Mt. Hood is well known as a skiing destination. With the longest ski season in North America at Timberline Lodge and the largest night skiing in the country at Mt. Hood Skibowl, skiers and snowboarders flock to the flanks of Hood almost year-round. Folks in the know on the mountain are noticing a shift in how people come to recreate though: winter in Mt. Hood may be all about skiing, but summer is for mountain biking.
"It's a great mountain with great surrounding mountains and a lot of great trails around here," said Joel Armstrong, the man behind many of the trails on Mt. Hood.
"I see a lot of skiers that come up here in the summer that are skiing in the morning and they have their mountain bikes on the back of their trucks and they go biking in the afternoon," he said.
Joel got his start riding nearly 30 years ago. For the past 20 years he's made his passion his job, as he's been designing the trails at Mt. Hood Skibowl.
"Skibowl's trails are more racing-oriented. They're faster and they have some great trails that are very challenging with a great variety of terrain."
Currently Skibowl is the only lift-assisted mountain biking location on Mt. Hood, but that will be changing next summer, as Joel is overseeing work on the new mountain bike park that Timberline Lodge is opening. He promises a lot of great variety for riders of all skill levels.
"We're going to have beginner, intermediate and advanced trails. The beginner trails, it could be your first time on a bike almost and you could ride down it with a little bit of training. We'll have some jump trails, some more technical-single track for the advanced rider, just have a bit of something for everybody," he said.
Timberline already has some existing trails and the new infrastructure will greatly enhance their offerings. Joel said riders will really enjoy being able to take Mt. Hood Express public transportation from Government Camp, The Villages of Mt. Hood or even Sandy on up to the mountain and then ride down.
"Ride almost 15 miles and make a great long ride of it," Joel said.
Mt. Hood Express also offers access to another great option, the Sandy Ridge Trail System, which adds another 15 miles of varying biking difficulty to the mix.
Nearby bike support businesses can help you tune up before you head to the trails. Mt. Hood Bicycle opened in Welches earlier this year and can help get your ride in top shape. Otto's Ski and Mountain Bike in Sandy has Trek 2017 bikes for rent if you need one or want to try something different. There's also a tremendous selection of restaurants to choose from so you can refuel after burning a ton of calories on the trail. And check out the nearby lodging options too so you can make it a full weekend (or longer).