Timberline TR Attempt June 2019

TimberlineTr2019PP - 18

The goal was to complete Timberline Trail loop for the 3rd year in a row, but Snow and Weather dictated a different outcome. Scheduling this year required that I attempt the Timberline Trail on June 17th. Yes, a bit early but I knew there would be rewards of clear skies and few people. TimberlineTr2019PP - 2However, I did not think the snow depth on the Northeast side would create such a problem. Combine that with a snow storm that emerged from the gorge when we would have been crossing the high point and we had to adjust to a Top Spur extraction. Overall it was an Epic Adventure because I have never seen the views so clear and brilliant, rhododendrons blooming and nobody on the trail.

This is my annual trek to evaluate how old my body feels and I am very pleased with the results. My main concern for completing the loop was the severity of the river crossing, but they were totally acceptable.

I can’t believe I didn’t worry more about the snowpack on the northside. It wasn’t that you could hike over the snow, it was how it created severe inclines over what was the trail and then it engulfed the trail. We made it to the Wy’East area clockwise from Timberline Lodge before we determined that we had to abort. Of course we had already met 3 backpackers who had turned around. I do think we could have made it if it wasn’t for the weather. All week the forecast just kept getting worse with the prediction of snow. And the forecast turned out to be more than accurate which made for a tough night at Eden Park and the hike out to Top Spur.

Knowing that the best weather was at the beginning I decided to do my traditional clockwise route from the lodge and boy am I glad we did. Paradise Park was amazingly beauty and it looked like we may have been one of the first to spend the night up there.

We almost got a great sunset but the sun hitting Hood at the different intensities is just as good. Unfortunately we did have fairly high winds at our Split Rock campsite and then we got a couple of hours of rain starting at sun up.

The weather cleared to give us a perfect hike down to the Sandy with the most amazingly clear views of the Sandy River headwaters up to Mt Hood.

The river crossing was challenging but we did not have to get very wet.

Of course Ramona Falls was gloriousTimberlineTr2019Post - 3 and the hike up to Top Spur junction was hard since we took the lower Muddy Fork route where one from our party exiting to the Ramona Falls TH. As I mentioned the flowers we exceptional.

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The second night we camped at Bald Mountain with a perfect night for sleep. Climbing up toward McNeil we were treated to a beautiful view of Hood, but fog and clouds were forming.

This is when the snow pack got higher than I expected. Not a real problem until about Eden Park where it became more treacherous and difficult to find the trail.

The rest of the way over to Wy’East only got more difficult, but it was still beautiful because the storm was forming to the north and Hood was backed by blue skies. Wy’East was the decision point because you have cell reception there and we had to coordinate for someone to extract us. We decided on Top Spur for the following day hoping that maybe we could get to McNeil Point.

But no, the weather started to deteriorate and we were happy to camp at Eden Park. The snow started to fall at 2 am and it was a cold wet mess for the rest of the trip out. This trek did provide some inspiration for my post about how complicated my dog Brook is: My Dog is Complicated

Previous Timberline Trail Reports

About ghsmith76

Backpacker, Grandfather, Volunteer, Advisor, Mentor and still Technologically Aware. Greg retired as a technologist who served as a Chief Information Officer in Higher Education at various universities. Prior to the IT career in Academia, Greg was a Systems Consultant with Hewlett-Packard. Other early jobs included IT activity in the oil shale and coal mining industries along with owning a computer store in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Posted on June 21, 2019, in @AussieBrook, Backpacking, Mt Hood, Mt Jefferson, Northwest, Oregon, Pacific Northwest, Wilderness and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Great trip report. I think I will wait until August to do the loop. I used a Big Agnes similar to yours on the AT in 2017 but ended up trading it out for a tent with a side entry – too hard to get in and out of when nature calls during the middle of the night!


    • I agree about the Big Agnes, but I do appreciate the slightly lighter weight. I will probably still use my REI Quarter Dome for the side entry convenience on shorter treks.


  2. Michael plummer

    I am thinking of doing the Timberline Trail on 6/30. What are your thoughts in regard to trail conditions given what you experienced on your trip? I can’t find anything on the Forest Service site for trail conditions.


    • The trail is in great shape except for the sections covered by snow. However, hiking over this snow is not that tough and I would expect that in another week the more difficult steep sections will be moderated by snow melt. The hike over high point will be all snow but it should be hard pack and doable. Of course the weather will be your determining factor. We would have gone forward if not for the storm that got in our way.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank for the last reply Greg. I’m thinking about attempting it next weekend but will definitely pay attention to the forecast!


  4. Looks like a lovely hike. I really like how you said,”This is my annual trek to evaluate how old my body feels…” I think we all have something like that. How cramp does your tent get with your dog?


  5. Great pics. Thanks for the report. I’m doing this hike solo next weekend. My wife and I tried this 2 years ago but had to bail out at Cloud Cap when my wife fell crossing Coe Creek and hurt her knee. Looking forward to this one!


  6. Greg, wonderful report. You inspired me so this year I went with my two sons and hiked over the Tetons from the Idaho side to the Wyoming side over Hurricane Pass through Cascade Canyon (about 20 miles with summit at 10,590′). Nothing like your adventures but I loved it and am ready for the next adventure.


  7. Greg, thanks for this report. My son and I plan to take this on starting July 4, so hopefully there will have been enough snow melt combined with good weather to make it possible. I was turned around twice with a group of friends due to incoming weather, once the last weekend of September (we deserved that), and then the last weekend in August (we didn’t even have tents!) when storm descended on us at Cairn Basin and we hiked all the way back to Timberline in a day. I managed to complete it in 2016 with my then 17-year-old daughter before the Eliot crossing was repaired.

    Question: your report reads like you took the trail west from Ramona Falls downhill to the lower Muddy Fork crossing and then back up to Balk Mtn. was that because of concerns about snow on the higher route or for another reason?

    Thanks again.



    • Gary:
      We took the lower trail west of Ramona because we had to help one of our backpackers exit at that Trailhead. I would typically take the high route, but that stream walk area on the low route is beautiful.


  8. Follow up: if anyone is on the trail and can update on the conditions before July 4, I would love that intel before we set out.
    emial: gdgpdx@gmail.com
    Gary Granger


    • I do think the Timberline Trail will be fine. There will be snow on the North side but if the weather is good I don’t think there will be a problem. And so far the weather looks good, especially for starting on the 4th. I will be doing some research this week and will update on what I find.


  9. Hi Greg – thanks for a great report! Like Gary above, my husband and I are trying to do Timberline early in the season. We just spoke to some rangers who said that much of the trail is still covered in snow and that we wouldn’t be able to attempt it now, but we are still holding out hope and not abandoning plans just yet. Our timing would be heading up later this week, for three full days hiking Friday-Saturday-Sunday (July 3, 4, 5). We could get a few miles in Thursday evening to get a head start if that would help at all, too. Would love to hear any additional intel you discover this week – I can’t find anyone else who has been up there yet this season.

    Thanks in advance for any info you have, really appreciate it!


    • There is a report for the Timberline Trail on the https://www.oregonhikers.org site for a week ago. Yes, snow was a bit of a problem and will need to be considered for the Northwest side but good weather sure does help. I will be on the Timberline Trail 7/6-10. Trekking poles will help and maybe consider crampons.


  1. Pingback: My Dog is Complicated | The Adventure Continues

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