Trip Report NFR Timberline Trail

A buddy and I left last Wednesday to backpack the ~42 mile Timberline Trail around Mt. Hood. We intended to do it in 3 nights/4days. Unfortunately, that pace was beyond us. We made it about 2/3 of the way around the mountain in 3 long days of hiking, only to realize we had ~16 miles left with only an evening and a day left. We made the decision to bail out at Cloud Cap campground and hitch a ride back to the Timberline Lodge.

It was a great experience, with beautiful, incredible landscapes changing drastically throughout each day of hiking. The miles were more difficult than anticipated: lots of sand, dust, and loose surface, lots of exposure, lots of blowdowns and reroutes, and some hot days.

I also learned more about myself and my process and needs while backpacking. This is my first real year of backpacking and I'm still figuring things out. Some things I learned:
  • I have a hard time eating after really hard days of hiking, my stomach didn't want to accept much food
  • I had some core muscle cramping that sapped my energy on day 3
  • Mentally I was locked in and felt good and pushed my body as hard as I felt safe
  • When climbing in direct sun I have a hard time staying hydrated
  • I increased efficiency in setting up and breaking down camp each day
Anyways, to the pictures
Day 1: Timberline Lodge to Ramona Falls
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Day 2: Ramona Falls to Elk Cove
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Day 3: Elk Cove to Cloud Cap

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Have camera, will travel...
Great photos! I did that hike several years ago, it's much harder than it looks on the map!

I have found the same thing about eating on the trail, you're not that hungry.

What does your pack weigh?

Did you encounter any PCT thru hikers?

Gary Knowels

Active Member
Great photos! I did that hike several years ago, it's much harder than it looks on the map!

I have found the same thing about eating on the trail, you're not that hungry.

What does your pack weigh?

Did you encounter any PCT thru hikers?
My pack was in the low 30s with food, but without water. Heavier than I would like, but my sleep apnea requires an ~5 lb CPAP setup.

We did meet 1 guy that started at the border this year and a few others that were doing long stretches, but not the entire thing in one go.


Bryan Corey
My buddies and I tried this hike years ago and had the same sort of experience. 3 night / 4 day hope, made it through 2 nights and I got sick, hiked off and caught a ride back to Timberline. What a beautiful hike though. Perhaps someday I will conquer it, but who knows.


Have camera, will travel...
With that pack weight I think you both did great on the Mt Hood Timberline trail!

When I first got back into backpacking years ago after a long hiatus (without enough gym time in between) my pack was in the mid 30s and it was hard to handle.

I converted to the Ray Jardine ultra lite system and got the pack base weight down to 10lbs. Including food & water it’s about 15lbs; way easier on your body and much easier to rack up the miles.

Thru the lightening process I found if you can get below around 20 lbs you don’t need waist belt/suspension and at that point you can go from a regular 5/6lb pack to a 1lb UL pack (basically a stuff sack with shoulder straps).

Pack weights and trail mileages aside, there is just something really special about the scenery and the experience on the trail. Any way you choose to get out there is pretty much the right way!

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