“This nearly 12 mile long run around the shore of Timothy Lake has plenty of opportunities to cool off with a swim.”
— Kathleen Walker
Fall Colors · Lake · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers
The loop trail around Timothy Lake is generally closed by snow in late November and can be snowed in past Memorial Day in heavy snow years. The road access to the trail is generally closed in December to mid April for snowmobiling.
This nearly 12 mile loop around Timothy Lake, will take take you on the Timothy Lake Trail #528
, (west side of lake), Pacific Crest Trail (east side of lake), and Southshore Trail #529
(south side of lake). It is a long day run, but relatively easy grade (average 6%). It can also be made into an overnight trip, provided you stay in one of the designated dispersed campsites along the lake, or get a spot at North Arm Campground. There are plenty of spots to stop and picnic and cool off with a swim. Half of this loop trail is open to bikes, and 2/3rds of it are open to horses, so keep an eye out. Foot traffic yields to horses and bikes are supposed to yield to foot traffic and horses.
Need to Know
This very popular trail can be crowded on the south shore side with fewer people the farther out you go along the trail. You must get a self-registering permit to camp at a designated dispersed site. The trail loop can be started at other destinations along the trail, but day use parking in overnight campsites may be restricted. A Northwest Forest Pass or Portland General Electric Day Use Pass is required to park.
Begin this trail by parking at the Pine Point Day Use Area located just east of Timothy Lake Dam. Run along the shoreline trail to the end of the parking area to the trailhead; if you plan to camp, you need to register here. Continue north across the dam on the Timothy Lake Trail #528
towards Meditation Point. In just under a mile, cross a large bridge at Dinger Creek. Here the trail heads inland and there is another bridge before coming to the junction with Meditation Point Trail #526
at mile 1.5. This trail leads out some dispersed sites on a peninsula into the lake.
Continue north on Timothy Lake Trail #528
as it skirts the shoreline with another bridge over a tributary towards North Arm Campground. North Arm Campground is at mile 3.5. Here there is a small boat launch and day use area with some walk-in campsites. The North Arm Campground was reconstructed in 2015, as part of a requirement of Portland General Electric to provide recreation facilities for a power generating site (Timothy Lake Dam and Clackamas River dams). The trail has been relocated to the west, around the campsites. his is a good spot for a break with water and restrooms available.
The trail crosses the campground loop road and then the campground entrance road, before continuing into the forest headed north towards Little Crater Lake and the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail at mile 4.5. Here, you may wish to take a short detour north on the PCT and then east on Little Crater Lake Trail #500
to see a small breathtaking (pond sized) lake. If you want to fill your water bottles with the best artesian water in Mt. Hood National Forest (in my opinion), work your way out towards the entrance to the Little Crater Lake Campground near the gate to the hand pump and fill 'er up.
Otherwise at the PCT junction, turn right (south) onto the Pacific Crest Trail. This trail is closed to bikes but open to horses. Most of this section of trail, stays within sight of the lake. On a hot day, there will be plenty of spots to cool off with a dip in the lake. The run along the east side of the lake is as long as the west side, and you'll head into the forest on the southeast corner of the lake to meet the intersection with the Timothy Lake Trail #528
at mile 8. Turn right (southwest) onto the Timothy Lake Trail #528
and you'll soon cross the Oak Fork of the Clackamas River on a large bridge. Just over the bridge, is the junction with the Southshore Trail #529
that passes through all five campground/day use areas on the south shore of the lake. If you want to avoid the chaos in the campgrounds, you can stay on Timothy Lake Trail #528
. If you want to stay along the lakeshore, turn right (west) on the Shoreline trail #529.
Following the Southshore Trail #529
you'll soon reach Oak Fork Campground, followed by Gone Creek Campground (mile 9). Just past the Gone Creek Campground, the Southshore Trail #529
meets up with the Timothy Lake Trail #528
again and becomes the Timothy Lake Trail #528
. Stay along the shoreline and keep heading west. The trail will be in younger second growth forest here, crossing a tributary until it leads towards Hoodview Campground. As the trail winds around a lake cove, there is another intersection with the for Timothy Lake Trail #528
and Southshore Trail #529
with the same choice of campgrounds verses inland forest (this time it crosses Forest Road 57 and parallels the road. Again, both options lead back to the trailhead.
Assuming you opt for the shoreline, the trail goes through Hoodview Campground, and then passes through the newly renovated Cove Day Use Area (used to be a walk-in campground area). Follow the trail around the shoreline and through the Pine Point Campground and then the back to the Pine Point Day Use area.
Flora & Fauna
Timothy Trail takes you past lush forests of Douglas fir, western hemlock, some mountain hemlock, lodgepole, western white pine, noble and silver fir. In September and October, the vine and big leaf maple, alder and larch provide great fall color. The trail also has lots of yew trees, that are small diameter trees with orange brown bark, and dark green flat needles. The bark of yew trees produces taxol that slows the growth of centuries old trees to less than 6" in diameter. Taxol which has now been synthesized, is used to fight some cancers because it slows the growth of cancer cells like it slows the growth of the tree. Ground cover has salal, Oregon grape, sword fern, oxalis, huckleberry, bear grass, and rhododendron. You may also see some trillium, bunchberry, lupine, and Indian paintbrush. The Southshore Trail #529
has similar vegetation, except where it goes through campgrounds and developed sites and vegetation is sparse.
History & Background
This area used to be know as Timothy Meadows, before it was dammed for power generation. Campgrounds were required to be constructed to facilitate project inducted recreation. As part of the hydro-power re-licensing, the campgrounds and trails around the lake are scheduled to be upgraded or reconstructed.