The Mt. Hood Meadows Nordic Center is usually my first trip of the season. It’s kind of the miniature golf of cross-country skiing. No need to worry about getting lost in the backcountry here! Just plenty of well-groomed terrain that loops around in a non-intimidating way. If you’re up for a modest climb, there’s a small waterfall worth checking out. There’s also “the meadow”, a wide-open area where you can really get your “kick-and-glide” grove on (and a great place to knock back a nip of Schnapps). Weather permitting, you can even have a little picnic.
Teacup is a bit more challenging, but still manageable. Again, lots of groomed trails and nice winter vistas. Even better is I've never experienced a crowd – only the occasional swoosh of fellow cross-country and skate-skiers.
Pack a lunch, because at Teacup, there’s also a warming hut where you can hunker down around a fire. Teacup is maintained by volunteer organizations so make sure to bring about $8.00 cash for the honor-system donation.
A Few Ski Tips:
If you leave in the morning before 10:00 AM, for both Mt. Hood Meadows and Teacup, take Hwy. 35 on the way up. That way you avoid the Portland ski bus traffic on Hwy. 26.
Remember to purchase a Sno-Park pass (daily and seasonal passes are available)
To keep the muscles warm, bring a flask of something warm, yummy and spiked. I recommend hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps, or spiced apple cider with Tuaca. (Really, the liquor store dude told me this was good – and he was right!)
And if you need a reasonably priced flask, you can find one at Edelwiess, an authentic German deli in Portland.