High Cascades Hiking Mt. Hood Area Oregon Trip report

Cloud Cap to Elk Cove – 8/17/2019

For the grand finale hike of our August vacation we headed for Mt. Hood to do the section of the Timberline Trail from Cloud Cap to Elk Cove. We had been to Cloud Cap in 2016 during our hike up Cooper Spur (post) and we’ve visited Elk Cove a couple of times (most recently in 2017 post) via a western approach on the Timberline Trail. We had not however been on the 5 mile section of the Timberline Trail between the Coe Branch (we turned back at the crossing in 2014 post) and the Cloud Cap Saddle Campground.

We had a bit of a scare on the way to the trailhead as most of the drive was spent in a light drizzle which became heavier at Government Camp. At the White River sno-park Mt. Hood was hidden behind a layer of gray clouds but as we continued north on Highway 35 we emerged from the grey. By the time we were winding our way up Cloud Cap Road the sky was blue and there were no signs of the clouds hiding on the other side of the mountain. We parked at the Cloud Cap Trailhead and hiked through the campground to a pair of signboards marking the Timberline Trail.

We turned right onto that trail and followed it through a short stretch of green trees before emerging into a recovering fire scar.


The trail turns north toward Mt. Adams and away from Mt. Hood as it prepares to drop steeply into the gorge carved by the glacial Eliot Branch which could be heard roaring in the chasm below.
IMG_6951Mt. Adams ahead above the clouds.

We descended a series of switchbacks which provided ample views of Mt. Hood without having to strain our necks looking behind us.
IMG_6954Mt. Hood

The Eliot Branch has a reputation as being one of the trickier crossing on the mountain ever since a bridge was swept away over a decade ago. In fact the Timberline Trail had “officially” been closed for years (there were still unofficial crossings) until the Forest Service completed a reroute of the trail in 2016. As we neared the stream the first looks were impressive.


The combination of the cloudy water, thundering noise, and swift current make glacial streams seem particularly daunting. Crossing earlier in the day minimizes the amount flow making morning crossings easier than those later in the afternoon or evening. We arrived at the crossing shortly before 8am so that was in our favor. There was also a promising looking log a bit downstream but it looked like it might be a tricky descent to reach it from this direction and we were (or at least I was) hoping to get a little fording practice in so we picked a reasonable looking spot and made our way through the water which was only just reaching our calves at its deepest.



It was a fairly uneventful crossing except for having forgotten just how cold a glacial stream is. Brrrr!!

We had lost over 350′ of elevation getting down to the Eliot that needed to be made up now that we were across. The Timberline Trail gained over 500′ in the next three quarters of a mile as it climbed out of the canyon.

IMG_6973We entered the Mt. Hood Wilderness on the way up.



The burned trees allowed for fairly consistent views of both Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams.
IMG_6980Mt. Adams

IMG_6981Mt. Rainier peaking over the clouds to the left of Mt. Adams.

IMG_6985Mt. Hood


The trail leveled out near the 6000′ elevation and passed through a stand of green trees before arriving at a small wildflower lined stream. A pair of marmots ran into the rocks as we approached.





IMG_7011Jacob’s ladder

IMG_7012Western Pasque flower

A second stream followed shortly after.


20190817_082250Lupine with a beetle.

Continuing on we passed a hillside covered with western pasque flower seed heads, often referred to as hippies on a stick.


As we rounded a ridge end we stopped to talk to a backpacker going in the other direction. He asked if we were from the area and wanted to know which mountains he had been seeing to the north. In addition to Adams and Rainier, Mt. St. Helens was just barely visible from that spot which we were able to point out to him.

We rounded the forested ridge and came to a large rock field below the Langille Crags.



Just over a mile from the Eliot crossing we arrived at the first of Compass Creeks three branches.

Compass Creek is fed by the Langille Glacier and each branch sports a waterfall above the Timberline Trail.

A short scramble up the rocks along the creek brought us to the base of the falls.


IMG_7076Mt. Adams from Compass Creek.

IMG_7079Wildflowers along Compass Creek.

IMG_7083Monkeyflower and paintbrush

IMG_7101Hummingbird near Compass Creek.

After admiring the falls we continued on rounding two small ridges before arriving at the middle branch of Compass Creek .3 miles from the first.



This branch didn’t have nearly the amount of water as the first leaving the waterfall a little wispy.

There was yet another stream a short distance away which was putting on a wonderful wildflower display including a nice combination of pink and yellow monkeyflowers.

IMG_7123Lupine, paintbrush and monkeyflower.




This alpine stream was sublime and a reminder of why Mt. Hood is such a wonderful place. We kept going passing an aster covered hillside and then another meadow full of other types of flowers.



It was another .3 miles between the middle and final branches of Compass Creek where another waterfall crashed down behind a snow bridge.




After crossing the final branch of Compass Creek the trail headed down a ridge along the creek passing views of a lower waterfall.
IMG_7157Mt. Adams (again) from Compass Creek.


IMG_7164Waterfall on Compass Creek below the Timberline Trail.

In the next mile we passed through a wildflower meadow, green trees, a fire scar, and lost 350′ of elevation before arriving at yet another little stream.






The trail then headed downhill more quickly as we approached the Coe Branch.

A little over a mile and a half from Compass Creek we arrived at the Coe Branch and were pleased to find a pair of nice makeshift log bridges spanning the stream.


The crossing was no issue at all and we soon found ourselves climbing away from the Coe.


The climb away from the Coe Branch wasn’t nearly as steep as the descent had been and after three quarters of a mile we arrived at a sign for Elk Cove.

We followed the trail into the meadow where the view of Mt. Hood and Barrett Spur (post) was as impressive as always.




We explored a bit and then rested at a familiar spot along the stream that flows through Elk Cove.


IMG_7249Coe Glacier

After resting and soaking in the scenery we headed back. We stopped again below Compass Creek Falls where we watched a hummingbird moth visiting the monkeyflowers.


When we had finally made it back to the Eliot crossing we used the log we’d seen that morning as suggested by some hikers who we passed shortly before reaching the stream.


We actually wouldn’t have minded the ice cold water at that point, but the flow had increased now that it was after 1pm so the log was the safest option. We made the final climb back up to Cloud Cap taking our final look at Mt. Hood and the Eliot Glacier.



