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Teacup Lake
Gliding through a winter wonderland at Teacup Lake posted on 01/02/2018

Steve Gutmann grew up skiing on Mount Hood, with a family cabin in Government Camp serving as their base of operations since the late 1970s. But when Gutmann came back to the northwest in the 1990s after going to college, the cash-strapped graduate discovered that downhill skiing wasn’t an affordable hobby.

That’s when Gutmann took to Nordic skiing and heading to Teacup Lake Nordic ski area on Mount Hood one mile north of the Mt. Hood Meadows turnoff on Hwy. 35.

“Teacup is definitely our go to,” Gutmann said. “It’s just a fantastic place. I think of it as a family friendly place; it’s just a very warm and welcoming place for everybody.”

The area is operated by the Teacup Lake Nordic Club through a special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service. The volunteer organization utilizes membership fees, trail fees and donations to maintain 20 kilometers of trails, along with a day use cabin and sheltered restrooms.

Paul Blackburn, President of the Teacup Nordic Volunteer Board, noted that the beginning of the area is “shrouded in the mists of time,” but that it dates back about 40 years ago. The area is home to three annual events: hosting a high school race (on Saturday, Jan. 6 this year), a Tea Party featuring free lessons on Sunday, Jan. 7 and the Teacup Classic, offering three levels of racing (15k, 5k and a 2k kids course) and open to all skill levels, on Sunday, Jan. 21.

Blackburn also touted the expanded parking lot (which does require a SnoPark permit), but added that even when the parking lot looks full, there’s more than enough room on the trails.

“Even in this modern era, when it’s just so crowded on the lifts, there might be a lot of people in the parking lot at Teacup, once you get five minutes in you’ve got the forest to yourself,” he said. “There’s a lot of room for everybody, that’s the best thing about it.”

The group also runs youth programs, including a junior development team that has sent skiers to the national championships, and winter sessions for grade schoolers that include playing soccer and frisbee on skis.

Gutmann noted his daughter is part of the Nordic ski team, adding that he decided not to tell his kids about downhill skiing when they were young.

He added that the atmosphere is extremely friendly, where you can ask other skiers about tips and ways to improve and they’re happy to help.

“It’s just that kind of a place,” Gutman said. “It feels like something out of a different time. I think it’s wonderful.”

Dogs and snowshoes are not allowed at Teacup Lake Nordic Ski area. Trail grooming occurs every Monday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. The warming hut is typically open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on grooming days

Skiers can pay by the day ($10) or buy a membership ($75 per year for individuals, $40 per year for high school and full-time college students).

By Garth Guibord/MT

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