FATMAP difficulty grade
The Timberline Trail circumnavigates one of the most famous mountains in North America: Mount Hood.
This iconic volcano soars above the surrounding landscape, visible for hundreds of miles around.
If you want to experience this glaciated mountain peak in a truly visceral way, try hiking this 40-mile loop. "On the Timberline, you’ll encounter lush old-growth forests, pristine alpine waterfalls, wildflower-filled meadows, towering craggy glaciers, rough volcanic landscapes, and some of the finest cascade views around," writes [CleverHiker.com](https://www.cleverhiker.com/blog/timberline-trail-loop-backpacking-guide).
The hiking isn't easy, but the stunning PNW landscape is all the reward you need! Backpackers generally take about 4 days and 3 nights to complete the entire loop, with most people beginning and ending the hike at Timberline Lodge.
Backcountry permits are required on the trail from May 15th to October 15th, and other restrictions and regulations apply.
While the popularity of the trail can be an issue, the permits are still free and can usually be acquired quite easily.
Also, note that some Timberline trailheads require a Northwest Forest Pass for parking. The depth of the snowpack is the biggest consideration when planning the time of your hike.
Portions of the trail can hold snow well into July, so if you're attempting to thru-hike early in the season, you may need to pack snowshoes.
CleverHiker notes that "July and August are usually great for wildflowers, but that’s also the time when mosquitoes will be the worst." September into early October is generally the best time of year to hike the Timberline trail, due to beautiful temperatures, fewer bugs, and fewer crowds. Even though the Timberline Trail doesn't reach the summit of the vaulted peak, this route is no walk in the park.
According to FATMAP's measurements, the entire loop as mapped covers 38.6 miles while climbing and descending 10,712 vertical feet.
This climbing comes from the steep-sided ravines and valleys that the trail drops into and subsequently climbs out of as it works its way around the various aspects of the mountain. On a trail of this length, the quality and technical difficulty of the singletrack underfoot will vary considerably from section to section.
Some segments are smooth and non-technical, while others are quite steep and rocky.
Be prepared for anything, especially as trail conditions continue to change due to floods, forest fires, and the normal wear and tear of nature. One of the route's major challenges is fording seven different rivers.
Early in the season, the rushing water from melting snow high above can create deadly conditions.
Even late in the season, many rivers will still require you to wade through them. While the challenges are many, there's no question that the Timberline Trail is one of the finest backpacking routes in the Pacific Northwest! Sources: https://www.cleverhiker.com/blog/timberline-trail-loop-backpacking-guide https://www.oregonhikers.org/field_guide/Timberline_Trail_around_Mount_Hood_Hike