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Town to Timberline Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Mt. Hood from Timberline Lodge (bobcat)
Cascade mariposa lily (Calochortus subalpinus), Alpine Trail (bobcat)
Multorpor Mt., Eureka Peak, Mt. Jefferson from Alpine Trail (bobcat)
Spreading phlox (Phlox diffusa), Alpine Trail (bobcat)
Snow gully, Mountaineer Trail (bobcat)
Skunk-cabbage swamp, Crosstown Trail, Government Camp (bobcat)
The loop hike from Government Camp to Timberline Lodge (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Summit Rest Area TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End points: Timberline Lodge
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 9.0 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2090 feet
  • High Point: 6,065 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Summer into fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Description

In the good ol’ days, before there was a surfaced road or even a Timberline Lodge, skiers and hikers wishing to reach the timberline from Government Camp had to slog the three miles and 2,000 feet up the slope using the traditional routes of the Alpine and Glade Trails. A network of trails still exists on this slope, now augmented by mountain biker routes, and hikers will find this a quiet journey (until Timberline Lodge, that is) early in the summer, when some big snow banks discourage most bikers. The route described follows the Alpine Trail, crosses the open slopes above the Lodge, and then descends via the looping Timberline to Town Trail to the more direct Glade Trail. Huckleberries abound along the Alpine and Glade Trails in August, and there are frequent views south to the central Cascades from both of these routes.

This is also an excellent snowshoe hike, sticking to the Alpine and Glade Trails, but just stay out of the way of skiers!

From the west end of the rest area parking, walk up the ski slope between the Summit Ski Area cafeteria and a pumphouse. Mount Hood rears above the clearing of this bunny ski run. About 225 yards above the parking area, you’ll see a tall trail sign and power poles to your left at the east end of a residential street. Head in here, and follow the Crosstown Trail #755 to the Crosstown-Camp Creek Loop Trail East Junction. Go right here on the Campcreek Loop #754, and begin hiking uphill on “Waterline Road” in a dry slope forest of lodgepole pine, Douglas-fir, and mountain hemlock. Huckleberries ripen here in late August, and lupine blooms in July. Chipmunks rustle in the bushes. Pass a large wood water tank on the left and then a campsite on the right. At the Alpine-Camp Creek Loop Trail Junction, keep right on the Alpine Trail #660.

Reach the top of the Summit ski slope, and keep left on the Alpine Trail. Pass the junction with the Westleg Ski Trail, and soon you’ll come close to Westleg Road. Keep straight at this four-way junction, getting more views up to Mount Hood. The track becomes steeper and more rubbly, and you’ll probably find a few small trees down. As you ascend through huckleberries, bear-grass, and lupine, the tread becomes singletrack, and you begin to get views south to the forested prominences of Multorpor Mountain and Eureka Peak as well as farther to Olallie Butte and Mount Jefferson. A rather frayed cable is exposed down the middle of the trail. The path widens again, and the summer blooms include pussypaws, lupine, mariposa lilies, phlox, and Martindale’s desert parsley. Subalpine fir inserts itself into the forest mix. Views expand to include the breadth of Tom Dick and Harry Mountain. Cross the Westleg Nordic Bypass Ski Trail, and join a ski run to swish up through a carpet of sedges: deer and elk also come out into these artificial clearings in the evenings. Reach the Stormin’ Norman ski lift, and pass to the left of it: the Alpine Trail officially heads out to Westleg Road from here, but continue hiking a short distance up the ski run until you encounter the Glade Trail.

Go right on this mountain biking trail, and cross a heavily buttressed gully to wind up the slope, passing more ski trail signage. The Glade Trail winds in and out of the Glade ski run until it reaches the Mountaineer-Glade Trail Junction just west of the Magic Mile ski lift, which operates all summer. Go right here to hike east to Timberline Lodge.