The hike was 12.3 miles round trip with approximately 2700′ of cumulative elevation gain, most of which came from dropping down to and climbing up from the Eliot and Coe Branches. It was a perfect day, blue skies and cool temperatures, and there couldn’t have been a better way to end our 6 days of hiking. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Cloud Cap to Elk Cove

High Cascades Hiking Mt. Hood Area Oregon Trip report

Vista Ridge Trail to Elk Cove – Mt. Hood

August is typically one of our busier hiking months but this year things are working out differently. We’ve both had things come up at work leading us to change our vacation plans, the date of our annual family reunion changed, there are forest fires closing large areas of both the Mt. Jefferson and Three Sisters Wildernesses, and the upcoming solar eclipse essentially eliminated any realistic plans for hiking around the 21st.

We actually almost skipped our weekly hike this time around but knowing we’d later regret that decision we turned to Mt. Hood, which has thus far escaped the fire issues this year. Our plan was to take the Vista Ridge Trail up to the Timberline Trail and visit a few familiar areas – Eden Park, Cairn Basin, and Elk Cove.

We began at the Vista Ridge Trailhead.


We set off through the forest which was damp from a light mist that fell for most of the day.


It was actually really nice to hike in the cool temperatures and to see some moisture falling.


The trail enters an area burned by the 2011 Dollar Lake Fire near a registration box for the Mt. Hood Wilderness after a half mile.


The Vista Ridge Trail is probably best known for its displays of avalanche lilies in the burn area during July but we discovered that August provided an amazing display of its own.


The amount of fireweed was simply amazing.




With all the fires currently burning it was nice to be reminded that the forests will recover eventually.

With the misty conditions views were limited but Pinnacle Ridge was visible across the Clear Branch Valley and we spied a bit of Laurence Lake as well as Bald Butte further in the distance.

IMG_6829Pinnacle Ridge


After two and a half miles we arrived at the junction with the Eden Park Loop Trail.


A few avalanche lilies were still blooming in this area.


We turned down the Eden Park Trail which descended through more burned forest filled with more fireweed and some small meadows with other wildflowers.






We also crossed several small wildflower lined streams flowing down toward Ladd Creek.





Eight tenths of a mile from the Vista Ridge Trail junction we arrived at Ladd Creek itself.


Just beyond Ladd Creek we arrived at Eden Park.





Beyond Eden Park the trail began to climb on its way up to the Timberline Trail at Cairn Basin.







We turned left on the Timberline Trail and took a short snack break in Carin Basin and visited the stone shelter.



After leaving Cairn Basin we recrossed Ladd Creek.



It was about a mile from this upper crossing to the junction with the Vista Ridge Trail. There were lots of wildflowers along this stretch as well as some lingering snow.










Wy’East Basin lay just beyond the junction with more flower lined streams.





We continued on from Wy’East Basin heading toward Elk Cove. Despite not being able to see the mountain, just being on the Timberline Trail gave us that alpine feeling that only the mountains can.




We had passed several rock fields where we had listened and looked for one of our favorite animals, the pika, but had not had any luck. As we began the descent to Elk Cove though we heard the distinctive “meep” of a pika. It’s a sound that always brings a smile to our faces. We had stopped along the trail for a moment to look around and just as we started to resume hiking we spotted one sitting on the rocks ahead.




The descent to Elk Cove when hiking clockwise on the Timberline Trail is an extremely scenic section of trail when visibility is good. The clouds and mist took a bit away from the epic views but it was still an impressive sight.






The further down into the cove we went the better the flower display became.







We stopped at an empty campsite near a creek and took a seat while we took in the beauty of the surrounding area.


We could occasionally see some blue sky to the east which gave us a just a bit of hope that maybe we’d get a view of the mountain after all.


The blue sky looked to be just on the side of the mountain though and the clouds were continuing to blow in from the west.


After a while the combination of our damp clothes and the cool breeze became a little chilly so we decided to head back. It appeared that we were out of luck on a mountain view this time but as we were climbing out of the cove the clouds began to break even more.




We waited and watched as the sky cleared up just enough to reveal the mountain before swallowing it up once more.





It had lasted less than a minute and then we were back in the cloudy mist but it was the icing on the cake for what had already been a great hike. We returned to the junction with the Vista Ridge Trail where we turned downhill, passing the Eden Park Trail junction in .3 miles and arriving back at our car in another two and a half miles. The total distance for the day was just over 11 miles with a little under 2000′ of elevation gain.

We were very glad we hadn’t skipped our weekly hike. Getting out on the trail was really just what we had needed. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Vista Ridge Trail

High Cascades Hiking Mt. Hood Area Oregon Trip report

Cooper Spur

We have had the hike up Cooper Spur on Mt. Hood in our plans for the last several years but for one reason or another it has wound up getting bumped from the schedule.  It was on our schedule again this year with an October date set.  Not wanting to miss out on this hike again we decided to take advantage of what appeared to be an excellent weather forecast and move it up.

Our plan was to start out at the Tilly Jane Ski Trail along Forest Road 3512 and explore the Cloud Cap/Tilly Jane Historic District as well as hiking up Cooper Spur. This starting point adds nearly 2000′ of elevation gain and approximately 5.5 miles to the hike vs starting at either the Tilly Jane or Cloud Cap Saddle Campgrounds but we decided we’d rather spend time hiking up to those areas than driving an additional 30 minutes each way.

The trailhead is located just beyond the Cooper Spur Ski Area on Forest Road 3512. To reach it turn off of Highway 35 onto Cooper Spur Road then turn left onto Cloud Cap Road (Forest Road 3512) at the Cooper Spur Mountain Resort. The trailhead is 1.5 miles along this road with parking on the right.

Informational signs at the trailhead told a little about the historic district.


The trail headed uphill through the forest, reaching a junction after a half mile with the Polallie Ridge Trail which we would be taking as part of our return route.


The trail climbed very steadily and soon entered forest burned in the 2011 Dollar Lake Fire.

The burnt trees allowed for some nice views of not only Mt. Hood but also Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. St. Helens in Washington.


It was very apparent that earlier in the year there had been a nice display of wildflowers along the trail but most of them had long since passed although a few holdouts did remain.

The dead trees seemed to host plenty of life in the form of a variety of birds flying from tree to tree.



After nearly 3 miles of climbing we neared the Tilly Jane A Frame which was hidden in non-burnt trees.

Despite being threatened by the 2011 fire, firefighters had been able to save all the structures in the historic district.

Heather and I were busy talking as we approached the A-Frame and I suddenly noticed there was a deer in the trail about 20 yards away. It walked into the trees as I was grabbing the camera, but then a second deer appeared.

She sized us up for a moment then proceeded to take a few bites of the plants as she followed the other one into the trees.


As we continued up the trail we spotted the first deer and saw that it was a young buck.

After watching the deer for a moment we proceeded to the A-Frame to have a look.




The A-Frame was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1939 and can sleep up to 20. It originally had a kitchen and dining hall on the ground floor with the sleeping area above in the loft.

