Mt Hood Trail Suggestions

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  • #23326

    I’ll be in Portland in a few weeks as my wife is running the Mt Hood Marathon.

    I’ll be purely support mode so I intend to do some solid trail running while we’re out there. I’m running some climbing races (The Bear, Pike’s Peak Ascent) in the next few months so I really want to make use of the vertical on Mt Hood, but also get in some scenery too if possible.

    Right now I’m just blindly scoping out trails using various websites and Garmin’s course creator tool. I’d like no more than 3-4 hours of running/powerhiking so that probably means anywhere from 10-15m depending on the terrain.

    Anyone have any suggestions for routes that fit that bill?

Posted In: Mountain Running

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    Steve House on #23334

    I have never lived in that part of Oregon, so I’ll leave it to the locals to answer. But in the meantime, have you watched this?

    Easily Find Training Locations When Traveling

    It’s a short video on how to find training locations/trails. I’m sure you’re already doing some of this, but it may have some helpful tips.

    briguy on #23361

    That’s excellent, thanks for sharing.

    I don’t have Gaia GPS but I used the Garmin Heatmap similarly to how Strava was shown. One of the advantages of exploring courses in Garmin like this is that I can directly create a course and send it to my watch from the website. Strava has the advantage of probably having more users though (Garmin users + Suunto/Polar/etc + Applewatch/Phones).

    Rachel on #23362

    You could do parts of the Timberline trail and there are a lot of places to park. You could do some of the climber’s trail if you want more vert. Timberline trail has lots of vert though going up and down from those rivers.

    Rachel on #23363

    Also AllTrails is super helpful for finding trails. And I use Strava some too but it’s not as easy to search for trails on that.

    PaulB on #23389

    Timberline Trail is a good one with lots of options.

    Zig Zag Mountain(s) has good views as does Tom Dick and Harry Mt.

    Cooper Spur Trail from the ski area would give you great views and good vertical.

    There’s some great trail runs on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge and you can put together some solid vertical but I’m not sure if all the trails are open after the fire a couple years ago.

    If you’re in the city, head to Forest Park.

    todd.struble on #23408

    I’m a local! There are tons of trails that fit the bill, and I think all of them will be melted out by the end of June/July. The Timberline Trail as Rachel mentioned is a great option, especially if your partner is willing to drop you off at a trailhead and pick you up somewhere else like Timberline Lodge. Most of the hiking or trail running on Hood goes along or intersects with the Timberline Trail at some point, along with the PCT.

    Off the top of my head, I’d say check out Paradise Park. It’s very scenic and has a few options. You can do it starting from Timberline Lodge which includes more of a traverse and the up-and-down of crossing the Zig Zag runout. Alternatively, you can start from the Paradise Park trailhead near the Twin Bridges campground. That’s more of a straight up and down route with a bit more vertical and a bit more mileage. You could even go point-to-point and have your partner drop you off at the Paradise Park Trailhead or the Ramona Falls trailhead and then use the Timberline Trail to meet at Timberline Lodge. I think those are all in the 10-15 mile range too. If you take the Ramona Falls trail, take the detour to check out the falls though – it’s not that far and worth the view.

    If you want just maximum vertical, then I’d suggest going over to Cooper Spur. Park at the ski resort and use the Tilly Jane trail to the Cooper Spur stone shelter and then to tie-in-rock. It’s about 4500 ft of gain over five miles one way according to my TrainingPeaks data from when I skinned up there in early May. This area is also where the higher elevation sections of the Timberline Trail exist, so if you’re looking for training at 5000ft+ trails in this area are probably what you’ll want to explore.

    You could also do the climber’s trail at Timberline, (bring your skis if you like!) that’s also a lot of vertical. It’s a bit crowded but still a nice uphill hike with good views. If you’re comfortable traveling on snow you can get pretty high (~9500 feet) before you start feeling like technical gear would be a good idea.

    If you have trouble figuring any of these routes out let me know and I can try to explain in more detail.

    briguy on #23424

    Excellent info, thanks all.

