It was my 21st trek in the last 19 years to the McNeil Point area in the Mt. Hood Wilderness. It should not come as a shock that it’s one of my all time favorite summer and early fall hikes. Granted, there are other trails I’ve visited more often, but they tend to be conditioning hikes. Dog Mountain in the Columbia River Gorge is a good example. I have reached its summit over 25 times.
Beginning at the 4,000-foot Top Spur Trailhead, I quickly reached the Timberline Trail in one-half mile and entered the Mt. Hood Wilderness soon after. In another one-half mile the open slopes of Bald Mountain was reached with many wildflowers and a nice view of Mt. Hood’s summit. After hiking to the east side of Bald Mountain, I began the 2 1/2 mile climb up a ridgecrest.
There were several spots on the ridgecrest that provided jaw-dropping views of the summit of Mt. Hood, the Muddy Fork Valley and Yocum Ridge. After reaching several tarns below 6,000-foot McNeil Point, I took a break and enjoyed the reflection of Mt. Hood in the water. This has always been one of our favorite picnic spots in the summer, possibly the best in the Portland area.
I then hiked to a high point above Cairn Basin, turning uphill for a mile on an old climbers’ trail. This led me to a rock shelter on McNeil Point. The wildflowers in the meadows at this elevation were splendid, as were the views of Mt. Hood. Absorbing the vistas and taking photos kept me occupied until I reluctantly began the return trip to the Trailhead. All in all the hike was 9.5 miles in length with 2,400 feet of elevation gain. A 10!