The best way to do McNeil

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aircooled
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The best way to do McNeil

Post by aircooled » July 21st, 2013, 10:03 pm

I try to get up to McNeil Point at least once a summer. It is possibly my all-time favorite hike and i think I've finally nailed the best way to do it.

Start at the Top Spur trailhead off FR Road 1828 and climb the 1/2 mile to the junction. At the junction, take the Timberline Trail in the Ramona Falls direction (counter clockwise) which brings you around Bald Mountain and facing the Sandy glacier. In no time at all you are treated to fields of wildflowers and spectacular views. Continue until you renter the woods and have left all the scenic vistas behind.

The ridge to your left should begin to level off and you'll spot an unmarked trail on the left which leads a hundred yards or so up the now far less imposing ridge. This user trail will connect you with the Timberline going toward McNeil and Cairn Basin (going clockwise). Follow the Timberline (trail 600) along the Bald Mountain ridge stopping for a break where the trail opens for more great views of the Sandy Glacier and McNeil Point. Continue hiking and you then descend a little, and then climb a little more steeply. The trail veers right and starts a few switchbacks.

After the last switchback, the trail takes a direct route north. Before you come to the first stream, look for a small user trail on the right as you are about to pass below McNeil Point. This user trail leads to a scramble up to the stone shelter. In .4 mile, you're there! Climb up from the shelter for even more spectacular views. (The trail continues almost as high as you'd want to go.)

Return via the normal route up, crossing flower-covered meadows and a talus slope until you reach a ridge above McGee Creek, with views of St. Helens and on a good day, Rainier.

On the return hike you pass two beautiful ponds and several enchanting little streams. This hike has it all! Ponds, streams, flowers, views, a fun scramble, more views, it just doesn't stop.

Spectacular views from the Bald Mountain trail
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Heading up the scrabmle trail, a.ka.a the "goat trail"

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Great views on the scramble trail!
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Some parts you might be using hands and feet
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One last little push and there's the stone shelter :)

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The trail continues up from the stone shelter
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Great views to the south of Yocum Ridge
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And of the mountain above!
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Looking west
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And down the Sandy
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Mt St. Helens
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Mt Adams
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Flowers everywhere!!!
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And a few campsites like this one - all above the shelter

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More flowers ... too many to count
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Beautiful ponds on the return trip
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And a waterfall
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Flowers along the trail
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Shadows across Yocum Ridge
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And one more shot of the mountain in the evening light
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Peder
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Re: The best way to do McNeil

Post by Peder » July 21st, 2013, 10:52 pm

Great pictures! I agree that is the best way to do McNeil Point.
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retired jerry
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Re: The best way to do McNeil

Post by retired jerry » July 22nd, 2013, 5:04 am

Nice! I gotta get up there!

I see the "7" and the "4" just starting to poke out of the snow in a number of your pictures :lol:

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mjuliana
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Joined: July 23rd, 2012, 2:32 pm

Re: The best way to do McNeil

Post by mjuliana » July 22nd, 2013, 9:31 am

Very nice... What time did you get to the TH? We were there just before 10 and the place was already packed. We took the longer way to the top but next time we will do the scramble up. I have the same shot of that one meadow with all of the heather and paintbrush. It was an awesome day to be up there.
Thanks,
Mike J

aircooled
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Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: The best way to do McNeil

Post by aircooled » July 22nd, 2013, 12:03 pm

mjuliana wrote:What time did you get to the TH?
We got a late start and hit the TH around 11:30. We had to park a ways down the road - that hike has gotten insanely popular, maybe more so since the Dollar Lake fire. (I'd love to see a TR from Wy'East Basin!)

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rainrunner
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Re: The best way to do McNeil

Post by rainrunner » July 22nd, 2013, 4:23 pm

Great trail report and photos ~~ especially the first one of Bald Mtn. When we talk to PCT thru hikers, we recommend this detour for the view ~~ one of our favorite of the mountain.
The mountains are calling and I must go.
John Muir

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nwfotobug
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Location: Gresham, Or

Re: The best way to do McNeil

Post by nwfotobug » July 28th, 2013, 6:27 pm

Your pics inspired our hike today! Thank you. What a glorious beautiful place. I felt so honored to have made it up there, and put this one under my belt. Gorgeous hike, well worth the work put in to get up there.
Living the life outdoors
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pdxnewbie
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Re: The best way to do McNeil

Post by pdxnewbie » July 30th, 2013, 2:59 pm

Does one need to haul all the water to camp on near the shelter or somewhere above the shelter like shown in this post.

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retired jerry
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Re: The best way to do McNeil

Post by retired jerry » July 30th, 2013, 3:08 pm

If you take the loop trail, rather than going straight up to McNeil Shelter, you cross a stream maybe 0.1 mile from the shelter. Reliable year-round in my experience.

One of my favorite places to camp out - all around there.

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mayhem
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Re: The best way to do McNeil

Post by mayhem » July 30th, 2013, 3:54 pm

Fantastic TR! I did this route reverse with my wife & Mutt. I really like going up the longer trail.
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