We made time to do one more high altitude hike on Mount Hood before departing for a six week camping trip that will swing through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah. Compared to last week’s Mazama trail, the Elk Cove trail is slightly less challenging but longer trek It departs from the Vista Ridge Trailhead which is a solid 90 minute drive from our house in Sandy. Like the Mazama trail, it climbs steadily from the small parking area, but not as steeply and with many fewer switchbacks.
I left the house in shorts, but quickly changed into long pants and added a down jacket. We stopped many times along the way to add or subtract layers as the wind and cloud cover changed constantly. Fall colors spiced up the landscape and we made a note to return in July when the flowers should be spectacular. A handful of designated camping spots appear along the trail, ideal for a several day backpacking trip.
The Coe Glacier sported blue undertones far in the distance. One of the best parts of this hike was the significant change in terrain and surroundings— from the eerie but graphic Dollar Lake Burn to boulder-filled scree slopes to lush alpine meadows threaded with tiny streams.
At this point, we’ve hiked almost all the way around Mount Hood on sections of the Timberline Trail except for the northeast section near Cloud Cap. We’ll have to leave that for next summer.