Timberline Loop

The Timberline Loop is a 42 mile (or so) trail that completely circles Mt. Hood. Betsy and I did the loop on Labor Day weekend and did it in the CCW direction - opposite of the direction most people do it. This way we were not competing with the holiday weekend crowds and we got the hardest parts (with the most altitude changes) done the first day. We also went farther that first day, with our mileages being 17, 15 and 10 miles. The weather was hot and smoky from wildfires in the region, but the first day was not as smoky.

I lost some photos because of a problem with my camera (which may get retired with a hammer soon) and also because it just got too hazy and smoky on the second and third days to justify a lot of photos.

Starting from the Timberline Lodge (one of two places were you can drive to the trail), this was the view of Mt. Hood as we descended a thousand feet to the White River

After climbing back up that thousand feet, the trail is relatively flat while crossing the Mt Hood Meadows ski area for a few miles, with some decent views of the mountain

It's late in the year for wildflowers, but here were some western pasque flowers, otherwise known as hippie heads

The waterfall in Heather Canyon, at the far end of the ski area

And Betsy crossing branches at the lip of the falls

With Heather at the left, we see the larger Clark Canyon that it is a part of

This is Newton Canyon, with Gnarl Ridge on the far side. The trail loops around the high point, called Lamberson Butte, and then follows the ridge line, for the longest climb of the day: 1700 feet.

The trail is quite pleasant while looping around Lamberson Butte

Then gets quite stark above, here at about 6600 feet on Gnarl Ridge

This is taken at the Timberline High Point at 7300 feet, where there area few small campsites and some streams

Approaching the High Point

Even more stark north of the High Point, with Mt Adams in the distance (Adams would not be visible the next day)

Finally, Cloud Cap Inn in the distance. The trail passes through the nearby car campground

After dealing with the long drop to cross the Eliot Creek (a tricky crossing on logs - many preferred to wade, photos lost due to my !@^$*# camera) and climb back up, we camped near Compass Creek. It was an 11 hour day and we were beat. The next had minimal elevation change by comparison but with the wildfire smoke having moved in, I took fewer pics.

Here is a gorgeous cascade that shows the different flavor of the hiking from the previous day's alpine terrain

And a nice shaded trail to protect from the relentless heat of the heatwave

This led to the Muddy Fork, the only crossing that required a wade, about knee deep

Soon after, we crossed the Sandy River on a log and you can see the effect of the smoke

Immediately after we entered the canyon of Rushing Water Creek and were thrilled to find all the camps still available. It's a deep canyon of thick forest and lush undergrowth and the temperature dropped by 10 degrees in a matter of seconds. Unlike the previous day, after 15 relatively easier miles, we got in at 4:30 and had time to relax.

The last day started with the biggest climb of the trip, about 2000 feet. But it was almost completely shaded and a nice gradual gain first thing in the morning.

Eventually you get a great view of the chasm that the Sandy River descends

Still smoky, but this part of the hot hike had fabulous huckleberries, which really help make up for the weather

In the final push to get back to the Timberline Lodge, the biggest obstacle is Zigzag Canyon, but a few miles later, we were done.