Timberline Trail

Timberland Trail

Timberline Trail

Elev. Gain: 
10,700 ft.
High: 
7,560 ft.
Where:
Government Camp, OR
Distance: 
40.00 miles (round trip)
Difficulty: 
Strenuous
Rating: 
5
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Features

Overview

Official Tmber Route coming soon. Until then, enjoy this fantastic trail description and trip report from Nathan (view his original report here).

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We started the 40.2 mile trip at Timberline Lodge, deciding to hike counter-clockwise. My wife was 6 mos. pregnant and carrying a light pack. We were accompanied by a friend of ours Tamara and our Chesapeake Bay retriever Milly.

We found the Green Trails map to be the most useful: Mt. Hood Climbing / Timberline Trail Map #462S

Elevation gain: 10,734 Min/Max Elevation: 3,322/7,560

Day 1: We started hiking around 9am, there was some snow @ 5800ft, but the trail was mostly visible. The views were stunning as you made your way past the resort towards Zigzag Canyon. Soon after crossing the Zigzag River (@ mi. 3.25) we left the main trail, Timberline Tr. 600 / PCT Tr. 2000, and took a slight diversion going right on Tr. 757. This had us gain some elevation up into Paradise Park. The decision to head up this way was well worth it. It didn't add any distance, the wildflowers were spectacular and gave you sweeping views of the Park with Mt. Hood towering above you. This would be an ideal hike in/out overnight in the future. We started to descend from Paradise Park, rejoining Timberline Tr. 600 / PCT Tr. 2000 just after mi. 6. You continue to hike down the ridge with grand views of the Sandy River below. This is your first of many larger river crossings. While this river was easily navigable, others become increasingly difficult as melt-off progresses through the day. (Note: PCT Tr. 2000 continues left here following the Sandy River. Timberline Tr. 600 splits off and goes up the embankment to the right.) We continued on towards Ramona Falls after crossing the Sandy, which was to be our camp for the night. There are a number of sites in this area, the best being uphill from the falls or off the main trail on the right prior to the falls.

Day 2: Leaving Ramona Falls you start gaining elevation immediately. This takes you up and around Yocum Ridge. Tr. 771 deviates off the main giving you unmatched views of Hood, the Sandy River, Muddy Fork, Reid and Sandy glaciers; however this in and out would add an intense 10 miles to your day. We left that for another time. At mi. 13.5 you come to your second river crossing. The Muddy Fork is also quite navigable with only one small tree bridge, 5 ft across, w/ some quicker flow to cross. Here is a great spot to fully reload your water supply as water is a bit scarce for the next handful of miles. You hike west of the Muddy Fork slowly gaining elevation all the way towards Bald Mtn. There's a small gap in the saddle just past mi. 15 if you're wanted to take a mile off your hike. However, the most southwestern point of Bald Mtn. is a great place to eat lunch and take in the views. Once heading back towards Mt. Hood you'll have 4 mi. until you hit the McNeil Point turnoff. A great trail to hit, which supposedly loops back toward the main trail. We spoke to a couple of folks who spent the night up there and they applauded the views of Glisan Glacier and Hood; they came in from Cathedral Ridge though and were not through hiking the Timberline Trail. We forewent the hike as we needed water. You'll come across many small streams between mi. 18 and 20, with the best coming after mi. 19. The wild flowers through here were abundant and beautiful. (Note: between mi. 18 and 19 some parts of the trail have been washed out due to small slides/erosion. The soil is sandy in nature and one can still get around, but hard to know how this will be possible in the years to come without trail repair.) Continuing on you'll start to make your way into Cairn Basin. This is where the enormous burn of 2011 starts to be seen (known as the Dollar Lake Fire). Walking down into the charred behemoths you'll find an old shelter on the south side of the trail. We hiked directly south, upslope, to find our campsite for the night.

Day 3: Leaving Cairn Basin you start to slowly round the north side of Mt. Hood. The landscape changes dramatically, moving from the wet western slope of the mountain, things become a lot more dry and of course you are hiking largely through the burn. It's a bit eerie and starkly beautiful. At mi. 21 you head down into Wy'east Basin (Vista Ridge). You'll have your first of a few water crossings at about .2 mi. This is a good day to get an early start as to not deal with the increasing snow melt later in the day. The biggest being Coe Branch Creek. There are a number of trails off to your left (north) that run into the T.T. prior to the small Dollar Lake Trail. Only a .2 mi. hike off the main trail, it's one of the few lakes you'll encounter on Mt. Hood. Past Dollar Lake is Elk Cove a relatively flat and charred section of the T.T. that runs you down to Coe Glacier's outlet, Coe Branch Creek, mi. 23.5. We had to scoot across a makeshift log bridge and get creative on getting the dog across. The next 4 mis. was very pleasant hiking. Just past mi. 27 you'll start to pass the Langille Glacier and Crags. Here's were things get a bit interesting as the trail was washed out though a flood and debris slide below the Eliot Glacier, creating a 150 chasm. At 27.5 mi. you'll take the secondary climber's trail up the NW ridge overlooking the Eliot Glacier and across to Cooper Spur. There is a shelter across the glacial chasm just below Cooper Spur. Hike up the NW ridge until you are approximately at the same elevation as the shelter. Pick your path down the extremely loose scree slope and cross the lower glacier basin to the other side. You'll see cairns indicating a decent trail up, although still loose in nature. From the shelter we continued to hike and find camp just above the Lamberson Spur, just above Gnarl Ridge mi. 30. This was our highest point hiking and camping, just below 7,600 ft. Beautiful views here looking off to the east. There was a bit more snow through this area and while trail finding wasn't too difficult, it was important to pay attention. We filtered water from water running off of Newton Clark Glacier.

Day 4: We woke up with the sun early. Hiking down along Gnarl Ridge, looking down into Newton Creek and up at Newton Clark Glacier, you round Lamberson Butte. A long descent has you cross Newton Creek. Again follow the cairns as the route up the other side isn't obvious at first. Coming up the other side you cross a number of beautiful waterfalls, hike up and over a ridge line above Heather Canyon. You start to descend and then cross the beginning of Mt. Hood Meadows ski area, mi. 34.5-37. After so much backcountry the lifts remind you of how much frontcountry you're actually in. There's one more larger glacial crossing to make below the White River Glacier, mi. 38 (descent and across) to mi. 39. There's some nice shade after you get across. You will also want to filter your last bit of water here as things dry up just before the finish of your hike. 1.2 mi. to go and this is up, up, up. It's not overly steep, just a consistent grade up. The sun can be a bit brutal here as there's not much shade. It's sandy the last .5 mi. to Timberline Lodge.

*Notes: Filters tend to clog easily and or more often when filtering glacial runoff due to the silt content. Having a dog was at times hazardous due to some of the creek/river crossings. Having a a long line to connect to the leash was helpful.

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