Portland Hikes News and Conditions:
August 29, 2013

Okay, folks, looks like the weather will be fantastic for Portland hikes this Labor Day Weekend, so let’s get out there and do this thing!

McNeil Point is one of the best Mount Hood hikes.
Much loveliness in the high country these days!

Basically, we are entering the magic time of year when you can do any hike you want. The flowers are still out on Mount Hood, the bugs have almost completely died off, and other than a couple road closures and minor fires, all is well. I recommend the high country right now, and to stay away from the really popular ones like Eagle Creek, Angels Rest, and so on.

I’ll be on at least two trails this weekend, but meanwhile here is what I have gathered for Portland hiking news and conditions this week:

  • Cloud Cap Road is going to be closed for the year, it sounds like. The Forest Service says they have to take out 5,000 dead trees to make it safe for anybody. That’ll be quite the project. This affects the Cooper Spur Hike greatly. You can still do it, but now you have to park at the base of the road, by Cooper Spur Ski Area, and hike the Tilly Jane Trail, which gains 1,800 feet in about 3 miles, to Tilly Jane Campground. From there it’s another 1.1 miles to the Timberline Trail and Cooper Spur Shelter, and from there it’s two miles and 1,900 feet to Cooper Spur! That’s a big day — something like 14 miles and 5,000 feet of gain! The trail up there is pretty cool, though:
portland hikes cooper spur tilly jane
The Tilly Jane Trail towards Cooper Spur is a study in post-fire forests.


  • Go to McNeil Point instead — but get there early. And remember that part of Lolo Pass Road is still closed through this weekend, but there’s an easy detour to Top Spur. This also affects the Vista Ridge hike but not Ramona Falls or anything on ZigZag Mountain.
  • There is a fire on the Barlow Ranger District, northeast of Mount Hood, that doesn’t seem to affect any popular hikes. And from Cooper Spur the other day I didn’t even see much smoke. Here is the report on Government Flats Fire, and here’s the road closure list.
Paradise Park from Timberline Lodge is one of the best Mount Hood Hikes.
Get ’em while they last!


  • The Paradise Park Hike was awesome with flowers on August 19, but are probably fading fast. We’re getting to late prime time on Mount Hood flowers, and this weekend will be nuts up there with people, but it’s still worth it.
  • Speaking of Timberline Trail, it still has a major washout at Eliot Creek, between Cloud Cap and Elk Cove, but the Forest Service relented and put in some ropes to help people across. It looks sketchy, but I know people are doing it. renegadepilgrim posted detailed photos on PortlandHikers.org. If you think you’re going to do all of Timberline Trail, read this!
  • MontBell, which I guess is the “REI of Japan,” is opening a store downtown in time for the holiday season. I hear the Japanese version is even pricier than ours. Portland Business Journal has the details.
  • And finally, the PCT “herd” is in Oregon. They start at the California/Mexico border and walk some 2,600 miles to Canada. Along the way they stretch out quite a bit, but there’s a big “pack” towards the middle — and they pass through Oregon during August. They are easy to spot: generally young, skinny, bearded, carrying smaller packs than you’d imagine, walking really fast, and utterly, completely filthy. But they are lovely folks, and here’s an idea to bring out their loveliness: If you’re hiking on the PCT this weekend (and you will be on Ramona Falls, McNeil Point, anything at Timberline Lodge, above Lost Lake, Eagle Creek, Wahtum Lake, Timothy Lake or Olallie Lake) bring along some snacks for them. They especially love “salty crunchies” like Fritos or potato chips, stuff they can’t carry in backpacks, and of course candy bars. Really, anything. Just offer them snacks and ask them about life on the trail, and they’ll light up like a Christmas tree. Just don’t ask them about the Cheryl Strayed book; they’ve heard more than enough. Oh, and offer to carry out their garbage for them. They really love that!

Okay, that’s it for this week. Stay tuned here for more Portland hikes news, and subscribe to my “Breakfast Bulletin” newsletter to get them in your inbox, with many other treats.

See you on the trails!

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