The Timberline Trail: Circumnavigating America’s Most Picturesque Peak

Drive through Portland at sunset and you start to wonder if the city’s notoriously bad traffic can’t be at least partially blamed on Mt. Hood’s picture-worthy silhouette. Sometimes it’s just so darn pretty it’s impossible to stop your eyes from drifting eastward. But be warned: stare too long and it starts to issue forth a kind of gravitational pull, dragging even the most reluctant person into its orbit.

Fortunately, there are enough recreational opportunities on the mountain to satisfy just about any outdoor passion: hiking, boating, backpacking, rafting, climbing, year-round skiing, horseback riding, fishing, and (according to me, and Stanley Kubrick) the most iconic mountain lodge in the world: Timberline Lodge.

Views of Mt. Hood are a ever-constant and always-changing along the Timberline Trail. Laura Lancaster

The lodge that became the face of The Shining shares its name with a destination that belongs on the bucket list of every backpacker: The Timberline Trail. Circumnavigating Mt. Hood over 40 miles, many of which come fully-loaded with up-close-and-personal views of the craggy faces and glaciers that make up the summit, is one of the very best ways to experience the mountain.

It’s also the perfect training ground for a longer hike. Every year, hikers descend on the mountain as a trial run for a larger challenge, whether it be the 93-mile Wonderland Trail circumnavigating Mt. Rainier or the 2,600-mile Pacific Crest Trail. And even if the trail doesn’t send you into a wanderlust for something harder and longer, the unique challenges of the Timberline Trail ensure you’ll have plenty of bragging rights to enjoy over your post-hike beer.

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