Timberline Trail Detour
Last September, over Labor Day weekend, the Northwest experienced a historic easterly windstorm that battered Oregon, driving devastating wildfires to surge through forests and communities across the state. At Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood, a peak wind gust of 106 mph was observed. All throughout the forests around the mountain the sustained winds felled trees, breaking them apart or tearing them loose from the earth, to scatter across the trails and roads throughout Mt. Hood National Forest.
In October of 2020 I returned to the trail after the storms to survey the damage. I had been through this area multiple times earlier in the summer on day long loops of the Timberline Trail, and this formerly pleasant section that would take 20-30 minutes took me over 3 hours to navigate. The windstorm shredded the old growth forest, snapping trees in half, ripping many out by the roots, scattering them across the forest like toothpicks. Long sections of the trail here are completely covered in stacks of trees, hundreds of feet of tread have been torn away by root wads spilling down the hillside. There is an incredible number of trees greater than 30 inches blocking the way. The vast extent of the damage is viewable on satellite imagery of the area taken one year apart.
The positive news is that the closure of the trail will not impact the opportunity to encircle the mountain. The detour shortens the length of a loop by nearly 1.5 miles. If going clockwise, after crossing the Sandy River, hikers have the option of following the Pacific Crest Trail all the way to the Top Spur-Timberline-PCT junction west of Bald Mountain, or to head northeast to Ramona Falls and take the Ramona Falls Trail after the bridge northwest to rejoin the PCT north towards Bald Mountain.
Hikers going counterclockwise should, from the Top Spur-Timberline-PCT junction, take the PCT south and after the lower Muddy Fork crossing, stay on it until it rejoins the Timberline, or take the Ramona Falls Trail until it meets the Timberline going south.
The heavy damage and old growth blowdown on the Timberline Trail along the north side of Bald Mountain has been cleared by Trail Crews. I still highly recommend taking the trail on the south side and utilizing the cut off trail, going both clockwise and counter clockwise because the views along the south side are spectacular. There still exists damage along Bald Mountain Ridge but it is navigable.