West of the A-Frame is the Legion Cookhouse (built in 1924) which is not in the best of shape.


Just beyond the cookhouse a trail sign announced the Tilly Jane Trail.

We turned left on the trail after taking a quick look at the American Legion Amphitheater which was also constructed in the 1920s.

The Tilly Jane Trail enters the Mt. Hood Wilderness about a quarter mile from the cookhouse.

The trail then proceeds uphill along the Polallie Creek Canyon just over three quarters of a mile to the Timberline Trail. A 1980 flash flood sent an 80′ deep wall of water and debris down the canyon. Viewpoints along the way offered a look at the origin of the flood at the headwall of the canyon.


Beyond the viewpoint of the headwall the forest began thinning out providing nice views ahead of Mt. Hood.

We also had a great view of Mt. Adams which is something we seem to rarely get.

Just over a mile from the cookhouse and 4 miles from the trailhead on FR 3512 we arrived at the Timberline Trail.

We followed the pointer for Cooper Spur a tenth of a mile to the Cooper Spur Shelter.

Cloud Cap Inn was visible from the shelter which we planned to visit on our way down.


We continued up from the shelter following a clear trail.

The official trail shown on maps switchbacks uphill but we wound up off the trail after visiting a viewpoint of the Eliot Glacier near a memorial plaque for Robert Edling, a mountain rescue pilot that died in a crop duster accident near The Dalles.


From the memorial plaque we headed straight up the ridge following a confusion of faint paths up through the rocks.

This was much steeper than the switchbacks would have been and when the official trail came close enough for us to see it we hopped back on. We left it again though when it headed straight for a snowfield. It was a cold morning (the expected high for the day in the area was 48) and we knew that the snow would be covered in ice so we wouldn’t be able to cross it. We returned to the edge of the ridge and headed straight up again. In addition to making the distance a little shorter, the main advantage to this route were the views. The views of the Eliot Glacier were really interesting.







The route steepened quite a bit as it veered to the east to climb to the top of a moraine.

A stone windbreak at the top wasn’t housing any hikers but there were a few ladybugs taking shelter.


The official trail ends here where the views were spectacular. To the south Broken Top, The Three Sisters, and Mt. Jefferson were all visible.

To the north Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Adams were all virtually cloud free.




To the NE the Columbia River snaked from the dry brown landscape of eastern WA and OR into the forested cliffs of the Columbia Gorge.

Further to the east the Newton Clark Glacier drained into the Newton Creek Canyon.

Mt. Hood provided the most dramatic view though.

One of the features on Mt. Hood that we had a good view of was Pulpit Rock.

Another unique feature in the area is Hiroshima Rock. A boulder inscribed by a group of Japanese climbers in 1910.

For more information on the Hiroshima Rock check out this post by WyEast Blog.

Even though the official trail ended at roughly 8500′ on top of the moraine, a climbers trail continued along the ridge past Tie-in Rock, a large boulder not far beyond the start of the ridge. The ridge was snow free so we continued on passing Tie-in Rock and continuing to an elevation just over 8900′ where the trail dropped slightly to a saddle between the Eliot and Newton Clark Glaciers.

Heather crossing the ridge. (Tie-in Rock is the large boulder in the distance just to the right of the trail.)

The first section of the ridge was somewhat level before a final rocky climb to our turnaround point.

We passed a final memorial plaque along the way remembering the victims of a 1981 climbing accident.


Other than a bow hunter, who had been at the trailhead when we arrived that morning, we hadn’t seen anyone other people and were alone on the ridge.

From this highest point one final Cascade Peak came into view to the south – Diamond Peak.

After enjoying the views we headed back down the way we’d come. As we were descending some high clouds passed overhead changing the scenery a bit.

We decided to follow the official trail on the way down from the moraine which turned out not to be the best decision. The snowfield was still impassible and it was a lot bigger than we had anticipated which caused us to have to swing out wide and make our way down along the snow in loose rocks and sand.

After passing below the snowfield we contoured back toward the official trail eventually picking it up about a mile and a half from the Timberline Trail. We then followed it back down to the junction and turned left on the Timberline Trail and headed toward Cloud Cap.


The trail descended to a crossing of the upper (and dry) portion of Tilly Jane Creek where it split. With no signs it was difficult to tell if we should turn downhill along the creek or climb to the ridge along the Eliot Moraine. We chose to go up where we found a nice path with great views along the ridge.



Near the end of the moraine the trail dropped down to the right into the forest.

After 1.2 miles we came to a sign for the Cloud Cap Trailhead.

We followed that trail for 100 yards to the Cloud Cap Saddle Campground where a road led up and around a hill to the Cloud Cap Inn.


Snowshoe Cabin

Cloud Cap Inn



The inn was opened in 1889 and is currently maintained by the Hood River Crag Rats who use the inn as a base for snow surveys and mountain rescues. Click  here for more on the inn’s history.

After visiting Cloud Cap we passed back through the campground where we turned left on the Tilly Jane Trail.

This section of the trail passed through a mix of burnt and unburnt forest and still had a few flowers along it.

Pearly everlasting



We followed signs to the Tilly Jane Campground and the 1924 Tilly Jane Guard Station.



The trail crossed Tilly Jane Creek on a footbridge between the Guard Station and the amphitheater.


Instead of returning on the Tilly Jane Ski Trail which led past the A-Frame we turned back uphill on the Tilly Jane Trail for a couple hundred feet to a trail sign for the Polallie Ridge Trail.

The Polallie Ridge Trail quickly entered the Dollar Fire burn area. The trail stuck closely to the top of the ridge as it headed straight downhill.


There was a nice view back to Mt. Hood as well as the headwall of the Polallie Creek Canyon.

The trail was faint and appeared to get more use by deer than hikers. Manzanita and chinkapin covered sections of the trail but it was passable.



The trail eventually reentered forest unaffected by the fire and just over 2 miles from the Tilly Jane Trail junction we turned left following a blue arrow for the Polallie Ridge Trail.



Another quarter mile brought us back to the Tilly Jane Ski Trail just .5 miles from our car.


The total distance for the hike was 13.9 miles with a little over 5000′ of elevation gain. It had been a near perfect day for the hike with the cool temperatures and lack of troublesome clouds. Having had Cooper Spur all to ourselves was just a bonus. We had begun seeing other hikers when we began descending from the moraine at 8500′ and there were plenty of cars at Cloud Cap and the Tilly Jane Campground as well as the trailhead when we got back. It was another good reminder why we get ourselves up so early on hiking days.

Happy Trails!


