When compared with the crowds that flock to Mount Hood's south side, the relative calm of the Gnarl Ridge area is a welcome relief. Whether you are attempting the 8.2 mile, 2,030-foot climb in one day or you are stationed at Elk Meadows, you'll find the views from Gnarl Ridge well worth the journey. Once you pass Lamberson Butte on the Timberline Trail, the craggy Newton Canyon dramatically opens up to views of Mount Hood's summit. From this ridgeline you'll also gain expansive views as far south as Mount Jefferson and the Three Sisters. To the north, look for glimpses of Mount Adams through the subalpine forest of gnarly mountain hemlocks and windblown lodgepole pines.
Return via Elk Meadows or continue southwest on the Timberline Trail (this is the best choice if you are backpacking). When you reach the Umbrella Falls Trail, head east until you return to Hood River Meadows. This is a long loop, so plan accordingly.