“A great combination of fun singletrack and flowing trails.
— Tige Phillips
Timothy Lake is an out of the way place frequented by campers, hikers, and fisherman. The loop combines mostly singletrack riding with a few short, dirt/gravel road sections and wider trails on the northern side of the lake. This wide track allows easy navigation of hikers in the area and makes for a fast flowing ride when wide open. Additionally, you'll find some short, challenging climbs and some longer sustained climbing.
Riders must walk their bikes for a short section while on the Pacific Crest Trail. It's very well marked.
Need to Know
Please walk your bike on the well-marked Pacific Crest Trail. It's only a few hundred feet long and you can take a dip in the clearest stream around at the same time. Weather can be unpredictable if there is a change going on. If you think there is even the slightest chance of rain or other weather, be prepared and take what you need.
The ride is really broken up into three sections. Depending on how you ride it, these come in a different order. We like to ride as the map shows starting at a horse camp area and going clockwise, but a more common way is to start and stop at the dam at the southern end of the loop. You'll find the best views of Mt. Hood from the southern side of the lake.
Near the lake is mostly wide single and doubletrack smooth trail. There you'll find bathrooms near in the campgrounds in at least three spread out locations. Hikers are plentiful and so is the smell of frying bacon in the morning (yum!). The northern side of the lake is really fun to relax and enjoy those you are with, or rip through the mostly level areas. The trail slopes down from the northeast slightly here. There are a few places to ride out to the lake and eat lunch/snack (one reason we make this our halfway point). There are signs for Meditation Point
on the northern side of the lake and it's our recommended lunch spot. Be sure to look out over the backside of the dam when you cross it. They aerate the water to improve fish habitat in the Clackamas River and it's an interesting sight.
Moving to the northeast section you'll need to go a short way on the Pacific Crest Trail. Be sure to walk your bikes! No need to get people mad at you. You'll also want to take a close look at the marshy area you are surrounded by and the clear waters feeding the lake. You'll need to do some climbing in the area, and it's mostly if not all singletrack. This section takes you up into the hills above the lake, but don't expect views here. This is the toughest section of the ride by far. Horses are all around the lake, so don't go too fast coming down.
The southeastern section below the horse camp is relatively flat with some small technical climbs, smaller sustained climbing, and great flowing singletrack. You'll find wonderful meadows and forest with the occasional deer. As you approach the campgrounds you can find another bathroom including the ones by the lake and the horse camp at the northern end. There are a few variants that take you next to the lake, but these are restricted to hiking-only.
A leisurely trip around the lake with lunch usually takes us about 4 hours. I'm sure it could be done in half that. In the summer there can be many hikers around the lake (weekdays are better, but not much). Early morning seems to be the best time as most campers are just waking up and you can have conversations with the early morning fisherman on the lake. I'm not sure of the official policy on dogs, but there seems to be a lot of off-leash/on-leash dogs on the trail.
History & Background
Earthen dam built in 1956 to regulate water into lower lakes and eventually the Clackamas River. No power generation.