Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
1,200.00 ft (365.76 m)
Trail type
5.00 mi (8.05 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Compared to the hoards of visitors who explore Mount Hood Meadows during the winter months, the mountain's east side is remarkably quiet during the summer. The resort's base is a great launching off point for numerous hikes and backpacking opportunities, and the relatively short hike up to Elk Meadows is one of the best options.  

Starting though a forest of mixed firs, hemlocks and black huckleberries, you'll quickly reach Clark Creek and Newton Creek.  From there it's a roughly 780-foot gain up Newton Canyon's north slope to Elk Meadows. Thick with high grasses and dotted with the violet hue of explorer's gentian, the meadow opens up to spectacular views of Mount Hood's eastern slope. Wander around the eastern and northern edges to find the best picnic spot, one of the numerous backcountry campsites or the classic warming shelter.

From Elk Meadows it is only a short walk back to find the viewpoint at Elk Mountain, or climb an additional 1,300 feet on the Timberline Trail up to Gnarl Ridge and Lamberson Butte. Hikers can also head roughly 6 miles north along Cold Spring Creek to Tamanawas Falls, which is a great vehicle shuttle backpacking trip.


Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

NW Forest Pass


Serene subalpine meadow. Numerous backcountry campsites. Options for extending your hike.


Only accessible for hiking in summer and early fall.

Trailhead Elevation

4,470.00 ft (1,362.46 m)


Backcountry camping
Big vistas

Typically multi-day



Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping


Beautiful hike! Probably not good for families because of the river crossing. We encountered an older couple that turned around at the river. The best way across is a fallen log a little upriver, which my friend and I scooted across due to our heavy packs. We watched another couple walk across the log with ease, but they didn't have any extra weight on their backs. The meadows were beautiful and full of wildflowers and butterflies. All in all, highly recommended if you're able-bodied.
Went up around 5, came back down around 6:30pm yesterday. The river might be a bit intense for dogs right now there's only a little log to walk across. It's pretty cold and wet at the top so bring waterproof shoes and a sweater if you're planning on going up this late in the season. <3
Photos from a while back.
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