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The Timberline Trail
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Maia Jordan
(maia) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
The Timberline Trail on 06/24/2014 17:02:53 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

The Timberline Trail

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
The Timberline Trail on 06/24/2014 17:38:51 MDT Print View

Do note that per the US Forest Service, the Timberline Trail is still officially closed between Elk Cove and Cloud Cap. To the best of my knowledge, though, they are no longer threatening big fines for going there. There are a number of routes to cross Eliot Creek, ranging from fixed ropes of questionable quality near the original trail crossing (slopes still extremely unstable) to getting up onto the Eliot Glacier with its crevasses. All are risky, but lots of folk have done them. I'm glad I hiked that section in 2005, before the big floods!

Trip reports and the Field Guide on will give you more detail.

Edited by hikinggranny on 06/24/2014 19:35:11 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: The Timberline Trail on 06/24/2014 19:33:44 MDT Print View

Nice! Thanks for the article. Nice pictures.

I've done the Eliot crossing a number of times, both before and after the Eliot washout. Definitely challenging now.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: The Timberline Trail on 06/25/2014 08:57:42 MDT Print View


I keep stumbling over your trip reports from This is the second one this week alone and it’s only Wednesday!

Is the Eliot crossing dangerous enough where I shouldn't hike this with children? If the zone is officially closed, is there an alternate route that'll allow for a hiker to circumnavigate the mountain?

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: The Timberline Trail on 06/25/2014 09:19:22 MDT Print View

If you look at and click on "field guide" it describes the Eliot crossing pretty good.

I've done both "the ropes" down below and the glacier above. There's a circuitous route that avoids walking on the glacier for the most part. I think next time I'll do "the ropes".

And then there should be some trip reports soon.

If you're doing it, you can talk to people as you approach and see what they did.

You're not supposed to walk on glaciers because of possible hidden crevases. And the rubble left behind is very soft, sort of like quicksand.

One of "the ropes" was supposedly taken out by another landslide, but maybe a new rope was put into place. You don't have to use the ropes. Maybe just as a handhold but don't depend on it for your life since they've been there for unknown periods of time.

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: Re: The Timberline Trail on 06/28/2014 04:42:45 MDT Print View

I did the trail counter-clockwise from Timberline lodge with my wife last September. Strangely, we met very few people going this direction around the mountain. I have no idea why that was because it's a fantastic way to do it. You avoid the crowds, you cross Eliot Creek (the only real obstacle) earlier on in the hike, and you end with Paradise Park. Additionally, the views of the Washington volcanos are spectacular heading north on the east side of the mountain. The east side of the mountain was easily my favorite stretch of the whole trail.

We took the "ropes" route across Eliot Creek and I didn't think it was all that bad. I was expecting something much worse. Definitely do the crossing as early in the morning as you can though. We crossed at about noon (which wasn't ideal), and the flow rate significantly increased during the hour and half it took us to cross the entire valley, down and back up.

@Ian B,
There is no way around crossing Eliot Creek if you want to circumnavigate the mountain. You are either crossing at the glacier or fording the creek a bit below that. There is no better crossing downstream and no bridges to speak of that can be easily accessed by a Timberline Trail hiker. It's a bummer, but that's the situation.

As for taking kids across Eliot Creek. I think it depends on the kids and depends on the flow rate at that time. The water is truly ice cold and can be anywhere from shin deep to above your waist, depending entirely on the flow rate and where exactly you choose to cross. The cold water will be a factor, for both kids and adults, but more so for kids and their higher surface area to volume ratio, so don't overlook that. It's certainly not a trivial crossing, so I'd just be careful if there were kids involved. You can always turn back if it's too much.

With that said, the crossing basically changes every year, so it's impossible to say anything definitive about how it will be in the future.

Edited by dmusashe on 06/29/2014 04:46:30 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The Timberline Trail on 06/28/2014 08:51:59 MDT Print View

You could walk down Tilly Jane Trail to the ski area, 10 mile road walk to Laurence Lake and up Elk Cove Trail. Eliot crossing isn't really that bad though.