August 21 to get in your laps on Palmer Glacier, and the bike park will be open into the fall.
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By the beginning of summer, let alone August, ski season is a distant memory unless you’re a traveling ski instructor or wealthy enough to chase fresh powder around the world. However, Timberline Lodge, on the south slope of Oregon’s Mount Hood, is the one exception in North America, spinning its lifts late into the summer every year.
And now, thanks to a new bike park, which opened in 2019, it allows guests to ski and mountain bike all in one day without leaving the resort. If you want to throw in a hat trick, you can hike part of the Pacific Crest Trail, meandering just above Timberline Lodge, a resupply station, and welcome host along the PCT.
Because the lifts run at 7:30 a.m., the option to ski in the morning and then ride the bike park trails in the afternoon is one of the best ways to spend a day in Oregon. California may have its California Double, where people can ski in the mountains and then drive to the beach to surf, but in Oregon, you can ski, bike, and hike all in one day without getting back in your car (and, technically, if you blitzed to the coast, ice-cold waves are waiting for you).
Timberline Lodge, located 60 miles southeast of Portland, boasts one of North America’s longest winter ski seasons, typically starting around mid-November and running through May. During terrific snow seasons, some higher elevation resorts in North America will see late ski seasons that can run into the early summer months. However, Timberline has the advantage of a snowfield, the Palmer Glacier, located at an elevation of 8,500 feet, where summer skiing takes place. The combination of snow, wind, and extreme winter conditions during the winter keeps the Palmer lift from even opening. By summer, however, the Palmer terminals are unburied from the winter snow, while the lower elevation snow has melted for the bike park to prepare for opening.
While snowfall was inconsistent this winter and minimal in February, Timberline got a boost for spring and summer ski conditions thanks to a snowy spring. The first week of April saw 70 inches of snow just at the lodge level, at 6,000 feet. Spring continued to deliver snowfall into May. While Timberline’s snow depth was below historical averages during the winter months, it was above average in April, May, and June. It’s resulted in one of Timberline’s best summers for summer skiing.
While this was good news for those who chase snow year-round, this was excellent news for those who use Timberline to train, as Timberline Lodge is an official training site for the U.S. Ski, Snowboarding, and Freeskiing teams. Timberline operates youth race, freestyle, and adult race camps and has a Freestyle Training Center and public terrain park. A summer ski day is no powder day, however. But it’s worth noting that Timberline applies rock salt during the summer on the Palmer snowfield to create a faster, more skiable surface.
You’ll have until August 21 to get in on snow, but the bike park will be open into the fall (it typically closes by mid-October). However, this year’s spring snowfall meant that while it created great spring and summer skiing conditions, the bike park wouldn’t open until July 26. The snowy spring may have resulted in a delayed bike park opening, but this summer sees more bike trails than ever, thanks to the addition of the B-52 Trail, which is aptly named for its 52 banked turns.
All-day adult passes for the bike park, open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., are $50, while season passes are $249. Summer skiing Lift tickets are $97, which includes access to the public terrain park. The Magic Mile and Palmer chairlifts operate daily from 7:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The Magic Mile Skyride is also open to foot passengers for $20 per person or $69 for a family of 4.