The old route that crossed the Eliot Glacier field was destroyed by a debris flow in November 2006. The event washed away a temporary bridge that was seasonally installed along the trail as well as part of the existing trail.
Hikers of the Pacific Northwest have a great reason to celebrate: the Eliot Glacier crossing on Timberline Trail #600 is scheduled to be repaired. The trail will be rerouted this summer with the goal of completing the project in 2017 depending on weather conditions. The project will be completed by forest staff working with volunteers and contractors.
Forest engineering and recreation specialists have determined that a permanent bridge structure is not feasible at this location so have opted to re-locate this section of trail. The new trail location should make it easier and safer for hikers to complete the roughly 40-mi. (64.4 km) loop around Mt. Hood.
“We're thrilled to begin work on rerouting this trail to the new location so that crossing this area is safer for hikers,” said Claire Pitner, east side recreation manager for the Mt. Hood National Forest. “The 1.5 mile reroute will minimize exposure to loose boulders which otherwise could pose as hazards for hikers.”
The old route that crossed the Eliot Glacier field was destroyed by a debris flow in November 2006. The event washed away a temporary bridge that was seasonally installed along the trail as well as part of the existing trail. Timberline Trail #600 is the only “round the mountain” trail on the Mt. Hood National Forest and is an extremely popular and challenging hiking opportunity. Recreation managers have been working with engineering for the last decade to come up with a sustainable engineering solution and necessary funding to complete the needed repairs. Both goals proved challenging due to the unstable nature of mountain geology and the cost of various options through the years.
The planned crossing will be below the previous crossing location and will be more protected from the scouring action of the stream as the Eliot Branch makes its way down the mountain. There is still a possibility that the route could be impacted by a large scale debris flow, but this is something that is unavoidable in large, geologically active areas.
The trail has been rerouted across the Eliot Branch many times over the decades due to similar debris flow events. This new location for the crossing will hopefully lead to fewer hiking disruptions and new opportunities for hikers to experience the wonder of Mt. Hood.
“We tried to locate the trail so that it would be minimally impacted on an annual basis by changes in glacial flow, but we have to keep in mind that the ground on Mt. Hood is constantly changing,” said Pitner. “We are doing our best to provide a safer crossing that will remain in the same location for many years to come.”
For information, call 541/352-1248 or visit http://www.fs.fed.us/.