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Timberline Trail to be reconnected by 2017

Lower-elevation crossing near Eliot Glacier to reduce hiking disruptions

Nearly 10 years after its original route over the Eliot Glacier was destroyed, the Timberline Trail Loop, which circles Mount Hood, will be rerouted this summer.

In November 2006, a debris flow washed away a seasonally installed bridge and part of the existing Timberline Trail No. 600 above the Eliot Glacier field on the northeastern slopes of Mount Hood. As the only trail that stretches clear around the mountain, and officials with the Mt. Hood National Forest noted, it is extremely popular among hikers.CONTRIBUTED GRAPHIC - A map shows the old Timberline Trail Loop routes washed away by the Eliot Branch and the proposed reroute to be completed in 2017.

“We’re thrilled to begin work on rerouting this trail to the new location so that crossing this area is safer for hikers,” said Claire Pitner, eastside recreation manager for the Mt. Hood National Forest.

Forest staff, volunteers and contractors will begin work this summer on a reroute planned to be completed by 2017 that is intended to make the trail safer for hikers.

“Recreation managers have been working with engineering (specialists) for the last decade to come up with a sustainable engineering solution and necessary funding to complete the needed repairs,” read a news release from Mt. Hood National Forest officials on Thursday, Jan. 21. “Both goals proved challenging due to the unstable nature of mountain geology and the cost of various options through the years.”CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Decades after a temporary crossing was washed out, Mt. Hood National Forest personel plan to restore Timberline Trail at a lower elevation location.

During the decade of working toward a sustainable engineering solution, forest engineers and recreation specialists determined a permanent bridge structure was not feasible at the old location of the trail.

Instead, a crossing will be constructed below the previous location and if effective will be more protected from the scouring action of the stream as Eliot Branch makes its way down the mountain.

“The 1.5-mile reroute will minimize exposure to loose boulders which otherwise could pose as hazards for hikers,” Pitner said.

Pitner and other Mt. Hood National Forest staff members hope the new location will cut down on hiking disruptions and result in new opportunities for hikers to experience the mountain.

“We tried to locate the trail so that it would be minimally impacted on an annual basis by changes in glacial flow, but we have to keep in mind that the ground on Mount Hood is constantly changing,” she added. “We are doing our best to provide a safer crossing that will remain in the same location for many years to come.”