With its easy terrain, little elevation gain, beautiful lake views, and an impressive vista of Mt. Hood, the Timothy Lake Loop is a sure winner! If you live in the Portland area, you can do it as a day ride. Or, you can camp at either Joe Graham Horse Camp or Clackamas Lake Campground and ride the loop from there.
Distance: 15 miles round trip
Difficulty: Moderate (the trail is easy, but the distance is a bit long for some riders)
Elevation: 3,200 to 3,400 feet
You can start your ride at either horse camp. From Joe Graham Horse Camp, take the connector trail east to the Pacific Crest Trail, turn right, and in 0.5 mile turn right on the Miller Trail. From Clackamas Lake Campground, go west on the Miller Trail, which in turn will take you to the Timothy Lake Trail. Follow the Timothy Lake Trail north along the west side of the lake, then turn right on the PCT and follow it south beside the lake to the horse camps.
Along the way, veer off the trail at Hoodview Campground for a picture-postcard view of Mt. Hood across the lake. Meditation Point and Little Crater Lake are also worth detouring a short distance off the trail to see.
And if it’s a hot day, bring along a pair of shorts or your swimsuit and take a refreshing dip in the lake.
Both Joe Graham Horse Camp and Clackamas Lake Campground offer corrals, potable water from hand pumps, vault toilets, picnic tables, fire rings, and manure disposal in garbage dumpsters. Joe Graham is a dedicated horse camp, and Clackamas Lake is a horse camp on one end and a family campground on the other. Both camps require reservations (www.recreation.gov), and both charge an overnight camping fee.
Joe Graham and Clackamas Lake are located 20 miles south of Government Camp, on the south side of Mt. Hood. From Government Camp, take Hwy. 26 east for 11.2 miles. Turn right on Skyline Road (Road 42) and continue 8.3 miles to reach Joe Graham Horse Camp on the left. To reach Clackamas Lake Campground, continue 0.7 mile to the Clackamas Lake Historic Ranger Station, veer left to stay on Road 42, and drive 0.5 mile to the campground on the left.
You’ll find more information about the trails at the Timothy Lake Look in Riding Northwest Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, (Ponderosa Press, 2017), available at www.nwhorsetrails.com.