High Cascades Hiking Mt. Hood Area Oregon Trip report

McNeil Point

A week after visiting Mt. St. Helens we were headed to another of the Cascades volcanoes – Mt. Hood. We were meeting my parents in the morning for a hike up in the area of McNeil Point. The plan was to begin at the Top Spur Trailhead with them and hike together to an area below McNeil Point where ponds collect the melting winter snows. From the ponds Heather and I would head up to McNeil Point to visit the shelter there and continue up the ridge behind it toward Mt. Hood. We picked up my parents at McNeil Campground in the morning and were ready to set off on the Top Spur Trail just before 7AM.


The first section of trail led through a forest filled with huckleberries and blueberries. Tree roots covered the path in many areas making for an uneven surface for walking.

The Top Spur Trail joined the Pacific Crest Trail for a tenth of a mile before splitting off at a four way trail junction where the PCT and the Timberline Trail intersect.

We took the middle of three forks following the Timberline Trail toward the Muddy Fork River. The PCT continued down the far right-hand fork and the left-hand fork was the continuation of the Timberline Trail on its way toward Cairn Basin.

It would have been a little shorter hike if we had taken the Timberline Trail toward Cairn Basin which was the more direct way to get to the ponds below McNeil Point, but by heading toward the Muddy Fork we would pass through some open meadows on the south side of Bald Mountain where Mt. Hood would be visible. The meadows fill with flowers in early summer but were mostly passed now, however the view of Mt. Hood was still there.

After passing through the second (smaller) meadow on Bald Mountain the trail reentered the forest. We were now looking for a side trail that would take us over the top of the Bald Mountain ridge to the Timberline Trail on the north side. Heather and I had taken this trail in 2012. At that time it was an unmarked use trail up and over the ridge. We spotted a worn trail to the left in the area we expected and headed toward the ridge. I managed to lead us over a small ridge and right back onto the Timberline Trail that we had already been on. We had to walk back through the small meadow and look for a different trail. Just around the corner from where we had turned off the trail the first time there was another side trail. This one had a nice new sign indicating it was the Cut Off Trail. Apparently it was now an official trail and there was a similar sign on the far side of the ridge.

Now that we were back on track we headed uphill through the forest. More root covered trail awaited as we passed through some past-its-prime beargrass and headed up the ridge.


The trail climbed fairly gently up the ridge passing a couple of open views of the mountain.


In a typical year the flowers along this hike would have been at or near their peak in mid-July but this year the majority of them had already gone to seed. We did manage to spot a few late bloomers along the ridge though.



False Hellbore

Western Pasque Flower (seed-head)

After a few switchbacks the trail final leveled out some as it traversed a hillside where several branches of McGee Creek flowed across the trail. Additional flowers began popping up along this stretch but only the late blooming gentians and monkeyflower in larger quantities.
A branch of McGee Creek

Aster or fleabane





Another branch of McGee Creek

The trail passed below a pair of rock outcroppings below McNeil Point. At the second outcropping we found the first of the ponds completely dried up.
Passing the first outcropping.

Dry pond

Dry pond below the rocky outcrop and Mt. Hood beyond.

The second pond still had a little water and a nice view of the top of Mt. Hood.


We erroneously followed the trail leading away from the second pond believing it would reconnect with the Timberline Trail which had forked to the right after passing the dry pond. The trail we were on eventually petered out and we were left with a short bushwack to get back onto the correct trail. We popped back out of the trees onto the trail and turned left continuing toward the McNeil Point Trail and Cairn Basin. We passed a junction with the Mazama Trail, a trail we had hiked in 2013, and decided it was time for our party to split up.

Heather and I would go ahead at our own pace and head up to McNeil Point, and my parents would continue on toward Cairn Basin. We headed off amazed at the lack of flowers along the trail. On our previous visit to McNeil Point on 8/20/12 and Barrett Spur on 8/12/13 this section had been full of flowers but here we were a full month earlier than those visits and the flowers had long since passed. It was a clear indication of just how hot and dry this year had been. The good news was it was a clear day we had still had the views. In addition to Mt. Hood we could see three Washington snow peaks to the north.


Mt. Adams

Mt. Rainier

Mt. St. Helens

We left the Timberline Trail at the sign for McNeil Point.

The trail up to the shelter begins on a ridge next to silty Ladd Creek.


Heather enjoying the day.

The trail then crossed a rock field where there is normally also a snowfield. Not this year though.

Once past the rock field the trail passed beneath hills that hid most the mountain. Here we began to encounter more flowers in bloom.






There was also a lovely little creek lined with monkeyflowers.



We faced a choice as we neared the shelter. We could head straight for the stone building or we could veer uphill and gain the ridge behind the shelter and then head up it. On our previous visit we had simply gone to the shelter and turned back there. (We had also visited Cairn & Wy’East Basins and Eden Park that day.) We decided to head directly for the ridge and turned uphill.

As we headed for the ridge Mt. Hood began to peek out from above it.

Heather spotted an interesting looking ladybug along the way.

We gained the ridge and could see our route laid out before us with a closer look at Mt. Hood being the reward.

As we were climbing and looking around at all the scenery I noticed something brown near the top of the ridge to our left. It didn’t look like it belonged there but we couldn’t make out what it exactly was at first.

Once again the 30x zoom on our camera came in handy and we were able to see that it was a good sized buck bedded down for the day.

The best flower display of the day was in a little basin below the ridge where the deer was. Lupine, Mountain Heather, Paintbrush, Partridgefoot, Bistort, and Pasque flowers were all present.




The buck kept an eye on us as we continued up a very steep section of the ridge. Looking back down near we could see the trail to the shelter below and beyond McNeil Point was Bald Mountain and the ridge we and climbed from there.

McNeil Point Shelter

We were near what looked like the end of the climb.

We were wrong and there was one more stretch of uphill ahead of us.

To our left was Barrett Spur where we climbed to in August of 2013.

To our right was Yocum Ridge which we visited later that same year.

On our right was also the Sandy Glacier which feeds the Muddy Fork, a branch of the Sandy River. The scenery around the Sandy is just amazing.






We stopped on on a rocky spine just before a saddle where it would have required a sketchy looking descent to continue on any further.

We took a couple of pictures then pulled out some potato chips for a snack.



There had been two small groups ahead of us but they had since headed back down so we had the view almost to ourselves.


We headed back down toward the shelter, our next destination. Along the way we spotted a few flowers we’d missed on the way up.
Yellow cinquefoil

Cats ear lily

Blue-bells of Scotland

We paid a quick visit to the shelter then continued to make our way back down.

A few small clouds had formed by the time we arrived back at the ponds.


And the gentians had opened up some in the sunlight.

It was another hot day so we stopped at a nice pool in one of the branches of McGee Creek to filter some cold mountain water into our Hydroflasks.

