Timberline Trail

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Timberline Trail
Timberline Trail north side.jpg
View of the north side of Mount Hood from the Timberline Trail
Length40.7 mi (65.5 km)
LocationMount Hood, Oregon, United States
Elevation change9,000 feet (2,700 m)[1]
Highest pointLamberson Spur, 7,300 ft (2,200 m)
Lowest pointSandy River 3,240 feet (990 m)[2]
Hiking details
SeasonSummer to early Fall
MonthsMid-July through early October
Hazardsstream crossings

Timberline Trail is a hiking trail around Mount Hood in the U.S. state of Oregon. It is in mostly wilderness but also goes near Timberline Lodge, Cloud Cap Inn (the oldest building on Mt. Hood), and Mount Hood Meadows ski area.[3]


The Timberline Trail was constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, the majority of their work taking place in the summer of 1934 at a cost of $10,000.[4] Sections of the trail have changed due to damage caused by landslides and washouts since then.[1]

In September 1938 a group of hikers completed the entire trail (36 miles at the time) in 47 hours, making local news and increasing awareness of the trail.[5]

Hiking the trail[edit]

The trail, Forest Service trail #600, shares eleven miles (18 km) with the Pacific Crest Trail and alternates above and below the timberline. The trail is rerouted periodically due to washouts and to avoid sensitive high altitude and alpine meadows. It has a handful of informal campsites for backpackers, although camping is permitted anywhere outside the meadows and at least 200 feet (61 m) from water bodies. There are several hazardous stream crossings, especially on the west side and at landslide-prone Eliot Branch near Cloud Cap which closed the trail there in 2007. The trail has several significant vertical ascents and descents totaling 9,000 feet (2,700 m), mostly at canyon crossings. The trail is accessible from Timberline Lodge, which has Forest Service permitted parking (which you can purchase at Timberline Lodge) for backpackers, and numerous connecting trails.

The hike is typically completed in three to five days, but some ambitious hikers complete it in one or two days.


Risks associated with hiking along the Timberline Trail include hypothermia, falling, and drowning. Areas of special concern are the Sandy River crossing, where a hiker drowned in 2004,[6] the Eliot Creek, which washed out and closed a section of the trail in 2007,[7] and the Muddy Fork section, which washed out in 2007 and has deteriorated to a point where it is "barely passable" according to a United States Forest Service sign. The Sandy River can be crossed on log bridges that are erected seasonally.

A storm in November 2006 washed out The Eliot Creek section of the trail. Since then, hikers have either had to scramble down the loose and hazardous slopes or climb higher (onto the Eliot Glacier). There has been some discussion about re-routing the trail below the washout with the possibility of building a suspension bridge.[8]

The Muddy Fork section can be avoided by taking the Pacific Crest Trail (Trail 2000) from Bald Mountain to Trail 797 to Ramona Falls. This not only makes the hike much safer, but also shortens the total hike by 2.4 miles (3.9 km). A common problem with this shortcut is that the signs at the Bald Mountain crossroads mislabel the Pacific Crest Trail due to a re-routing of the Pacific Crest Trail several years ago.

The August and September 2011 Dollar Lake fire temporarily closed the Timberline Trail. It is open through the burned sections as of 2012.[9]


  1. ^ a b Judd, R. & Nelson, D. (1995). The Complete Guide Pacific Northwest Hiking. Foghorn Press. ISBN 0935701044.
  2. ^ Mt. Hood Climbing/Timberline Trail Map 462S. Green Trails Maps. 2005.
  3. ^ Richard, Terry (September 10, 1997). "MOUNT HOOD'S TIMBERLINE TRAIL N0. 600 TRAIL PLANNER". The Oregonian.
  4. ^ Unknown (September 16, 1934). "The Sunday Oregonian". The Oregonian.
  5. ^ Unknown (September 14, 1938). "High School Boys Hike Around Hood in 2-Day Jaunt". The Oregonian.
  6. ^ "Mount Hood solo hiker drowned while crossing swollen Sandy River". Traditional Mountaineering. Retrieved 2008-08-17.
  7. ^ "A Day on the Snow Dome". Off-Piste. Retrieved 2008-08-17.
  8. ^ Milstein, Michael (July 12, 2007). "Mt. Hood's Timberline Trail tumbles, may stay that way". The Oregonian.
  9. ^ US Department of Agriculture. "Mt. Hood National Forest Fire Info and Closures Related to Dollar Lake Fire and Mother Lode Fire Updated 9-28-11 2:00 p.m." Retrieved August 6, 2012.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 45°24′10″N 121°43′46″W / 45.40278°N 121.72944°W / 45.40278; -121.72944