Mt. Hood

Running Around Mt. Hood

(From with updates from Sept 2017)


Running around Mt. Hood is one of the most spectacular runs in the Northwest. It is also quite a challenge, over 40 miles with 10,000 feet of elevation gain, many remote sections and few bailout options. The page is intended to provide general information for those planning on taking on this run.

When To Do This Run

Much of this run is above 5000 feet and the high point is at 7300 feet (near Cooper Spur). The other problem you face is crossing the streams. They can get pretty big earlier in the summer. Because of all this, this route opens up pretty late in the year. August is a good bet and some years it is possible to run in late July. The season typically extends through the month of September (depending on the weather).

Current Conditions / Weather

Mountain Forecast elevation 4922' (8203' also available)

NOAA Interactive Snow Depth Information for Mt. Hood

Wunderground Station at Government Camp elevation 3937'

National Weather Service Mt. Hood Meadows Cascade Express elevation 7300'

National Weather Service Mt. Hood Meadows Blue elevation 6540'

National Weather Service Timberline Lodge elevation 5880'

National Weather Service Mt. Hood Meadows Base elevation 5380'

Timberline Lodge and Road webcams Trail goes by the Lodge

Mt. Hood Meadows webcams  Trail goes near the Vista Lower cam.

General Route Information

The map below shows the route for the run. Starting location is usually Timberline Lodge, but it has been done by starting at the trailhead for Ramona Falls (adds 5.8 total miles), or the trailhead for Top Spur (adds 1.0 total miles). There is always much debate for the direction you should do this run in. I've only run it once and I ran it clockwise. I actually think it is safer to run it counter clockwise. This way you get the sometimes tricky White River crossing over early. You also run along the better maintained and marked PCT for the second half. But the climb out of the Sandy to Paradise and then again from the Zig Zag River it's all uphill to Timberline, these climbs might be harder than the climb out of White River up to the Lodge. Almost all hikers are going clockwise, it's easier to go by them in the opposite direction since it's easier to see you. 

Route finding is reasonable but non trivial. In a few areas there are side trails (particularly near Cairn basin) and it's easy to miss the left turn from Ramona Falls onto the Timberline #600 trail and instead go on along the PCT #2000. There are also a number of creek crossings and it can sometimes take a while to find the trail on the opposite side (look for flagging tape). 

Water is generally plentiful. You cross quite a few streams on this run. I'd bring two water bottles but you probably do not need a large CamelBack. Of course you need to bring purification tablets or filter or take your chances.

Maps and Reference Information


This is going to be a long day. Make sure you bring your 10 Essentials along.


You need to bring a map for this run. I would recommend the Green Trails map 462S Mt Hood/Timberline Trail.

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The loop. This oblique image created by my friends at ultrafreaks using Delorme Topo USA


You definitely want to check the weather before heading out on this run. Mike Burke, I still haven't forgiven you for dragging us out in that rain, cold and sideways falling snow in 2000!

I'd suggest checking the link for Government camp or the National Weather Service Northwest forecast.

Just for fun you may want to check out the camera links at Government Camp or Timberline lodge.


It's a good idea to check with the ranger before heading up to find out if there are any trail closures or other info. The Sandy office appears to be the best bet 503 622-7674 They also have a website at

Mileage Splits and Time Estimate

The table below gives split distances for running CCW (recommended) and CW. Typically it takes from 11 to 13 hours to do this run (assuming very experienced runners). For some reason, over the years, I've gotten quite a few e-mails from folks wanting to know the fastest this course has ever been run. This course used to be a race (before it became a national scenic area) and on August 28, 1982 27 year old John Coffey set the all time record for this course by completing it in an incredible 6:24:33!. For more info click on the scanned UltraRunner articles: page 1, page 2 or peruse through the All Time Records list.

Mileage and Splits

Mileage above is from Around Mt Hood in Easy Stages [Needs to be updated for Eliot Glacier changes]

Lowpoint 3200 feet (after Ramona Falls when)

Highpoint 7350 feet (before Cloud Cap) Total Elevation Gain ~10,000

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Elevation profile. Profile for running CCW, created with TOPO!™ ©1998 Wildflower Productions ( TOPO!™ calculates the distance as 38 miles. Click for larger image.

Driving Directions

Everyone starts this run at Timberline lodge. (As an aside, I've thought it would be neat to start this run at Cloud Cap. The advantage of this would be stopping to get food at Timberline when you are part way through the run. Of course the drive is longer to Cloud Cap).

Timberline Lodge is located 6 miles up the hill from Government Camp. Take HWY 26 out to Government camp and then turn on to Timberline HWY. For those of you coming in to from out of state, click here for more detailed directions from the airport.



Last time I ran with Mike and Bob it was so miserable I didn't take pictures. However, Scott McQueeney went out on a beautiful day and has a nice set of pictures.

Lately the ultrafreaks gang ran it and put some of their shots up on the web as well. Take a look at Mt Hood Photos. Notice how full the rivers were for this crossing (and this is labor day 2001).