We had some great views on the way down the ridge toward the trailhead. This had been the first day we’d been able to pick out an ice cave on the Sandy Glacier.



We had decided to take the shorter path back opting not to go around Bald Mountain with its views again so we said goodbye to the mountain at the last viewpoint along the ridge before heading back into the trees of the Mt. Hood Wilderness.


We found my parents back at the car, having finished their hike about 15-20 minutes prior to us. They had made it to Ladd Creek on the Timberline Trail and turned back there. It was a great day to be on the mountain and we ended it with dinner back at my parents campsite. Happy Trails!


High Cascades Hiking Mt. Hood Area Oregon Trip report

Pinnacle Ridge to Elk Cove – Mt. Hood

One of the trails on our backpacking to-do list is the 39.3 Timberline Trail around Mt. Hood. Until we get around to that trip though we settle for small sections at a time. We have managed to cover approximately 25 of those miles now with the most recent mile coming on our visit to Elk Cove and the Coe Branch.

There are a number of trails that lead to the Timberline Trail and for this hike we decided to try the Pinnacle Ridge Trail. This trail climbs just over 2000′ in 3.4 miles to the Timberline Trail between Wy’East Basin and Dollar Lake.

The trail passes through forest burned in the 2011 Dollar Lake Fire. Vegetation is starting to return in some areas but the first section of the trail was still pretty barren.

A pleasant surprise was a small stream with a picturesque crossing.

We noticed a possible little waterfall downstream and left the trail to see what we could find. It turned out to be a lovely pair of little falls.

The trail enters the Mt. Hood Wilderness just after passing a small rock slide and shortly after we got our glimpse of The Pinnacle, the rock formation the trail is named after.

The forest began to get greener as we passed The Pinnacle. The trees had still been burned in the fire but a series of springs and bogs created a green undergrowth.

After making our way around a particularly muddy area we started encountering some unburnt forest. Mountain heather and avalanche lilies greeted us along with some hungry mosquitoes.

The bugs were pretty bad for a short stretch but when we met the Timberline Trail they relented. We had been on this portion of the trail on our trip to Barret Spur last year. We retraced our steps from that visit passing the side trail to Dollar Lake and continuing around a ridge end to one of the more impressive views we’ve seen from the Timberline Trail. One minute the mountain is hidden and the next you are staring straight at it.

The flower display along this portion of the trail was very impressive.

Melting snow feeds several streams that help keep Elk Cove full of color. The contrast of Mt. Hood looming over the green meadows is breathtaking.

We followed a small trail along the largest creek up through the wildflower filled meadows toward the mountain. The flowers along the creek were especially colorful.
I managed to get up to the snowfield that was feeding the stream. Where the view back down at the meadow was filled with western pasque flowers and paintbrush.

We returned to the Timberline Trail and began to make our way through the rest of Elk Cove. There were several meadows, each with it’s own variety of flowers and view of Mt. Hood.


Our original plan was to continue on the Timberline crossing over the Coe Branch and continuing on to Compass Creek Falls where we would turn around. On the far side of Elk Cove we reentered the trees where there was still an impressive amount of flowers.

As we came around a ridge end we got our first glimpse of the Coe Branch as it flowed down from the Coe Glacier.

Even from up above we could tell by the sound that the Coe Branch was flowing very swiftly. When we arrived at the water we discovered it was already swollen due to the rapid snow melt caused by a very hot morning. We scanned for a good crossing point and found a couple of possibilities but in the end decided to call it good and make this our turn around point.

Since we hadn’t made it to Compass Creek we did a little exploring down the Elk Cove Trail, another possible route to the Timberline Trail. Camping is prohibited in the meadows of Elk Cove but there were several nice campsites a short distance down this trail that had views and surroundings like this:

After checking out several campsites we headed back up the Timberline Trail and out of Elk Cove. We decided to take the quick .2 mile side trip to visit Dollar Lake at the last minute as we passed by the hard to spot trail.

The return trip from Dollar Lake was pretty uneventful. The mosquitoes had apparently had enough of the heat and left us alone for the most part. We did spot a very focused swallowtail butterfly that didn’t seem to be the least bit concerned with it’s picture being taken.

When we arrived back at the parking area we got one last look at Mt. Hood.
Another day hiking on the Timberline Trail had only reenforced our desire to tackle the whole loop someday. Happy Trails!


Year-end wrap up

The hikes of 2013 – A year in review.

What an amazing year of hiking it was! As we reach then end of 2013 we thought we’d make one final entry recapping the beautiful areas and unique features we were blessed enough to encounter while out on our “wanderings”. We began the year in February at the Oregon Coast, hiking at Gwynn Creek and Cape Perpetua then finished up just a couple of weeks ago, once again on the Oregon Coast at Tillamook Head, 140 miles north of where we had started. Sandwiched in between these two hikes were 40 other adventures in which we climbed mountains, crossed rivers, and scrambled cross-country to explore a small sampling of the trails of NW Oregon and SW Washington. We put together a map of the approximate location of the trailheads for each of the hikes.
2013 Trailheads
An interactive version can be viewed on mapquest using the following link.

I’ve always been interested in numbers so I have kept quite a few statistics regarding these 42 hikes. Here are some of those that I found most interesting. We visited 10 wilderness and 2 scenic areas in 8 different national forests. In addition to the national forests we hiked in 4 state parks and at a national volcanic monument. Some of the other numbers are as follows:
Total Miles (according to the Garmin) – 515.2
Cumulative Elevation Gained (approx.) – 88,000′
Minimum/Maximum Elevation – sea level/10,358′
Total Moving Time (per the Garmin) – 240hrs 36min
Total Time on the Trails (per the Garmin) – 280hrs 6min
Total Miles Driven (approx.) – 7550 miles

For the most part the weather was good. We had a warm, dry end to Winter which carried into Spring clearing many trails of snow earlier than normal. This allowed for some earlier visits to some of the higher elevation areas and also an early bloom for most of the wildflowers including the bear grass which only blooms every 2nd or 3rd year. A mild summer kept temperatures bearable and despite the dry beginning to the year the fire season wasn’t too bad. Fall brought an early snowstorm and left an early winter wonderland at mid-elevations and some unusually cold temperatures of late created some interesting ice displays.

Words can’t do justice to the beauty of God’s creation that we experienced this so year I’ll try to keep them to a minimum and attempt to let pictures show what they can.
I have to start with the Cascade Mountains. The most awe inspiring creations, these steadfast beacons that on clear days dot the horizon always seem to draw our attention.

