Top Spur/Bald Mountain Loop
ElevationAscent: 517' 158 m
Descent: -516' -157 m
High: 4,397' 1,340 m
Low: 3,941' 1,201 m
GradeAvg Grade: 8% (5°)
Max Grade: 25% (14°)
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“Combine Top Spur, PCT and Timberline Trail to circle Bald Mountain with a great view of Mt. Hood and Muddy Fork valley.”— Kathleen Walker
Begin Top Spur Trail #785 at the trailhead (wide spot in the road). Stop at the wilderness permit box and complete a wilderness permit (tear off the upper copy and put it in the box, and tie the bottom part to someones pack - one permit per group). Follow the trail a few hundred feet to the north before it makes a large switchback and heads southeast towards the trail junctions with the PCT and Timberline Trail. The trail is rocky and has lots of eroded roots as it basically climbs the fall line in sections. You cross a small creek. After 0.5 mile, you come to the end of the trail and the intersection with the Pacific Crest Trail. Turn right on the PCT which takes you to another intersection 180 feet down the trail.
This second intersection is also known as "malfunction junction", especially if you are looking at old maps or guidebooks printed before the PCT was relocated. At this intersection (standing on the PCT facing south), the trail on your far right is the continuation of the PCT headed towards Ramona Falls. This trail used to be called Bald Mountain, but in fact takes you down Bald Mountain. The trail on your far left is the Timberline Trail #600 headed east towards McNeil Point and Cairn Basin. The trail in the middle is Timberline Trail #600 headed southeast towards the Muddy Fork drainage and Bald Mountain viewpoint. Take this middle trail.
At 0.8 miles from the trailhead, you break out into talus slope on the south side of Bald Mountain with a great view of Mt. Hood and looking down into the Muddy Fork of the Sandy River. There are waterfalls visible where the Muddy Fork cascades down the steep slopes. There are also signs of landslides where the water pooled up behind an ice dam and then broke through, causing a "muddy" flow in the "sandy" soil - hence the name Muddy Fork of the Sandy River. There are large boulders here along the trail, but mind the steep drop offs and loose soil and keep dogs leashed.
Continue down through the opening for 0.3 miles and into the forest. At mile 1.3, you'll see a trail on your left (possibly marked), pointing to a short cutoff trail (Timberline Connector) that takes you back the Timberline Trail section on the north side of Bald Mountain. Take a left on this 300 foot long cutoff trail. Do not continue straight on the Muddy Fork section of the Timberline Trail as it will take you down into the valley and back up the other side.
At the end of the cutoff trail, take a left on the Timberline Trail (taking a right leads you towards McNeil Point). Stay on this trail back to the malfunction junction and take the first right onto the Pacific Crest Trail. After 180 feet, turn left on the Top Spur Trail #785 to return to the trailhead.
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