Hike 43
The Mt. Hood National Forest
Elk Cove via Cloud Cap Hike
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Map of the Elk Cove Hike, Cloud Cap

Length: 9.2 miles round trip
Elevation Change: About 2000' cumulative gain
Season: Summer thru late Fall
Difficulty:   Challenging
Permit:   NW Forest Pass Required
GPS:   N45 24.612, W121 36.642
Latitude:   45.4102
Longitude:   -121.6107


 Click for PDF Topo Map of this Hike 

First, be aware that the forest service has rerouted the trail across Eliot Creek. Even though the new trail is excellent, you still have to ford the creek, which is not easy task.

Did I say Challenging? OK... well, that's an understatement. Note that the elevation difference between your starting point and destination is only a couple hundred feet. And the mileage is only 9.2 round trip. Well, stick those numbers in the ol Hike Difficulty Calculator and see what you get....moderate??? Hummmm, then where do I get the 2000' feet of elevation gain?? Did I use the word CUMULATIVE? Oh yes, did I mention that this trail climbs and descends, and climbs and descends, and cli..... oh, you get the point.

To make matters more interesting, mother Nature has managed to make crossing some of the streams nearly impossible, so our fine Forest Service has created a detour to help us survive this adventure. This adds even more up and down to the afore mentioned 2000 feet of elevation gain, so I'd say one really needs to refer to this hike as Challenging.

I know, enough already, let's talk the hike. OK, so let's say you begin the hike at the Cloud Cap camp area. At the writing of this narrative, the trail is closed across Eliot Creek, so one must use the Detour UPHILL and cross the creek where it is reasonably safe and where the Forest Service has installed a bridge. Follow the signs and pink ribbons to this safety feature and back to the original trail to Elk Cove.

Don't be discouraged. This hike is as much fun to make fun of as it is to hike. I hike this particular hike almost every year and I never get tired of the outstanding scenery, and I actually enjoy the adventure of wondering just how I'm going to get across the creeks "this year".

The trail descends gently for several miles through a variety of environments. Sometimes you are in dense high mountain forests, and other times you are out in the open with some of the best views in town. On a clear day you can see almost forever. And in season, the flowers don't get much better anywhere than on this hike to Elk Cove.

About a half mile from your destination, you must cross Coe Creek. Sometimes this is a difficult challenge. Whatever you do, DO NOT ATTEMPT SOMETHING BEYOND YOU ABILITY LEVEL. It just isn't worth falling in the creek or injuring yourself. However, I've always been able to find the right combination of rocks and logs to get across this fast moving stream.

When you get to Elk Cove, you will consider the effort well worth it. When you get back to your vehicle at the parking lot at Cloud Cap, you may have different thoughts. Hopefully not. Hopefully, this hike will be a wonderful adventure filled with all the good stuff an adventure should have, including a happy ending... and a fun story to share with your family and friends.

Mt. Hood from the Eliot Glacier moraine crossing
How to get there:

 Click for PDF Directions Map of this Hike 

Follow Oregon Hwy 35 south of Hood River or north from Hwy 26 near Government Camp until you come to Road 3510 indicating the Cooper Spur Ski area and Resort. Follow Road 3510 for a couple of miles and at the resort you will see Road 3512 to Cloud Cap clearly marked. Follow this road for about 10 miles to the junction to Tilly Jane campground. Bear right at this point and arrive at the trailhead about a mile later.

Note: This is the same trailhead for the Cooper Spur hike and the Elk Cove hike.

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