Timberline to Rhododendron
ElevationAscent: 202' 62 m
Descent: -4,387' -1,337 m
High: 5,940' 1,811 m
Low: 1,756' 535 m
GradeAvg Grade: 6% (3°)
Max Grade: 26% (14°)
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“This is a shuttle-assisted 16 mi ride from iconic Timberline Lodge mostly downhill to Rhododendron.”— Kathleen Walker
Electric Mountain Bikes Not Allowed
The shuttle can accommodate bikes and will take you to Timberline Lodge. Once at Timberline, ride past the pool and get on the Mountaineer/Timberline to Town Trail. This 5.5-mile trail is a flowy downhill trail that drops you at the intersection of the Crosstown Trail #755 near the town of Government Camp where riders can take a break and get some food and drink.
Head west (right at the intersection) on Crosstown towards the Glacier View Sno-park near Enid Lake. This trail is wider and more open till it passes Maggie's Trail. At the Glacier View Sno-park, past Enid Lake, the trail connects with Pioneer Bridle Trail #795 and continues down to the outskirts of Rhododendron.
The first half of the trail is an easier to intermediate trail, while the upper part of the Pioneer Bridle Trail #795 is intermediate. The lower part of Pioneer Bridle Trail #795 is closer to an easier difficulty.
Need to Know
For those wanting a longer round trip ride, (an additional 20 miles of mostly gravel with some paved roads), they can start in Rhododendron on Still Creek Road (gravel Forest Road 2612) and head east connecting on some local roads towards Still Creek Campground. Catch Barlow Trail #601A and cross Hwy 26. Turn north up paved Westleg Road to Timberline Lodge. See the complete description in Still Creek to Timberline Lodge.
About 1.3 miles in, you cross back to the east side of the old Glade Ski Trail. As you go lower, there are some tighter corkscrew turns and vestiges of the old Blossom Ski Trail as well as the corridor that had a ski lift mounted city bus used as a gondola between Government Camp and Timberline from the 1950's to 1962. The trail should be distinguishable from these other routes. If you were worried about your brakes, there are occasional grade reversals to give them a break.
Just as you cross the old Glade Trail opening, you reach the intersection with Crosstown Trail #755. At this point, you need to slow down as there is hiker/biker congestion and less visibility of Crosstown riders coming from the east here. Take a right (head west) on Crosstown Trail #755. If you want to stop for refreshments in Government Camp, you can take a left (southeast) at Maggie's Trail #753 to Thunderhead Lodge near the middle of town, or take a right (southwest) off of Maggie's Trail #753 onto Lucy's Trail that puts you down at the Mt. Hood Brew Pub. If you want to keep jammin', continue on Crosstown Trail #755 west to its terminus and pick up Pioneer Bridle Trail #795 at the Glacier View Sno-Park.
Crosstown Trail is rocky and sandy after the Timberline to Town Trail, but the trail tread and trail clearing corridor narrows after the Maggie's Trail #753 intersection as this section is not designed for a nordic ski trail groomer. Follow Crosstown Trail #755 west towards the Glacier View Sno-park and pick up the Pioneer Bridle Trail #795 which leads to the village of Rhododendron.
The Pioneer Bridle Trail #795 section of this ride is the more intermediate part of the ride as it descends Laurel Hill - the most difficult part of the Oregon Trail traveled by pioneers in wagons. Despite the overall drop in elevation, there are some short climbs in the first half of the trail. You are also traveling through sections of the old Mt. Hood Highway before Hwy. 26, especially where you pass through a tunnel. Once you cross Hwy 26, the trail difficulty becomes easier, with a fairly flat, wide trail the rest of the way towards Rhododendron. If you want to avoid this section, you can park along Highway 26 on the north side of the trail crossing.
The trail officially ends at the Tollgate Rest Area where a replica of the Tollgate for the pioneer wagons had to pay for access to the Barlow Road. Bikers can continue down Highway 26 1/2 mile to the town of Rhododendron and cool off at the Dairy Queen or another local dining establishment.
History & Background
Check out the Mt. Hood Museum and Culture Center in Government Camp for historic displays on Mt. Hood and the Forest Service. The Pioneer Bridle part of the trail follows the path of the Barlow Road, a shortcut for pioneers heading to the Willamette Valley wishing to avoid putting their wagons on rafts down the Columbia River. However, this required they travel over Laurel Hill, noted in many of their diaries, as the most challenging part of the entire trip from Missouri. The pioneers had to lower their wagons with ropes around trees down steep parts of the trail. Check out more information on interpretive signs at the Tollgate Trailhead - the west end of the ride.
Land Manager: USFS - Mt. Hood National Forest - Zigzag Ranger Distict