|Mt. Hood looms over Timothy Lake|
Now that most of the mountain snow is (finally!) gone, let's point our trail shoes this month toward Timothy Lake, south of Mt. Hood. This loop trail is one of the easiest (i.e. flat) trails of suitable distance to be found in the Cascades. It's perfect for a recovery run after a hard road or track session, or if you want to log some fast trail miles over easy terrain. And at a little over 3,000 feet elevation, normal precipitation years allow access from May until November. Trail length varies from maps (about 12 miles) to Forest Service signs (13 miles), but you'll end up with around 14 miles from our recommended starting point at Little Crater Lake campground.
From the parking area on the west side of the campground, the trail passes through a pretty meadow and by Little Crater Lake, a crystal clear, spring-fed pool. At the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail, turn left (south), then turn right a short distance later at the intersection with the Timothy Lake trail; from here you'll proceed in a counter-clockwise direction around the lake. After about four miles of quiet forest cruising you'll reach the first of several boat ramps and campgrounds, which are quite busy on summer weekends. The trail winds its way through "civilization" along the south side of the lake until you again reach the PCT, where you'll turn left (north) to complete the loop. Here the solitude of the forest closes in as the trail descends gradually through this last section. Another great run in the books!
From Portland/Gresham: Take U.S. 26 east, approximately 12 miles past Government Camp. Turn right (south) on FS 42, Skyline Road, and drive about four miles to the turnoff for Little Crater Lake. Turn right and travel two miles to the campground; the campground loop roadis one-way. You'll park in the parking area about halfway around the loop. (1.5 hours drive time from Portland)
(First published in Footnotes, August 2011)