Bald Mountain from Top Spur Hike
From Oregon Hikers Field Guide
- Start point: Top Spur Trailhead
- End point: Bald Mountain
- Trail Log: Trail Log
- Distance: 2.0 miles round-trip
- Elevation gain: 550 feet
- High Point: 4,591 feet
- Difficulty: Easy
- Seasons: July - November
- Family Friendly: Yes
- Backpackable: No.
- Crowded: Only to the Bald Mountain Spur Trail
This hike begins at one of the more crowded trailheads, but quickly moves to one of the most forgotten spots on the mountain. At the summit of Bald Mountain, you'll not only be treated with a stunning view of Mount Hood, but will also see traces of an old fire lookout that stood here in the 1940s. You'll likely have the summit to yourself.
From the Top Spur Trailhead, climb through handsome, old-growth noble fir forest for one-half mile before joining the Pacific Crest Trail (no. 2000). Turn right and immediately arrive at a confusing junction of four trails and Mount Hood Wilderness registration box. In 2010 new signs were been posted at this junction, making it slightly less confusing (albeit missing basic mileage and directional arrows). The trail to the right, and downhill, is the continuation of the Pacific Crest Trail (#2000) and is marked with a sign to Timberline Lodge. The route to the left is the northward section of the Timberline Trail (#600), with a sign to Cairn Basin. The trail straight ahead, and uphill, is the southbound section of the Timberline Trail (#600), with a sign to the Muddy Fork, and is the route to Bald Mountain.
From the registration box at the junction, continue on the Timberline Trail toward the Muddy Fork for about 450 feet, and then watch for an unsigned trail heading left and uphill, between two large trees (ignoring another boot path just beyond the junction, near a large stump, that dead-ends in the brush). This is the historic Bald Mountain Trail. Follow this rustic path over a couple of logs as you climb parallel to the Timberline Trail, below. After a few hundred feet, switchback left, and soon reach the more open forest on the slopes of Bald Mountain. The tread is always obvious, though you'll step over a number of fallen logs that have accumulated over the decades since this trail was maintained. They present only a minor obstacle along the way.
As you approach the summit, you'll re-enter a band of huckleberries and false azalea, and the trail will quickly level off on the broad, forested top of Bald Mountain. Walk through an opening in the woods, where concrete blocks mark the location of the former lookout. Here, the 40-foot trees around you mark the time that has passed since the lookout stood here in the 1930s, and the summit was open. The final few yards to the viewpoint at the east end of the summit curves through a thicket of alder and mountain ash, then suddenly ends at a steep overlook of the Muddy Fork valley, and a stunning view of the west face of Mount Hood, towering above.
There are convenient rock outcrops at the viewpoint for sitting down and enjoying the spectacle, and photo buffs will want to time their visit for late afternoon, when the scene is most dramatic. From the viewpoint, you can also see a section of the Timberline Trail, just below, where the steady stream of hikers will pass your lofty perch, oblivious to your location.
To complete the hike, simply follow the same route back to the trailhead -- and take a moment to clear twigs and brush from this beautiful old trail on your way down. This is the only maintenance that the trail gets, but it's just enough to keep it open for all to enjoy.
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Related Discussions / Q&A
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