4 nights and days to ramble the north side of Mt Hood following either PCT or Timberline trail at the same time as last year’s ‘Loop Hike’ … the plan was fairly simple: Timberline Trail full north (east / west) side (including Cooper and Barrett spurs) and PCT from Timberline to Whatum Lake.
Plans need ‘on the ground’ clues to improve based on actual conditions – a riff on the original plan. What changed? A) the PCT north of Lolo Pass is boring and the black-flies were biting; B) all the first day hikers I met were going to McNeill Point (why not me?), and C) Elliott and Coe Creeks were raging and I did not want to cross either after noon (original plan had crossing them late afternoon 2nd time).
The actual hike went like this:
Day 1 – Leave car at Top Spur Trailhead, hike up Timberline Trail to Cooper Spur and then to Cloud Cap for camp
Day 2 – Cloud Cap on Timberline to PCT to Romona Falls for camp
Day 3 – Romona Falls on PCT past Lost Lake and then down to Lost Lake for camp
Day 4 – Lost Lake on PCT to Timberline to McNeill Point and to Cairn Basin for camp (Day 5 back to car)
Summary: North side of Mt Hood is spectacular the last week of July. Wildflowers, blowdowns, creek crossings and great people are the key take-aways from this year. Compared to last year, there were materially less people and I only saw 2 trail runners (PCT) the entire time. Wildflowers were close to peak, the glaciers were melting fast all day and the creeks raging from 10-11am, and the Labor Day 2020 windstorm created blowdowns on every trail with some closed.
People on both PCT and Timberline had a hard time understanding my hiking plans – Rambles; however, once they took the time to listen and understand, they were mostly jealous of my freedom to take hikes / destinations with limited constraints (time, energy and food). I absolutely love the north side, but on PCT once to Lolo Pass going north, turn around and spend the time on Hood.
Full trip report and photos are here: https://www.plansandclues.org/2021/08/01/mt-hood-n-side-ramble-2021/
@mdf59 - Wow! Thanks so much for sharing this. I took at look at your plansandclues.org page for the full report and it was loads of great information!
I especially liked the photos of the full moon sunrise and the stone mountain hut!
Glad to see you had such a great time. When someone else in the community comes asking about this stretch of the PCT and Timberline, we'll be sure to tag you so you can share your expertise!