At 3,900 to 4,400 feet in elevation, Teacup is the highest and largest cross-country ski area within a two-hour drive of the metropolitan region.
Most years, skiing starts in November. In 2002, Teacup Lake was ready for skiers on Veterans Day. In 2003, the warm weather in December delayed full operation of Teacup until Jan. 7, 2024. Skiing likely will persist into April, possibly May.
Teacup has “one of the longest seasons in the world for venues at moderate elevation,’’ said Noel Johnson, president of the nonprofit organization.
And it’s hugely popular, with more than 25,000 skier visits per season, and multiple U.S. Ski-certified programs, races and events. Karl Andersson, Teacup’s head technical coach, has trained generations and is a Mount Hood icon, Johnson said.
Teacup Nordic has 8,700 followers between Facebook and Instagram.
Starting on Jan, 7, when the snow finally arrived in feet at Mount Hood, staff at Teacup groomed 11 of 12 days. That was 97 grooming hours and 313 miles, a little more than 12 hours per day on average, said Jason Lemieux, Teacup general manager.
Here are four key facts about Teacup Nordic:
- Highway 35 is constantly plowed, so getting to Teacup even hours after a big snow dump is not a problem. Teacup has a 150- to 200-car parking lot, depending how tightly skiers park their vehicle.
- The trails are groomed Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, so the labor-intensive work of breaking trail is almost never an issue. Both classic and skate skiers get conditions as good as possible, considering west-side snow tends to be wet and gets icy later in the season.
- Teacup is all cross-country skiing all the time. There are no snowshoers, snowmobiles or sharing the trails with walkers and pets. The trail network is about equally split between beginner, intermediate and expert terrain.
- There’s a cozy warming shelter. The Ray Garey Cabin has a wood stove and is a nice spot to warm up or eat a snack or lunch out of the weather.
Lemieux said Teacup users often skate and classic ski during the same trip.
“Many skiers spend half their time skating and half their time classic skiing, so it really depends on the conditions and the specific day,’’ he said “My guess is that on a busy weekend day we have about 75 percent classic skiers and 25 percent skate skiers.’’
Teacup operates the trail system under a special-use permit from the Mount Hood National Forest.