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Boy Scout Ridge Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Mt. Hood and goldenrod, PCT-Timberline Trail, Boy Scout Ridge (bobcat)
Old growth, PCT, Boy Scout Ridge (bobcat)
Deer in the woods, PCT, Boy Scout Ridge (bobcat)
Timberline Lodge from the PCT-Timberline Trail, Boy Scout Ridge (bobcat)
The route of the Pacific Crest Trail up Boy Scout Ridge (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Barlow Pass TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: White River Viewpoint
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 10.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1640 feet
  • High Point: 5,800 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Summer into Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No



This section of the Pacific Crest Trail takes you from historic Barlow Pass into old growth groves with small meadows; then hike up the exposed alpine parklands of Mount Hood to a viewpoint overlooking the deeply gouged and unstable White River Canyon in the Richard L. Kohnstamm Wilderness. Elevation gain is gradual but the trail is relatively uncrowded and the plant life, views, and geology are fascinating.

Walk across the parking area to the shaded junction with a signboard and picnic area, and go left on the Pacific Crest Trail. Cross the route of the Barlow Road, marked by a colorful sign, and descend in a montane forest of mountain hemlock, silver fir, noble fir, and Douglas-fir with a few Engelmann spruce. Huckleberry and bear-grass dominate the understory. Pass two large Douglas-firs and reach a road bed, the former track of the first Mt. Hood Highway. Go right here to cross Highway 35 and then head up the trail in old growth forest. The trail is also marked with blue ski trail diamonds. Switchback and wind up among very large noble fir and Douglas-fir with an understory of silver fir. A viewpoint allows a vista west towards Multorpor Mountain. Pass a second viewpoint and then make a long, level traverse on a steep hillside as the trail runs on the western side of the ridge crest. Pass the junction with the Boy Scout Ridge Ski Trail Cutoff. The trail rises from here and passes a spring area, rimmed with Sitka alder, down to the right. Keep rising gently on the ridge crest through a thicket of huckleberry and white rhododendron. You will come to the first junction with the Yellowjacket Ski Trail and, 250 yards later, the second junction.

You are now in a woodland dominated by old-growth mountain hemlock and silver fir, the trail lined with lupine and huckleberry bushes. Pass a campsite and cross a stream below a marsh-marigold meadow. Drop a little to see another, larger meadow on the left. The trail then rises continuously, entering the Richard L. Kohnstamm Wilderness. Reach a viewpoint over the Salmon River Canyon and then get a vista up to the area of Timberline Lodge.

Soon enter alpine parklands with meadows of bear-grass, lupine, goldenrod, and aster dotted with mountain hemlock, subalpine fir, and whitebark pine. Continue one mile up the narrowing ridge after you reach the Pacific Crest-Timberline South Trail Junction. Vistas of Mount Hood to the White River Glacier and Palmer Glaciers as well as Illumination Rock, Crater Rock, and the Devil’s Kitchen begin to open up. The parklands become more open and you can look back down the Cascade Crest to Mount Jefferson and the Three Sisters. The trail is now on fine pyroclastic material, which can blow up into your eyes if it’s windy. Enter a copse of trees, and avoid stepping close to the dropoff on your right as this is a dangerous overhang. Get a view of Timberline Lodge and the Silcox Hut. The trail drops slightly to the White River Viewpoint, from which you can get a clear view down to a waterfall in the canyon. A layer of soil above the canyon floor reveals a few stripped tree trunks, the remains of a forest buried by over 100 feet of lahar from Mt. Hood’s Old Maid eruptions at the end of the 18th century. Unless you want to mingle with the crowds at Timberline Lodge, the viewpoint is a good place to turn around and head back to the Barlow Pass Trailhead.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Northwest Forest Pass (or America the Beautiful Pass) required from May 1 through October 31st
  • Oregon Sno-Park Permit required from November 1 through April 30
  • Port-a-potty and picnic table at the trailhead


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Pacific Crest Trail #2000 Barlow Pass to Lolo Pass (USFS)
  • Green Trails Maps: Mt. Hood, OR #462
  • Green Trails Maps: Mount Hood, OR #462S
  • Geo-Graphics: Mount Hood Wilderness Map
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Zigzag Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Hood River Ranger District
  • Discover Your Northwest: Mt. Hood National Forest North: Trail Map & Hiking Guide
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood
  • Adventure Maps: Mt. Hood Area

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • Best Old-growth Forest Hikes: Washington & Oregon Cascades by John & Diane Cissel
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland by Paul Gerald
  • 70 Hiking Trails: Northern Oregon Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • 62 Hiking Trails: Northern Oregon Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Day and Section Hikes, Pacific Crest Trail: Oregon by Paul Gerald
  • Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail: Oregon by Eli Boschetto
  • Pacific Crest Trail: Oregon & Washington by Jeffrey P. Schaffer & Andy Selters
  • Hiking Oregon’s Geology by Ellen Morris Bishop

More Links

Page Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.