In September Curt and I had a Date Day and we tackled the McNeil Point hike. We've attempted it together twice before with the kids, but both trips had way too much whining and not enough fun (adults included). Since this is one of my all time favorite hikes, we attempted it a third time and were successful.
|Self timer at the top of the ridge in Really High Country|
TRAIL ACCESS: This trailhead is remote, but not too rugged. You'll drive the typical narrow Forest Service road that is really one lane with steep drop offs on one side, but is supposedly wide enough for one car going each direction. Thankfully all of it is paved save the last 1.2 miles and the potholes are minimal. The trail is under snow from October through June, so the window to go on this adventure is July through September. Mark your calendar now and just do it!
The Bald Mountain viewpoint is only a mile from the trailhead and it is magnificent. You hike through an old growth forest, go around a corner onto a ridge and BOOM! There's Mt. Hood. She takes your breath away. The ridge the trail traverses is high in the air with a relatively steep drop off. Don't bring dogs off a leash or kids that don't obey or they could roll off the edge to great peril. The ridge looks down into the valley of the Muddy Fork of the Sandy River.
|Curt in the old growth forest before we came out onto the ridge.|
|Curt at the Bald Mountain Viewpoint. McNeil Point is WAY up Mt. Hood on that ridge to the left.|
|The trail is narrow with some significant drop offs. Be careful.|
Along the way, you'll finish traversing the ridge, hike back into old growth forest, ford a creek twice, and pass wildflowers (if you're lucky enough to catch them in bloom). The mountain terrain changes the higher you hike with big boulder fields and mountain meadows with ponds. Backpackers camp here and we saw several breaking camp on our way in.
We stopped at The Ponds for a snack, then continued the final stretch to the McNeil Point. The narrow trail takes hikers across a "windswept ridge and eventually crosses a rockslide/snowfield." This area is a little sketchy. Go slow and be certain of each step you take.
|Curt checking directions before we set out to finish our hike.|
|Getting closer to McNeil Point|
|Some of the Sketch Area. The trail picks its way across these loose rocks that are often covered with snow.|
|That tiny turquoise speck directly in the lower middle of this image is a hiker. The slightly bigger brown speck is the stone shelter.|
|Volcanoes in the distance.|
|The very steep, non-switchback trail up into Really High Country.|
|I hiked all the way up to the point on that middle ridge, then came back.|
|We hiked down to the stone shelter on our way out. It's pretty cool.|
|#forreal #mightycreator #inoregonasitisinheaven|
So there you have it. An overview of the McNeil Point hike. And can I just add one thing? If you're married, date your spouse. The adventures Curt and I go on carry us through the mundane, nose-to-the-grindstone weeks and make us fall more in love. Happy hiking.
|Selfie game is strong.|