The Best Route To Day Hike To The Timberline Hotel

Why hike when you can just drive? Just kidding, and not going to answer that. You have many options of trails to take to the Timberline but one stands out from the rest.

mount hood timberline hotel trail PCT barlow pass wildflowers

What is the Timberline Hotel?

The Timberline Hotel is a massive lodge that sits at 5,960 feet of elevation on the side of Mount Hood.


The lodge serves as a resort, hotel, and cafeteria for the ski slopes on Mount Hood which has the longest ski season in the US (all 12 months due to the glaciers on Mount Hood).


The hotel was constructed in 1936 to 1938 during the Great Depression as a public works New Deal project.



The hotel is a National Historic Landmark and is most famous for it's role as the exterior of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining.

mount hood timberline hotel trail PCT barlow pass

About The Hike

This route starts from Barlow Pass and uses the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) to reach the hotel. At treeline, or timberline one may say, the PCT and the Timberline Trail merge together for the final stretch to take you to the hotel.

mount hood timberline hotel trail PCT barlow pass

I love this route because it combines two iconic trails into one to get you to the Timberline Hotel and provide astounding views of Mount Hood.


If you are unfamiliar with the Timberline Trail, it's a 42-mile long trail that circulates Mount Hood along or near the timberline (treeline). It takes 2-4 days to hike and is a classic backpacking route in Oregon.



mount hood timberline hotel trail PCT barlow pass sign

The section from Barlow Pass to the Timberline Trail on the PCT is through the woods of Mount Hood National Forest with beautiful pathways and moss covered trees. The elevation gain for this section is in the ballpark of 1500 feet over a course of 4 miles.

mount hood timberline hotel trail PCT barlow pass

You'll feel the elevation but the PCT is a graded trail meant for livestock so it's a gentle climb.


Once you reach the Timberline Trail intersection, you will continue straight and the trail will turn sandy for the next mile or so until the hotel.



mount hood timberline hotel trail PCT barlow pass

This section is a favorite among hikers on the PCT with views of Mount Hood tucked behind sets of wildflowers, flowering bushes, and trees. There are also some insane glacier stream canyons and a couple that you will even cross.


The trail is an out & back so once you reach the Timberline Hotel, you can explore the property, get something to eat, and even jump onto another hike starting from here before descending back the way you came.

mount hood timberline hotel trail PCT barlow pass

AllTrails doesn't have this exact route mapped out but the starting point is the beginning of the PCT OR Section G Map. Figures below are rough estimates.


Barlow Pass to Timberline Hotel via Pacific Crest Trail:

Distance: 10.0 Miles

Type: Out & Back

Ascent: 2000 feet


AllTrails Link - PCT OR Section G



I've also started to use Gaia GPS which I like for more backcountry style hiking and camping and is now what I'm using to create routes. The figures below are more accurate and the route can be found here and on GaiaGPS.com.


Barlow Pass to Timberline Hotel via Pacific Crest Trail:

Distance: 10.7 Miles

Type: Out & Back

Elevation: 6027 feet

Ascent: 2355 feet


Getting There and Important Information

The trailhead is located at Barlow Pass just off of Route 35 (Mount Hood Highway). There should be plenty of parking at this lot but if not, street parking is available.


The parking area has a picnic area, garbage cans, and portapotty facilities. The Timberline Hotel has full amenities and facilities that all visitors are free to use.

mount hood timberline hotel trail PCT barlow pass

I highly recommend going into the Timberline Hotel and exploring the history and decorative works, you can read more about the hotel here.


The hotel has a cafeteria, bar, restaurant, and vending machines. It is a ski lodge so be prepared to pay inflated prices. A 20oz soda from the vending machine was going to run me $4 which at that point said to myself 'there's beer and soda in the car' and not so happily walked away.



Mount Hood is a national forest and dispersed camping is allowed. I saw a couple flat tent sites on the way up the trail before treeline.


You pass a couple good water sources on the way up to the lodge including a glacier stream that runs ice cold during the summer. I'd recommend bringing a Sawyer Squeeze to enjoy this beautiful drinking source.


Also don't forget the rest of your Day Hiking Essentials! This is a trail where some of these items may come in handy!


The Mount Hood area has a day use fee which can be obtained online at recreation.gov.

mount hood timberline hotel trail PCT barlow pass


mount hood timberline hotel trail PCT barlow pass

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Happy Trails!

 

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