Winter in Portland. With the wrong attitude, it can be a dreary time, full of rain, sleet, and generally crummy weather. But winter is also an opportunity for residents of Portland to get out and try something new, to explore their beautiful state in unique ways. All it takes is the right attitude.
Portland might be famous for its restaurants, book stores, and coffee shops, but the city also happens to be located in the middle of a recreational hub, with plenty of opportunities to play outside all year round. So here’s our list of greatest winter hits around Portland.
Ski on Mount Hood
Located just two hours from downtown, Mount Hood is a great ski destination. There are several ski resorts to pick from, Mount Hood Meadows, Timberline, and Mount Hood Ski Bowl all offer a great ski experience, with awesome terrain for everyone from beginners to experts. We’d highly recommend renting ski equipment ahead of time at a Portland ski shop. It helps cut down on the hassle and panic that often strikes as everyone tries to get their lift tickets and gear together at the resort. And a good ski shop can help you out with information about conditions at each resort, and let you know about any good deals on lift tickets while they work on your rentals or do some ski repair.
If you’ve never tried skiing before, we highly recommend taking a lesson. Most mountains offer a “learn to ski” package with a lift ticket and lesson at a discounted rate. Use skiing as the perfect excuse to get out of the city and beat the wintertime blues.
Skiing sounds a little too extreme for you? Still dealing with PTSD from that one time your dad pushed you down a double black diamond when you were six? Try tubing. Mount Hood Ski Bowl has an awesome tubing setup with fast tows, and fun runs. Tubing is an affordable way to get out and enjoy the snow with the whole family. There’s no real skill involved, just hold on tight! And there’s no need to get special or expensive gear either. Just make sure you’ve got good gloves and snow pants and you’ll be ready to go.
Cross Country Skiing
If you’re not the gravity-fueled adrenaline junky type, but you still want to get outside and exercise, you really need to try cross country skiing. Cross country skiing is the closest you can get to running in the winter, without the cold wet feet, and frozen hands. There are plenty of shops in Portland that can get you set up with gear, and point you toward their favorite trails.
We recommend beginners head over to Trillium Lake. The cross country ski trails there are groomed weekly and offer great views of majestic Mount Hood towering over the frozen lake. There are plenty of short, easy loops here, and nothing is too steep or challenging. For more experienced skiers, the Teacup Lake area is a great upgrade. There are over 12 miles of groomed trail there, with beautiful views and some steeper and more interesting terrain. No matter where you choose to explore, cross country skiing is the perfect way to explore the beauty around Portland in the winter.
Fat Biking is to mountain biking what cross country skiing is to running. It’s the perfect winter alternative for anyone who likes to spend their summer on two wheels. Plenty of Portland bike shops rent fat bikes in the winter. Just make sure yours is properly set up with warm pogies, and that you’ve got a bike helmet that fits well over a thin hat or headband.
There is plenty of awesome fat biking around Portland. Two of our favorite spots are Opal Creek and Mirror Lake. Both offer groomed fat bike trails.
Just remember, fat biking is very conditions dependent. If it’s just snowed a few inches it’s best to wait a day or two until trails can get packed back in or groomed again, otherwise, you’re going to be walking your bike. The other thing to pay attention to is your tire pressure. How much air is in your tires makes a huge difference to how well they’ll float in soft snow. If your tires are getting bogged down or leaving ruts, let some air out – your calves and other trail users will thank you.
So there you have it, stop complaining about the snow and counting the days till summer. Portland is a winter paradise if you’re willing to get out and explore. So whether your preferred method of transport is a tube, a fat bike, or skis, there’s something new for everyone to try in the winter.