From the back of the lodge, take one of the trails that leads up to connect with the Timberline Trail, here also the Pacific Crest Trail, and head west across the open alpine slope. In summer, these slopes scurry with golden-mantled ground squirrels and bloom with alpine aster, Newberry’s fleeceflower, and dwarf lupine. Pass under two chair lifts, the Magic Mile and Stormin’ Norman, and then cross the westernmost ski run, Kruser, before entering a parkland of subalpine fir and mountain hemlock. Reach the four-way Timberline-Mountaineer Trail West Junction, and go left on the Mountaineer Trail #798. Pass a short spur to the site of the old Timberline cabin. A few broken pieces of the chimney remain. Traverse through mountain hemlock parklands, cross the Kruser run, and drop under the Stormin’ Norman chair lift before arriving at the Mountaineer-Timberline to Town Trail Junction. (After about mid-July, when the woods are melted out, more mountain bikers will be using the Timberline to Town Trail, so it’s recommended that you head back to the Glade Trail, and follow that trail down instead.)

Make a right onto the Timberline to Town mountain biking trail, and be prepared for some big loops heading down into pristine mountain hemlock woodlands. Pass under the Stormin’ Norman chair lift again, and cross the Spraypaint and Kruser runs before reaching the ski area boundary, marked by bright orange signs. Enter a mountain hemlock slope with lupine, fleeceflower, woodrush, and desert parsley carpeting the glades. Even in mid-summer, there might be significant snow banks under the trees here. Subalpine fir, silver fir, and Engelmann spruce complement the conifer mix. The trail makes its wide gentle loops down the slope until it meets the Kruser run again at the Glade-Timberline to Town Trail Junction, where you’ll get an expansive view south to Mount Jefferson.

From this junction, take the direct route down the Glade Trail #661 in a carpet of kinnikinnick, bear-grass, lupine, and huckleberry. The forest mix transitions to lodgepole pine and Douglas-fir. Across the pass, the scree slopes of Tom Dick and Harry Mountain rear above the runs at Skibowl. The trail levels briefly, and then drops to join a powerline maintenance track. Go left at the Glade-Skiway Trail Junction. (The Skiway Trail #755B is the old alignment of the suspended, but very slow, Skiway bus that carted skiers up the slope in the early 1950s.) Next, arrive at the five-way Glade-Crosstown-Timberline to Town Trail Junction, and take the second left – the first left is the Timberline to Town Trail – to head east on the Crosstown Trail #755.

The Crosstown Trail proceeds along a slope through a beautiful forest of western red-cedar, Douglas-fir, silver fir, and mountain hemlock. Cross a boardwalk over a skunk-cabbage swamp, and then, just past an impressive silver fir, pass over one of the several sources of Camp Creek that issue from large springs in this area. Keep right at the Crosstown-Camp Creek Loop Trail West Junction, and arrive at another bridge. In these woods, you might surprise a deer or two; look also for large pileated woodpeckers flitting from snag to snag. There are two more large bridges, the second one over the fast-flowing main channel of Camp Creek (The bridges are wide enough to accommodate trail groomers in the winter). Cross a running seep, and arrive at the Crosstown-Camp Creek Loop Trail East Junction. Stay right to reach the Summit ski run and return to your car.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • SnoPark permits required November 1st through April 30th
  • Share some trails with mountain bikers

Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Note that none of these maps includes all of the trails mentioned:
  • Government Camp Recreational Trails (Government Camp Marketing Council)
  • Green Trails Maps: Mount Hood #462S
  • Green Trails Maps: Government Camp, OR #461
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Zigzag Ranger District
  • 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 hike

  • Hikes & Walks on Mt. Hood by Sonia Buist & Emily Keller
  • 62 Hiking Trails: Northern Oregon Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • 70 Hiking Trails: Northern Oregon Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Best Trail Runs: Portland, Oregon by Adam W. Chase, Nancy Hobbs, and Yassine Dibboun (partial)

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.