As I am currently living in South Washington I get a view of Oregons highest peak Mount Hood (3.425m) almost every day. Among the Cascades majestic peaks Mount Hood is one of the most beautiful.
A lot of trails are leading up and down Mount Hoods edges and ridges. Even the Pacific Crest trail passes by. But if you want to explore the full beauty of this mountain you either have to climb it or best just circumnavigate it.
Since the craving to do so is strong for a lot of hikers, there is an established trail around the mountain. Since this trail is close to or above timberline most of the time it’s name is Timberline Trail. Most people who hike it start and end at the world famous, touristy and often very busy Timberline Lodge where huge parking lots are available. You can then choose if you are doing the trail clockwise or counter-clockwise. Most people do it clockwise and it takes them 3-4 days to complete the 65 kilometers and almos 3.000 meters elevation gain.
According to a quick internet search a major washout destroyed a part of the Timberline Trail at Eliot Branch some years ago. A vague and difficult detour should exist and we weren’t sure about how it will work out, since a friends of ours didn’t finish his loop in early summer due to major difficulties back then.
Good news first: the Forest Service established an easy new route (it is symbolized in red in the map above). The new trail leads you down the Eliot Branch where you can safely cross the river and then leads all the way back up. The new route is easy going but it adds a bit of length and elevation loss and gain.
David a friend of mine and myself decided to start this loop on 14. September at around 10:00 am at the Timberline Lodge.
We enjoyed beautiful sceneries on day one and kept walking without major breaks. By the end of day one we already reached the north side of the mountain and we set up our camp at the Cairn Basin which is about half way. Since no rain was forecasted we did it in good ol‘ cowboy manor. The temperatures dropped down close to freezing this night but after a wonderful hiking day we slept like babies.
We started day two at around 7:30 am and we soon passed the infamous Eliot Creek branch (see above) on a safe and well established new trail. By noon we realised that if we kept up our speed and if we do so for the next hours we can finish on the same day.
Long story short: we reached Timberline Lodge at around 18:00 pm.
The Timberline Trail was breathtaking in most parts and two wonderful trail days lay back behind us.
Since we planed to do this loop in two and a half days we had an additional day left and we needed a new adventure for the next day. Luckily we had a more than equal plan in our pockets…