From the rim of Crater Lake in the south to Mt. Rainier in the north they rise above the other ridges, rooted in their positions, yet ever changing in order or varying in appearance depending on what our location was. Some of the views we had were amazing.

Mt. Scott, Mt. Thielsen, Mt. Baily, & Diamond Peak from the South Sister Summit
View from the South Sister
Cascade Peaks from Mt. Bachelor to Mt. Hood (minus the North Sister which was hidden behind the Middle) from Mt. Fuji
Waldo Lake
Mt. Washington to Mt. Hood from the Pacfic Crest Trail near Yapoah Crater
Belknap Crater, Mt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Jefferson & Mt. Hood
Mt. Washington to Mt. Bachelor from Three Fingered Jack
Broken Top, Mt. Bachelor, The Three Sisters, Mt. Washington and The Husband
Mt. Rainier, The Goat Rocks, and Mt. Adams from Wildcat Mountain
Mr. Rainier, The Goat Rocks, and Mt. Adams
Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Adams from Silver Star Mountain
View from Ed' Trail

Individual peaks working from the south to the north.
Mt. Thielsen:
From Fuji Mountian
Mt. Thielsen

Diamond Peak:
From Waldo Mountain
Fuji Mountain and Diamond Peak
From Fuji Mountain
Diamond Peak

Mt. Bachelor:
From Fuji Mountain
Mt. Bachelor
From Tam MacArthur Rim
Mt. Bachelor

Broken Top:
From above Moraine Lake
Broken Top and Moraine Lake
From Fuji Mountain
Broken Top and Ball Butte
From Tam MacArthur Rim
Broken Top

South Sister:
From above Moraine Lake
South Sister Climbers Trail
From Tam MacArthur Rim
South Sister
From Fuji Mountain
South Sister

Middle & North Sister
From Tam MacArthur Rim
Middle and North Sister
From Scott Meadow
North & Middle Sister and Little Brother from Scott Meadow
From the South Sister
South Sister summit view

Mt. Washington
From the Matthieu Lakes Trail
Mt. Washington
From Fuji Mountain
Mt. Washington and Belknap Crater
From Three Fingered Jack
Mt. Washington and The Husband

Three Fingered Jack:

From the Matthieu Lakes Trail
Three Fingered Jack
From Canyon Creek Meadows
Three Fingered Jack from the upper meadow

Mt. Jefferson:
From Fuji Mountain (Dwarfing Three Fingered Jack)
Mt. Jefferson and Three Fingered Jack
From Hanks Lake
Hank's Lake
From Three Fingered Jack
Looking back down
From Bays Lake in Jefferson Park
Bays Lake in Jefferson Park

Mt. Hood:
From Barrett Spur
Mt. Hood from Barrett Spur
From Table Mountain
Mt. Hood from Table Mountain
From Elk Meadows
Mt. Hood from Elk Meadows
From Lamberson Butte
Mt. Hood
From Youcum Ridge
Mt. Hood from Yocum Ridge
From Timothy Lake
Mt. Hood from Timothy Lake

Mt. St. Helens:
Mt. St. Helens
From the Loowit Trail on Mt. St. Helens
Mt. St. Helens from the Loowit Trail
From Johnston Ridge
Mt. St. Helens

Mt. Adams:
From Silver Star Mountain
Paintbrush, penstemon and Mt. Adams

Mt. Rainier:
From Wildcat Mountain
Mt. Rainier

From the giant rock towers of the mountains we move on to the delicate meadows full of wildflowers that often times call the mountains home. We visited amazing wildflower displays near Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, and Three Fingered Jack but the Cascades were possibly outdone by Silver Star Mountain in Washington.
Bear Grass on Mt. St. Helens
Mt. St. Helens from a beargrass meadow along the Loowit Trail
Balsam Root and Paintbrush in the Ochoco National Forest
Paintbrush and balsamroot
Clearcut on Silver Star Mountain
Tarabell Trail
Meadow on Salmon Butte
An arnica in  a meadow of plectritis, larkspur and monkeyflower
Elk Meadows
Elk Meadows
Near Heather Creek on Mt. Hood
Wildflowers along the Timberline Trail at Heather Creek
Mt. Hood Meadows
Wildflowers in Mt. Hood Meadows
Lupine in Canyon Creek Meadows
Three Fingered Jack
On Coffin Mountain
Aster, penstemon and paintbrush
Avalanche Lilies on the Timberline Trail
Avalanche lilies
Western Pasque flowers and Paintbrush near Elk Cove
Mt. Hood from the Timberline Trail near Elk Cove
Barret Spur on Mt. Hood
Lupine and monkeyflower
Gentians in Jefferson Park
Jefferson Park
Wildflowers along the South Breitbenbush Trail
Along the South Brietenbush River in Jefferson Park
Wildflowers along the South Breitenbush River
Aster on Yocum Ridge
Aster field on Yocum Ridge
On Yocum Ridge
Wildflowers along the Yocum Ridge Trail
More from Yocum Ridge
Paintbrush and aster

There weren’t many hikes where the presence of water was not felt. We encountered it in various forms and in an array of colors. There were lakes, creeks, rivers, waterfalls, springs, and the Pacific Ocean adding sights and sounds to our hikes.
Roaring Creek
Roaring Creek
McKenzie River
Mckenzie River
Tamolitch Pool
Tamolitch Pool
Russell Lake
Mt. Jefferson from Russell Lake
Umbrella Falls
Umbrella Falls
Diamond Creek Falls
Diamond Creek Falls
Heather Creek
Waterfall on Heather Creek
South Matthieu Lake
South Mattieu Lake
Benham Falls
Benham Falls
Carver, Camp, and the Chambers Lakes
Carver, Camp and some of the Chambers Lakes
Lewis Tarn
Lewis Tarn
Creek near Pamelia Lake
Waterfall near Pamelia Lake
Timothy Lake
Timothy Lake
Little Crater Lake
Little Crater Lake
Frozen pond near Fuji Mountain
Half frozen pond
Birthday Lake
Birthday Lake
Ramona Falls
Ramona Falls
Pacific Ocean at Tillamook Head
View from Ecola State Park
Pacific Ocean from Cape Perpetua
Looking south from Cape Perpetua
Last but not least the most unpredictable of the sights out on the trails are the creatures that call these places home. From flying ants on Coldwater Peak to the black bear who left its tracks in the snow on Fuji Mountain we were the tourists traipsing through their neighborhoods. We spotted our first elk, snow shoe hare, and sooty grouse this year. We also had the mysterious case of “mouse rain” on Salmon Butte which you can read about here:
Crawdads in Middle Rock Lake
Tide pool at Cape Kiwanda
Rough skinned newt
Tree frog
Spider along the Tam McArthur Rim Trail
Bug on Fuji Mountain
Zerene fritillary butterfly
Swallowtail butterfly
Swallowtail butterfly
Edith's checkerspot
Milbert's Tortoiseshell Butterfly on the way up Coldwater Peak
Hoary Comma
Hoary Comma
Clodius parnassian
Bald eagle
Seagull buffet
Yellow-Rumped Warbler
Gray jay taking a bath
Duck family
Northern Flicker
Red Crossbill
Osprey flying over ducks on Timothy Lake
Canada geese
Ducks on Wall Lake
Great Blue Heron
Little guys
Douglas squirrel
Golden Mantled Squirrels
Snowshoe hare

