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Difference between revisions of "Tilly Jane Loop Hike"

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

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* [https://www.oregonhikers.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=29957  Eliot Moraine/Tilly Jane Loop (July 26)}
* [https://www.oregonhikers.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=29957  Eliot Moraine/Tilly Jane Loop (July 26)]

Revision as of 03:17, 5 September 2021

Cooper Spur Shelter and Mount Hood (Tom Kloster)
The Tilly Jane Guard Station (bobcat)
Polallie Canyon from the Tilly Jane Trail (bobcat)
Mt. Hood and pine/hemlock parklands on the Tilly Jane Trail (bobcat)
The loop hike from the Tilly Jane Campground (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo/USFS
  • Start point: Tilly Jane TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • Ending Point: Cooper Spur Shelter
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 3.4 miles round-trip
  • Elevation gain: 1100 feet
  • High Point: 6795 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: July - November
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: On summer weekends


Hike Description

An alternate to the Cloud Cap Trailhead is the Tilly Jane Trailhead, which can be used to hike up Cooper Spur. You can also park here if you're going around Mount Hood on the Timberline Trail. In addition, there's a short loop hike in the area which allows you to visit three historic structures - the Tilly Jane Guard Station, the Cooper Spur Shelter, and the Cloud Cap Inn. On this loop, you will also experience some of the high alpine wilderness on this east slope of Mount Hood and enjoy views up the Eliot Glacier. There's also a campground at the Tilly Jane Trailhead.

Tilly Jane was the nickname of Caroline Ames Elliott, the wife of William S. Ladd, an early Portland businessman and politician who twice served as Portland's mayor. In 1889, Ladd and C.E.S. Wood purchased the Mt. Hood Trail & Wagon Company, which improved the wagon road up to Cloud Cap, where they constructed the Cloud Cap Inn. The Ladd family spent many summers at Cloud Cap Inn, whose name was suggested by C.E.S. Wood's wife, Nan.

From the trailhead, follow the Tilly Jane Trail #600A through the campground and past the 1934 guard station, constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The trail crosses the mossy gully of Tilly Jane Creek, passes an amphitheater, and reaches the Tilly Jane-Tilly Jane Ski-Polallie Ridge Trail Junction, where you'll keep right (the Tilly Jane Ski Trail #643 and Polallie Ridge Trail #643A are about 100 feet apart; a historic cooking shed and A-frame (ski warming hut) are just down the ski trail). Begin hiking uphill past a wilderness permit box into mountain hemlock/silver fir woods. The trail reaches the edge of Polallie Canyon and continues upward. There are two openings at the trail’s edge that give great views of the steep slopes at the head of the canyon where narrow waterfalls pour down. After this, you'll enter an alpine parkland and get full-on views of Mount Hood and the Eliot Glacier high above. The smaller trees here are mountain hemlock, white bark pine, and subalpine fir. There are great views back to Mount Saint Helens, Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, the Hood River Valley and Cloud Cap Inn below. When you reach a four-way junction, keep straight following a sign for Cooper Spur.

The spur is the hulking, rocky ridge straight ahead, but your route will only take you 100 yards on this trail before you notice the Cooper Spur Shelter on the right. Walk to the shelter on one of many informal paths, and take a moment to appreciate the architecture and construction. This rustic stone building has existed on the site for more than seventy years, surviving the avalanches that have gradually destroyed many of the other shelters along the Timberline Trail. After pausing to enjoy the shelter, continue north (right, if looking toward the mountain) past the building, following an excellent use path that leads toward the Eliot Glacier Moraine. This informal route dips into a tiny draw and then crests the moraine at an enormous cairn. The view from here is truly awesome, with the Eliot Glacier tumbling down the north face of the mountain and the occasional sound of ice creaking and weakened rock walls collapsing. When the wind is right, you can even smell the sulfur in the air from Mount Hood’s steaming crater.

Return to the Cooper Spur Shelter, and descend the short distance to the junction with the Timberline Trail. Make a left and descend through whitebark pine and mountain hemlock krummholtz. The trail turns down a gully, actually Tilly Jane Creek, which is a veritable heather rock garden. You'll pass above two gushing springs and keeping heading down the gully on a sandy track. After it departs from the gully, the Timberline Trail enters mountain hemlock and subalpine fir parkland. The bleached snags of whitebark pines killed by disease stand out, but younger whitebarks are replacing them. The route descends past some impressive mountain hemlocks, many of them snapped off, and reach a sharp junction. Here, keep right for Cloud Cap. The trail drops through silver fir/mountain hemlock woods to the junction, at a map sign, with the Tilly Jane Trail #600A.

To visit the Cloud Cap Inn, keep straight through a picnic area and reach a parking area and road. Cross the road and head up past a picnic table on a trail that ascends a rise to the building itself. There are often paying guests staying here, so don't go inside unless invited.

Return to the Timberline Trail junction and go left. It's about half a mile to the Tilly Jane Trailhead. Cross a creek and enter the 2008 Gnarl Ridge Burn for a short time. The trail descends into a gully and out of the burn into shady mountain hemlock woods. Soon, you'll reach the Tilly Jane Guard Station, where you can turn left to arrive at the trailhead.


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Mt Hood, OR #462
  • Geo-Graphics: Mount Hood Wilderness Map
  • Adventure Maps: Mt. Hood Area
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest
  • Discover Your Northwest: Mt. Hood National Forest North: Trail Map & Hiking Guide
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Hood River Ranger District
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood Wilderness
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Northwest Forest Pass (or America the Beautiful Pass) required at Cloud Cap Trailhead and Tilly Jane Trailhead
  • Campground, pit toilet
  • Historic structure
  • Self-issued wilderness permit; wilderness rules apply

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • Day Hikes in the Pacific Northwest by Don J. Scarmuzzi
  • Oregon: The Creaky Knees Guide by Seabury Blair, Jr.
  • Hiking Oregon's Mount Hood & Badger Creek Wilderness by Fred Barstad

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.