It's always amazing how one mountain can appear completely different depending on how and when you approach it. If there is a representative hike for each side of Mount Hood, the hike up to McNeil Point is the one that best represents the giant volcano's west side.
The trail begins in an old-growth forest consisting predominantly of noble fir and western hemlock over a bear grass and black huckleberry understory. At the trail's first intersection you'll turn right onto the Pacific Crest Trail, and then at the next intersection 0.1 miles further up the trail you'll be presented with two options to get past Bald Mountain. The trail to the left leads around Bald Mountain's north side and is more direct but offers little variety in scenery. The trail to the right (which we recommend) is slightly longer but traverses across Bald Mountain's eastern slope; at which point, Wy'east's rough western face will dominate your views. This section of trail makes for a good turn-around location if you're simply making a short excursion for the sake of the spectacular views from Bald Mountain. Proceeding on this trail however will require cutting back onto the main ridgeline trail via an unmaintained connector trail that is located some 40 yards prior to a horse barricade.
Continuing up the ridgeline, once you reach the underside of the McNeil Point buttress, the trail circles to the north and eventually leads to the classic stone shelter. It is possible to take a far less improved route directly up, crossing over a steep talus field (loose boulders) or along the ridgeline (the "climber's route"), but unless you're in an extreme hurry we do not recommend this approach much steeper route.
From McNeil Point, enjoy glimpses of the gorged valley created by Sandy Glacier, lush wildflowers surrounding McGee Creek, and vistas out to Larch Mountain, Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier and Mount Adams.