Big Guys
Our first elk sighting. Near the Observation Peak Trailhead
Columbia Black Tailed Deer
Elk herd on the far shore of the Deschutes River
Deer near the Lower Black Butte Trailhead

We’d like to leave you with what each of us found to be their favorite hike and the most difficult. For myself Elk Meadows was my favorite. The variety and beauty we encountered on that hike put it atop my list. As for the most difficult I chose Silver Star Mountain which was also in the running for my favorite. The heat on that day made it the hardest one for me.

After much deliberation Heather chose the same hike as I did her favorite, Elk Meadows; something about that day had her mesmerized as we traveled up Gnarl Ridge towards Mt. Hood. For the most difficult she picked Observation Peak due in part to having fallen shortly after we stared the hike and spraining her hand and wrist. It made for a more challenging and uncomfortable hike as she endeavored to keep her injury elevated above her heart during most of the journey.

Dominique chose Fuji Mountain for his favorite. There was snow and a great view with a reasonable amount of distance. For the most difficult he picked Table Mountain and the climb up Heartbreak Ridge.

I am already hard at work putting together a 2014 itinerary which will include some overnight backpacking trips and hopefully visits to the Goat Rocks Wilderness and Mt. Adams in Washington. If all goes as planned we will kick things off in January, take things slow until we’ve recovered from our April half or full marathons, and then be ready to crank things up in May. Until 2014 here is a link to a 2013 hikes in pictures album on Flickr

Merry Christmas & Happy Trails!

High Cascades Hiking Mt. Hood Area Oregon Trip report

Yocum Ridge

Yesterday we completed what turned out to be our longest hike to date – Yocum Ridge. According to our 100 hikes guidebook the distance of the trail is 8.7 miles one way to a viewpoint of Mt. Hood’s Sandy Galcier. With that in mind we were anticipating a total distance around 17.5 miles, but by the time we were done exploring Yocum Ridge our garmin showed a total distance of 19.7 miles. :O Our original plan was to meet my parents at the trail head and hike together to Ramona Falls, but they were unfortunately unable to make it so Heather and I were off on our own just before 7am.

It was a cloudy morning as we crossed the Sandy River and made our way along Ramona Creek toward the falls.

Crossing the Sandy River
Crossing the Sandy River

Ramona Creek is one of the prettiest creeks we’ve hiked along, but the dense forest always seems too dark to get any pictures to really do it justice.

Ramona Creek
Ramona Creek

When we arrived at Ramona Falls it was just as impressive as we had remembered it from our first visit the previous July.

Ramona Falls
Ramona Falls

From Ramona Falls we took the Timberline Trail north for .7 miles to the Yocum Ridge trail and began our climb. We were presently surprised by the gentle grade of the trail which climbs nearly 3000′. The lower portion of the trail was heavily forested with lots of mushrooms and red huckleberries. We spotted one pika (and heard many more) and a small frog along the trail as well. The clouds were low and a light fog filled the trees making it impossible to tell if the trail offered any views. We passed a couple of small ponds and some meadows that had been home to flowers earlier in the year.

We were holding out hope that we would eventually climb above the clouds and into blue skies but we began to think that was just wishful thinking. We caught our break though as we approached the south side of the ridge near a rock field and wild flower meadow. When we came out of the trees in the meadow we were greeted by blue sky and sunlight. Looking up toward Mt. Hood the summit was visible above the tree tops.

Mt. Hood above the tree tops.
Mt. Hood above the tree tops.

The clouds were still all around so we decided to double time it up the trail not knowing how long the views would last. We were slowed by the increasingly scenic wildflower meadows and views to the south across Paradise Park to the distant summit of Mt. Jefferson.

Paint & aster meadow
Paint & aster meadow


Paradise Park & Mt. Jefferson
Paradise Park & Mt. Jefferson

As we hurried up the trail other flowers such as western pasque, bistort, fireweed, and groundsel showed up in the meadows. The trail then entered a series of spectacular meadows as it traversed around the ridge finally revealing a view of Mt. Hood.
Small clouds were passing in front of the mountain as we approached through the meadows. From this side of the ridge we had an up close view of Illumination Rock and the Reid Glacier.

Reid Glacier & Illumination Rock
Reid Glacier & Illumination Rock

The wildflower meadows were on all sides as the trail headed straight for the mountain.

The trail eventually came to the edge of the Sandy River canyon where melt water from the Reid Glacier feeds the Sandy River. A series of waterfalls could be seen (and heard) below.
We explored the area and spotted another good sized water fall further down and across the canyon. This one was flowing from the Paradise Park area down into the Sandy River.

Waterfall along the Paradise Park branch of the Sandy River
Waterfall along the Paradise Park branch of the Sandy River

We finally pulled ourselves away from the spectacular views and continued on the trail toward the north side of the ridge. The trail climbed as it crossed the ridge and passed through many more wildflower meadows. When we reached the north side of the ridge we found the clouds again. There was a bank of clouds settled over the valley between Yocum Ridge and McNeil Point. Here the trail turned up the ridge at it’s steepest grade. We reached a small saddle below the rocky cliffs that top the ridge where we found a couple of camp sites and lingering snow patches. To the right of the cliffs we could see blue sky, but on the left it was all clouds. We decided to continue on what appeared to be a faint path across loose rocks and sand to see if we could once again rise above the clouds. The “faint path” completely disappeared and visabillity was all but gone when we decided to turn around and go back. We looked at some trip reports later that showed we had been headed straight for the mountain with the Sandy Glacier to our left but we’d have never known it.

Heather returning on the “faint path”.

Back at the saddle the clouds began to rise keeping the mountain hidden but giving us a better look at the flowers surrounding this area. He we found lupine, cat’s ears, and even a few avalanche lilies. While exploring the tent sites we stumbled on a small group of scotch bluebells.