    I guess I was on the right track as some of the trails I targeted were mentioned above. I’ll run down my list and some further opinions would be awesome.

    Hidden Lake to Timberline – This was one of my options for that “long” effort I mentioned. Taking this from Hidden Lake Trailhead all the way to Timberline Lodge (for a beer) and then back. This will be about 13m with a max elevation of 7000′ but gaining roughly 4000′ in that span (most of that in the first 6m). I actually think I might like this better now based on Todd’s suggestion to get dropped off. Originally I was going to let my wife hang out at the hotel while I’m gone but she might prefer to drop me off and then meet me at Timberline Lodge for that beer! If I do this, I can add some distance on the Timberline and finish at the lodge instead of making that a midpoint.

    Cooper Spur Trail – 10.3m roundtrip – I like this one a lot for a ton of vertical, but it’s about 45-60min further drive from where we are staying in more-downtown Portland.

    Barret Spur Trail – 9.9m roundtrip – On the North side of the mountain so based on the snow comments above (which I honestly hadn’t even considered) I’d imagine this will have more of the white stuff.

    Cast Creek to Burnt Lake – 14.6m loop – Supposedly this is very scenic.

    PaulB on #23426

    @briguy, I had misread your first post as 10-15km instead of 10-15 miles. Yes, Barrett Spur is a fantastic run/hike, you can do a lollipop route from any of the trailheads and around Elk Cove. You could also check out McNeil Point and Cairn Basin, or do for the longer end of your target range and combine Elk Cove and Cairn Basin.

    The Cast Lake to Burnt Lake is in the Zig Zag Mt area and you can do multiple routes to get more or less vertical, and yes it’s very scenic.

    The Oregon Hikers page has quite a few hikes on it. To get extra mileage and/or vertical, you can use it in conjunction with CalTopo, or your preferred topo program, and get creative.

    briguy on #23519

    Thanks Paul. I still have two weeks to figure out my route, these are all great suggestions.

    briguy on #24368

    So I had a great long weekend in the Portland and Mount Hood area. Here’s what I ended up doing:

    Friday early AM – I took Hiddenlake from the trail head up to the Pacific Coast Trail and then went east to Timberline lodge. There I found a trail that took me up to the 2nd to highest chair lift station at roughly 7000′. 13+ miles roundtrip with 4000′ of total gain (all in the first half). This was an epically beautiful run. Wilderness singletrack, snow patches starting at 5000′, running across the bottom portion of glaciers and culminating with Timberline lodge where they shot The Shining. They’re still skiing there too (said they do all the way through August). One of the best parts is I didn’t see a soul until I was about 2m from Timberline Lodge. Not much “running” as I did a lot of powerhiking but that’s good training too.

    Saturday – My wife was in the marathon so I had to get to her finish so I again woke early and squeezed in an early AM 6m run over at Forest Park downtown. Beautiful park and hard to believe it’s sitting in the middle of the city.

    Sunday – This was Paradise Park trail to its peak, then over to Timberline Lodge. Instead of an out/back I did a point-to-point since my wife could meet me at the finish this time. Paradise Park trail is pretty close to Hiddenlake and they run parallel up the mountain, but it also continues up a bit higher as well. This run was more eventful in that I ran into a significant amount of deadfall, and lost the trail for a good 10-15 minutes as I navigated all the huge fallen trees in my way. At some point I found where someone had blazed a bushwhack with pink ribbons which I followed until I was back on trail again. Be aware of this if you happen to run/hike this trail relatively soon after this post. After this, things went smoothly. When I passed the PCT/timberline and continued up, the trail was just stunning with the green meadow in the foreground framed with snowy Mount Hood in the background. Like the swiss alps I’ve seen in the movies. Descended back to the PCT/Timberline and headed over to meet my wife at Timberline Lodge for a well-earned beer on their patio with the big mountain overlooking us. 12+ miles with 4400′ of gain, but only 1600′ loss so it was a slow grind.

    Wonderful weekend of adventures. Thanks to everyone who provided tips and advice!

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