Timberline trail campsite question

Trip recommendations, current conditions, and other trail related Q&A
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Nodnf
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Timberline trail campsite question

Post by Nodnf » August 8th, 2019, 10:02 am

Hello, flatlander from Indiana bring a group to hike the trail in early September. We are hiking clockwise 4 nights, 5 days potentially looking to camp nite one, around Sandy river area. 2nd nite around Elk Cove. 3rd nite around Copper Spur shelter area. 4th around Newton Creek. Can anyone give me campsite intel for a group of 8 at any of these sites or smaller sites close together.

Thanks

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retired jerry
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Re: Timberline trail campsite question

Post by retired jerry » August 8th, 2019, 11:22 am

plenty of room for 8 people:

Sandy River - cross the river, go about 1/4 mile, there's a clear stream. Many places to camp before that, or a little after when you start climbing up before connecting with Ramona Falls trail

Elk Cove - take the Elk Cove trail down. Within 1/4 mile there are a number of campsites off side trails. Water from the Elk Cove creek

Cooper Spur - after you leave Cloud Cap, on the way up to Cooper Spur, there is a nice stream. Around the Cooper Spur shelter and all over there, there are many places to camp

Newton Creek - after you cross the creek, you go up maybe 0.1 mile and there's a nice stream. A couple campsites there but not a lot of room for 8. Maybe flat areas near Newton Creek. It's conceivable there could be a sudden increase in stream flow so don't camp too close.

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drm
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Re: Timberline trail campsite question

Post by drm » August 9th, 2019, 6:16 am

Jerry - Many places to camp around Cooper Spur Shelter? And water there in Sept? Not from what I've seen there. Last time I did the full loop I ran into so many people planning to camp next to the stone shelter and wondered where they would all end up.

Also note that if any of your camps are on Saturday night, you will have a lot of competition, especially if you get in late. Saturday would be a good day to try and get an earlier start so that you get first pick of sites.

Nodnf
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Re: Timberline trail campsite question

Post by Nodnf » August 9th, 2019, 7:25 am

We are hiking Monday thru Friday. Thanks for the information.

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retired jerry
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Re: Timberline trail campsite question

Post by retired jerry » August 9th, 2019, 8:32 am

good point Dean

I think you could find flat spaces to camp 1 mile in any direction from Cooper Spur shelter. Yeah, right next to the shelter might be crowded. Good point.

There is a stream that originates from the general area of the shelter and goes downhill from there going through Tilly Jane. It dries up higher up but I've always found water lower down. When the trail from Cloudcap up to the shelter reaches that creek bed, if it's dry, follow it downhill until you find water. You could always camp at Tilly Jane but there are cars there if that's an aesthetic problem.

keithcomess
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Re: Timberline trail campsite question

Post by keithcomess » August 18th, 2019, 9:05 am

I concur with Dean's assessment. I completed the loop <2 weeks ago. Many campsites were overcrowded (i.e., mostly occupied) and Elk Cove had a couple fouled with toilet paper...in the campsite! RE: Sandy River, the campsites on the stream were occupied and this was mid-week! I had the same experience on the Wallowa Loop last year. I encountered only a single ranger and she was carrying a shovel, remarking that it was to clean up human waste! The same scenario unfolded on the Enchantments through-hike a couple of years ago.

I've read that the USFS has considered restricting access to the TT and maybe that's a good idea in the abstract, but given the numerous access points and severely constrained budgets the agency faces, that's impractical because it's unenforceable. Certainly, the halcyon days of wilderness solitude are gone and not returning. Nonetheless, minimal impact hiking/camping would be optimal.

Thoughts?

Keith

Aimless
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Re: Timberline trail campsite question

Post by Aimless » August 18th, 2019, 11:02 am

Wilderness solitude is still quite available, if you are willing to diligently seek it out, but the most popular trails and the backcountry campsites associated with them are definitely becoming more crowded. The Timberline Trail is nearly a 'perfect storm' of factors that lead to popularity and overcrowding: it is close to an urban area; it allows access to alpine areas with a minimum of mileage and elevation gain during the 'approach' hike; it is a loop; it has a "brand name" similar to the PCT, Wonderland Trail or John Muir Trail, so it doesn't require much research to find it. About all it lacks are conveniently spaced lakes to camp at.

My advice is to consider the overcrowding on the TT as a given, until the current boom in hiking and backpacking runs its course. The last big hiking boom was in the late 60s through the 70s, as gear was greatly improved and the boomers were young and looking for adventure. This boom will eventually slow down, too, but maybe not for another decade or so. Until then, if you want solitude, just realize that it will take more time and effort to find it and adjust your habits accordingly.

keithcomess
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Re: Timberline trail campsite question

Post by keithcomess » August 18th, 2019, 1:47 pm

Aimless,

Thanks for your comment. I agree entirely re: TT and recognized that before my trip plans changed at the last minute (from Mt. Margaret, due to lack of water on a long section of the Boundary Trail to the TT). The TT was also very crowded in 2016 which was the last time I completed the loop.

Anyway, re: solitude, the last time I was out for an entire week without encountering anybody at all was in 1991 when I did a long loop in the San Rafael Wilderness. This is a wilderness area in the mountains of north central Santa Barbara County, California and is (or was) the condor refuge. A lot of it is high desert and - in one long segment across a scrub oak covered area called, "Hurricane Deck" - there was no trail at all. I think though that the solitude was due to prolonged drought conditions at the time: I went just a week after it "broke". Maybe cross-country map/compass skills eliminated some hikers and there was only a single point of access, too. Besides that, I can't recall another multi-day excursion during which I haven't met other hikers and, as time has passed, more and more and more of them.

Keith

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retired jerry
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Re: Timberline trail campsite question

Post by retired jerry » August 18th, 2019, 2:58 pm

Lots of solitude in the winter - Olympics, Rogue River, Deschutes River,...

October isn't too bad on Mt Hood, Trinity Alps stays open a little later,...

If you get off the trail in the summer you can find solitude. Like all those places Chip goes to. Or North or South from Camp Lake on Three Sisters. East of the PCT by North Sister.

I was camped at those two campsites just West of Muddy Fork in the summer. Nobody there. I zonked out early. When I got up in the morning there were maybe 20 people, different groups. I quickly packed and had my breakfast 1/4 mile away. I should have camped at a more obscure spot.

keithcomess
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Re: Timberline trail campsite question

Post by keithcomess » August 19th, 2019, 9:45 am

Good points, Jerry!

Keith

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