Timberline Trail

Mt. Hood + Clackamas River Area, Oregon

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Timberline Trail


  • The trail is accessed shortly above Timberline Lodge.- Timberline Trail
  • Mount Hood (11,250 ft) from the top of Zig Zag drainage.- Timberline Trail
  • Headwaters of the Sandy River.- Timberline Trail
  • Mount Hood (11,250 ft) from the Sandy River.- Timberline Trail
  • Crossing the Sandy River.- Timberline Trail
  • Ramona Falls.- Timberline Trail
  • Crossing the Muddy Fork.- Timberline Trail
  • Wildflowers from Bald Moundtain area.- Timberline Trail
  • Mount Hood (11,250 ft) from the northwest.- Timberline Trail
  • Life returning at the edge of a burnout.- Timberline Trail
  • Elk Cove area.- Timberline Trail
  • Mount Hood (11,250 ft) from the north.- Timberline Trail
  • Creek crossing.- Timberline Trail
  • Approaching the Eliot drainage.- Timberline Trail
  • Mount Adams (12,281 ft) with Mount St Helens (8,365') obscured in the clouds.- Timberline Trail
  • Crossing below Cooper's Spur.- Timberline Trail
  • Mount Hood (11,250 ft) from the northeast.- Timberline Trail
  • Crossing below Cooper Spur.- Timberline Trail
  • Mount Jefferson (10,495 ft) and the Three Sisters.- Timberline Trail
  • Sunrise above the Timberline Trail.- Timberline Trail
  • Alpenglow on Mount Hood (11,250 ft).- Timberline Trail
  • Stream crossing along the Timberline Trail.- Timberline Trail
  • One of several cascades along the Timberline Trail.- Timberline Trail
  • Mount Hood (11,250 ft) from Mount Hood Meadows.- Timberline Trail
  • Passing through Mount Hood Meadows with Mount Jefferson (10,495 ft) in the background.- Timberline Trail
  • Retuning to the lodge above the White River drainage.- Timberline Trail
  • Timberline Lodge.- Timberline Trail
  • Light shines over the Eliot Glacier from near Cooper Spur.- Timberline Trail
  • The Cooper Spur shelter.- Timberline Trail
  • Waterfall on Clark Creek.- Timberline Trail
  • Eliot Creek crossing is the washout without a designated trail as of August, 2016.- Timberline Trail
  • Cairn Basin shelter in the fog.- Timberline Trail
  • Wildflowers surround McGee Creek on the spur trail to McNeil Point.- Timberline Trail
  • Bear grass meadow near Cairn Basin.- Timberline Trail
  • Ramona Falls.- Timberline Trail
  • An illuminated tent in Paradise Park as the moon is about to set.- Timberline Trail
  • A moonset over Mount Hood as seen from the Cloud Cap Inn.- Timberline Trail
  • - Timberline Trail
Overview + Weather
Consistently great views. Varying terrain. Ample campsite options. Many water sources.
Some sections are crowded with dayhikers.
Mt. Hood + Clackamas River Area, OR
Pets allowed: 
Net Elevation Gain: 
4,060.00 ft (1,237.49 m)
Parking Pass: 
NW Forest Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
39.00 mi (62.76 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
5,960.00 ft (1,816.61 m)
Typically multi-day: 
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description


Offering one of the most interactive ways to experience Mount Hood, the Timberline Trail provides constant, unique, and intimate views of the mountain as well as vistas across the surrounding areas. While many people are familiar with Mount Hood views from the ski areas to the south, many of the other aspects of the volcano take a little more effort to access. Within a relatively short distance, the trail takes you across every drainage and over every ridge radiating around the summit.

The length of the trail is almost 40 miles; however, the true challenge of the adventure comes from the constant change in elevation. By dropping down to cross every tributary fed by the snowfields and glaciers above, the trail gains and loses around 9,000 feet, which is more than 1.5 times the elevation change experienced by summiting the mountain itself.

While some use the loop as a challenging trail run done over a very long day, most spend at least two or three nights on the trail. This affords a more relaxing pace with time to take in the surrounding beauty and enjoy your remote alpine camps.  No matter where you start or which direction you choose, there are ample choices to make camp. From the forest cover near Ramona Falls and the alpine meadows in the Cairn Basin to the open slopes near Cooper’s Spur, there is certainly no shortage of diverse tent site options. While some areas of the trail will be more populated with weekend hikers or backpackers, the areas farther from the access points will provide more solitude and a true wilderness experience. About 11 miles of the loop follows the Pacific Crest Trail, so you may notice more traffic from Timberline Lodge to the Bald Mountain area.

Crossing and filtering water from rivers and creeks will vary depending on when the trip is made. From July into early August, much of the water is still being released from the melting snowfields. Some water sources may still be covered by the snow on the trail. Later in the season these drainages will be running with creek water while others will have dried up or only run in the late afternoon. Many of the larger crossings are too silty to filter.

Most of the crossings can be done quickly and easily, although the major creeks and rivers may require some care and more commitment to cross. Again, water levels fluctuate with the seasons, but the ones to watch for are the Zigzag River, Sandy River, Muddy Fork, Coe Creek, Eliot Creek, Newton Creek, Clark Creek and White River. While the section near the Eilot Creek is officially closed due to the impressively large washout of 2006, many hikers are able to make it through. Although the Forest Service recommends setting up a car shuttle to avoid this rough terrain altogether, continuing through can be achieved by two methods: either drop down and ascend the steep scree and sand slopes on either side of the creek from a few hundred yards higher than the actual trail, or cross much higher on the glacier above. Keep in mind that this consists of off-trail terrain that many backpackers may not be comfortable with, so make sure you have the adequate experience and skills before making your decisions on how to pass this section of the trail.

Although more strenuous and rugged than other backpacking adventures in the area, the rewards that come from the Timberline Trail experience will not easily be forgotten. A test for both your mental strength and physical capabilities, experiencing the beauty around Oregon’s tallest mountain will leave you with a new and unique perspective of this amazing wilderness.

Updates, Tips + Comments

Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide + Trail Map

Field Guide + Trail Map

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(60 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(158 within a 30 mile radius)

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