Avalanche lilies
Avalanche lilies
Cat's ear
Cat’s ear


Scotch bluebells
Scotch bluebells

When we started our return trip the clouds had risen from the valley floor giving us views below, but when we arrived at the Reid Glacier viewpoint Mt. Hood was hidden. We found a couple of fellow hikers here that we had met near Ramona Falls and asked if they had made it in time to see the mountain and they had not. We all stuck around waiting to see if we would catch another cloud break since there was still plenty of blue sky around. While we were waiting a Red Tailed hawk circled overhead checking us and the meadow out.

Red Tailed hawk
Red Tailed hawk

While I was attempting to catch the hawk in flight Mt. Hood decided to make an encore appearance.

Red Tailed hawk over Mt. Hood
Red Tailed hawk over Mt. Hood

The clouds continued to roll in allowing us brief glimpses of the mountain before we decided it was time to start our return trip.

On the way down we were provided some new views due to the rise in the cloud levels. We spotted the bottoms of Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Adams, Lost Lake, and the large waterfall coming from Paradise Park.
We stopped briefly at Ramona Falls where a large crowed now milled about and then continued on the final 3.4 mile leg along the Sandy River to our waiting car. It was a long hike and we only got to see half of the views, but in the end it didn’t matter. What we did see was amazing enough and now we have an excuse to return since we have unfinished business on the north side :). Happy Trails.

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High Cascades Hiking Mt. Hood Area Oregon Trip report

Barrett Spur via the Mazama Trail

After a short break following our vacation in Central Oregon we were back on the trails exploring the north side of Mt. Hood. Our scheduled hike was the Mazama Trail which climbs to the Timberline Trail along Cathedral Ridge. From the Timberline Trail we would head clockwise around the mountain passing through Cairn and Wy’East Basins to a viewpoint overlooking Elk Cove. Then the plan was to head up to Dollar Lake then on to the 7300′ knoll on Barrett Spur and go cross-country back down to Wy’East Basin and back to our car, possibly visiting Eden Park on the way back. If that sounds like a lot it’s because it was. 🙂

The forecast called for isolated thunderstorms beginning at 1pm so we made sure we got our usual early start. There had been a nice storm that came through the previous night and clouds lingered near the mountain as we drove toward the trail head.

Mt. Hood from Lolo Pass Rd.
Mt. Hood from Lolo Pass Rd.

When we arrived at the parking area a group from the Mazamas was camped there. We found out they had been doing trail maintenance for 4 days. One of the group informed us that Search and Rescue had come down the trail the day before looking for a hiker that was missing from the Ramona Falls area and that we should keep on the lookout (We found out later that he was found after the S&R team had spoken with the Mazama group). From the trail head we had a great view of Mt. Hood with Barrett Spur just below and to the left and Cathedral Ridge to our right.

The Mazama Trail was reconstructed by the Portland Mazama Club and they also maintain the trail. The group that had been doing the recent trail work had done an excellent job and the trail was in great shape. The trail sets off in a forest of Rhododendron but quickly comes to a rock slide which it switchbacks up through. After reentering the forest a second series of switchbacks ensue. This may have been the most switchbacks we’ve encountered in such a short distance but they made the climb a bit easier than it would have been otherwise. Near the bottom of the switchbacks we met a snowshoe hare on the trail.
Once we had completed the switchbacks the trail climbed more gradually sometimes through burnt forest and others in the green trees. The previous days rain kept the dust and ash from being an annoyance in the burnt sections and the 4.2 miles of the trail went by surprisingly quickly.

When we reached the Timberline Trail we took a left and headed for Cairn Basin. We had been on this section of the trial the previous year when we had hiked up the Top Spur Trail to McNeil Point. It was interesting to find that even though we were visiting almost two weeks earlier in the year the flowers were already at a later stage due to the low snow pack and early Spring. Still the displays were impressive.

We crossed Ladd Creek, passed through Cairn Basin, crossed another branch of Ladd Creek, and made our way to Wy’East Basin.

Aster field in Wy'East Basin
Aster field in Wy’East Basin

It would have been possible to head up to Barrett Spur from here, but we were unsure of the path so we decided to go on to the Elk Cove viewpoint and then up past Dollar Lake and try and come down to this point instead so I marked it on the Garmin for later reference.

The “unofficial” trail to Dollar Lake is approximately .7mi from Wy’East Basin, but we wanted to check out the Elk Cove viewpoint which was just an additional .2mi according to William Sullivan’s description. I didn’t do a very good job of reading his description though so we walked past the viewpoint and continued down the Timberline Trail toward Elk Cove a ways before I realized we had dropped further than we had intended. We consulted our topo maps, the garmin, and Sullivan’s book and climbed back to the correct viewpoint then walked back to find the path to Dollar Lake just as it was described in the guide book. The saving grace of the extra descent and subsequent climb was a nice field of western pasque flowers and paintbrush with a mountain view.

We took the path up to Dollar Lake and easily spotted the trail heading up Barrett Spur on the opposite side. We took the sometimes faint path up along the edge of Elk Cove’s Canyon. Flowers dotted the ridge adding color to the climb and below in Elk Cove a vibrant display of flowers surrounded a patch of melting snow.
At one point we heard an odd noise that we couldn’t place at first. We paused looking back down toward Elk Cove where the sound had come from when we heard it again. This time it was clear as a bell as it rose up the canyon walls, it was a Bull Elk bugling. 🙂

As we neared the knoll, clouds began to cover Mt. Hood and by the time we had reached the wind break atop it we were in the clouds and Mt. Hood was hidden.
We settled in at the wind break to have lunch and hopefully have the clouds pass which they quickly began to do. As they lifted we were gifted with some spectacular views of the mountain.

When it was time to head back down we could see the Timberline Trail below and after once again consulting our maps we decided on the correct ridge to follow down to Wy’East Basin. On the way up we’d spotted a small cairn that seemed to mark a possible path we could follow so when we reached it we veered left. A series of cairns led us along the ridge past several snow fields. Clumps of lupine and paint managed to grow amid the rocks in the gully.
We followed the path down through the gully and wound up right where we had hoped in Wy’East Basin.

Back on the Timberline Trail I threw out the idea of taking a slightly longer return route by dropping down into Eden Park. We decided a different path was worth the extra .7 miles and took the Vista Ridge Trail for .3 miles and then turned right on an unmarked trail toward Eden Park. More floral displays greeted us along the way and Eden Park did not disappoint.

From Eden Park we climbed back up to the Timberline Trail at Cairn Basin and hung a right to get back to the Mazama Trail. This time the trail felt all of the 4.2 miles despite the fact we were going downhill. When it was all said and done we had covered 16.2 miles and climbed a cumulative 5089′. The weather had remained nice despite the forecast and we still had a good view of the mountain as we prepared to drive home.
Happy Trails.

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