|| Respect History:
All About the Tilly
and Cloud Cap
The Tilly Jane Ski
Trail provides direct access to the Cloud Cap/Tilly Jane area,
district. The area is immensely popular with backcountry
recreational enthusiasts and as a result the north side of Mt. Hood
is known as the backcountry side of the mountain.
The Tilly Jane/Cloud Cap area
is part of , containing some of the oldest structures on Mt. Hood.
The Cloud Cap Inn is entered in the national register both for its
importance as the country's oldest high alpine lodge and for its
architecture. The early development of this area is an interesting
story of the grit, sense of adventure and love of the mountain of
many of northwest Oregon's early settlers.
The Oregon Nordic Club is now
managing Tilly Jane. Please see the Tilly Jane
section of the ONC website for additional information
regarding the history of the area, restoration projects and making
reservations for use of either the Guard Station or the A-Frame
Tilly Jane --
where did the name originate? Tilly Jane was the
nickname of Mrs. William Ladd of Portland. Her husband, William, and
C.E.S. Wood of Portland bought the Mt. Hood Trail and Wagon Road Co.
in the Spring of 1889, renamed the firm the Mt. Hood Stage Co., and
promptly began improvements that led to the Wagon Rd. (see below).
History of the
The Cloud Cap Inn was built in the summer of
1889 for use in the summer. In February 1890, Will and
Doug Langille skied to the Inn on homemade skis. This trip was
followed by many other successful winter trips and this early
exploration enticed others to make the same journey. The area
quickly became popular for backcountry enthusiasts who liked the
challenge of making it up the mountain under their own resolve.
Summer access was via horse drawn stage up the 1889 wagon
road which is mostly used for skiing today. In 1905
automobiles were able to make their way to the Cloud Cap Inn.
In 1910 the Snowshoe Club Cabin was built for year round
use. The Snowshoe Club is just across the hill top from the
Cloud Cap Inn.
The Amphitheatre and American Legion Cook Shed were
constructed in the 1920s. The Tilly Jane Ski Trail was used by
American Legion climbing groups in the 20s and it is very possible
that it was also used earlier by Native Americans and early settlers
in the Hood River Valley. High alpine meadows were often used
by valley sheepherders and the Tilly Jane Ski Trail is dotted with
open meadows that may have enticed them to make the trek.
The Tilly Jane Guard Station was built in 1934 and initially
it received seasonal use for backcountry access and fire protection.
The Ski Warming Hut (also know as the Tilly Jane Ski Cabin) was
constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the late
1930s. A local historian,
Mr. Lewis McArthur, stated that the local Crag Rats led
the1920 American Legion sponsored climbers and that they favored the
Tilly Jane Ski Trail because it provided immediate entry into the
backcountry and a more direct approach to the mountain.
Civilian Conservation Corps
In the winter of 1938-1939 Percy Bucklin, Bill Cochran,
Harold Wells and Walter Applegren, members of the Crag Rats, marked
a wider swath along the existing ski trail. In 1939 the
Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) cleared out the Tilly Jane
Ski Trail and they also built the Ski Warming Hut (which is also
known as the Tilly Jane Ski Cabin). The building of the
trail fit easily into the CCC program, readily available labor and a
moderate budget for equipment. Single and two man falling saws
and axes and wedges were used predominantly in the woods for falling
trees and for limbing and bucking to clear the route. What
earth moving may have been necessary would have been done by hand
using pick axes and shovels.
Tilly Jane Ski
Unique Element of the District
The Tilly Jane Ski Trail climbs 1900 vertical feet in 2.7
miles to reach the Recreation Area. The distance by Cloud Cap
Road is far greater - about 10 miles. The trail climbs gently,
without switchbacks, up a series of unique steps and flats to a
broad ridge-top with a number of open parkland settings before it
reaches the Cloud Cap/Tilly Jane Recreation Area.
The Tilly Jane Ski Trail provides a direct link to the
Ski Warming Hut, the Tilly Jane Guard Station, the Snowshoe Club
Cabin and the Cloud Cap Inn. Today as in the past, virtually
all snow season traffic to the Cloud Cap Tilly Jane Historic
Recreation Area, Cooper Spur, Eliot Glacier and parts beyond is via
the Tilly Jane Ski Trail. People have the option of descending
the Tilly Jane Ski Trail, the 1889 wagon road, the 1924 road or if
via more treacherous routes through the backcountry areas along the
Tilly Jane creek. However, the Tilly Jane Ski Trail is cut wide for
ski descent and is noted by many for its aesthetic lay and pitches
developed by the early skiers who crafted
Natural Integrity and Historic
Setting Remain Unchanged
The trailís integrity is very high - it remains virtually
unchanged since it was brushed out and widened in 1939. The
sweeping, open vistas across Mt. Hood and nearby ridges and peaks
are virtually the same as they were when past visitors experienced
them. The old growth forest and open natural parkland on the ridge
crest followed by the trail are intact except for the most visible
feature - the clear cutting that was performed at the Cooper
Spur Ski Area to create the 50-acre ski area. Other than that
there are no visible areas along the trail cleared by human
intervention. Instead, there is an overwhelming quiet and
sense of peace that pervades the area. This sense of peace
connects us with the early explorers who heard the same birds and
saw the same flora and fauna without any mechanical intrusions or
visibly altered landscapes. The Tilly Jane Ski Trail is directly and
closely linked to the Cloud Cap Tilly Jane Historic
Recreation Area which is already listed on the National Register of
Historic Places. The trail deserves recognition as an
historic important feature of the Cloud Cap Tilly Jane Historic Area
on Mt. Hood. the trail should be included in the National
Register as a piece of Oregonís past, present and future for all
generations to enjoy in its historic
Cloud Cap Inn
Built in 1889, the Cloud Cap
Inn is the countryís oldest high alpine ski cabin. It was built on
the site of the first "season long" public resort at timberline
(1883), a tent camp hosted by Mrs. David Cooper, of the Cooper
Family which gave its name to the distinctive ridge above the
The inn, built at an elevation
of 5837', was constructed of amabilis fir, cut from a site about 2.5
miles below the inn and hauled up the mountain by teams of horses.
William Marcy Widden, a Portland architect drew the plans.
read of the building of the Cloud Cap is to come acquainted with the
stories of people whose names delineate many of the features on Mt.
Hood: Capt. Henry Coe and Oscar Stranahan, who with David Cooper led
some of the first explorations on the north side of Mt. Hood, the
engineer Newton Clark, Dr. and Mrs. Perry Barrett, avid hikers from
Hood River, or the Elliott Brothers and others who discovered Lost
Lake, or James Langille, who was the construction manager.
For additional information and
pictures of Cloud Cap, visit Mt.
Hood History. For interesting drawings of what Cloud Cap
might have been, see Mountain
Architecture, by Thomas Deering.
What is know known as the
Wagon Rd. Ski Trail follows the bed of the historic wagon road built
in 1889 to provide wagon access to the Cloud Cap Inn. Prior to 1889,
the road from Hood River stopped at the Toll Bridge on the Middle
Fork of the Hood River.
The road was a difficult one
to build -- and a hard one to drive. Chinese laborers graded the
road by hand, included an infamously steep 22% grade known as "China
Fill" on a curve just below the inn. The grade was hard on horses at
the end of the 6-hour drive up from Hood River. Early automobiles
did not fare as well, often overheating and breaking down on the
The Wagon Rd. Trail starts below Cloud Cap, and
cuts down the mountain, intersecting the the Cloud Cap Rd. (#3512)
in numerous places before connecting with Rd. 3511.