Cloud Cap Trailhead
From Portland Hikers Field Guide
- Latitude: 45.4024
- Longitude: -121.6546
- Maps: Portland Hikers Maps Google Earth
- Elevation: 5850 feet
- Driving time from Portland: 2 hours
Hikes starting here
- Elk Cove from Cloud Cap Hike (TH | <-- --> | LOG)
- Cooper Spur Hike (TH | <-- --> | LOG)
- Eliot Moraine Hike (TH | <-- --> | LOG)
- Gnarl Ridge from Cloud Cap Hike (TH | <-- --> | LOG)
- Tilly Jane Hike (TH | <-- --> | LOG)
- Timberline Trail around Mount Hood Hike (TH | <-- --> | LOG)
The Cloud Cap Trailhead is located near the historic Cloud Cap Inn, a rustic lodge build in the 1890s. Though the lodge is not open to the public, the grounds are scenic and worth visiting as part of your trip to the area. The Cloud Cap Saddle campground has picnic tables and tent sites and an excellent, ice-cold water supply. There is also a restroom.
In 2008, the Gnarl Fire swept through the Cloud Cap area, miraculously sparing the old lodge, but burning much of the forest along the Cloud Cap Road. When the road was reopened in late 2009, several water bars has been constructed to prevent runoff from the burned areas from washing out the road. Water bars are large dips in the road, and can make for a rough ride in a passenger vehicle. Keep your speed under 20 mph, and you will be able to spot the water bars in time to slow down -- and several are large enough that you will want to slow down to about 5 mph.
This trailhead can be reached by following Highway 35 south of Hood River to signs pointing to the Cooper Spur Ski Resort, then following the bumpy 9-mile Cloud Cap Road from the Cooper Spur ski area. Beyond the seasonal gate at Inspiration Point (approximately 3 miles from the paved road) there are several water bars that warrant slowing down, and crossing with care to protect your vehicle. There are a total of 18 water bars between Inspiration Point and the Tilly Jane junction, and another three just beyond Tilly Jane, as you complete the final switchback toward Cloud Cap.
As you round a final bend (and finally leave the water bars behind) on the Cloud Cap Road, a spectacular view of the fearsome north face of Mount Hood suddenly appears. The trailhead is just a few hundred yards beyond, at the Cloud Cap Saddle campground. The road continues another 0.2 miles to historic Cloud Cap Inn.