Camp at Elk Meadows
Oregon › Hood River Meadows Trailhead
Added by Jenn Z
There are lots of opportunities to make this a longer trip but the one here is great. With outstanding views of Mount Hood along the trail and from the meadow.
This is a great trip for those who are new to backpacking. The hike to the quiet, peaceful Elk Meadows is relatively short, but the Newton Creek crossing presents enough difficulty to make this a fun and challenging adventure.
Start at the Hood River Meadows Trailhead parking lot. Though there are several junctions along the trail, the route to Elk Meadows is clearly marked. You’ll begin on the Sahalie Falls Trail 667c, which connects to Elk Meadows Trail 645. For the first mile, the trail is flat and travels through diverse vegetation of cedar, pine, and fir. Before crossing the bridge over Clark Creek at about 0.25 mile, fill out your wilderness permit, and then enter the Mount Hood Wilderness Area.
You will cross two smaller creeks and soon will hear the roaring Newton Creek in the distance. Unlike Clark Creek, there is no bridge over Newton Creek, though sometimes hikers or trail workers pile logs together as makeshift bridges. Scout along the creek bed for the best route to cross. It’s recommended to plan your hike so that you are crossing Newton Creek earlier in the day (before noon), as the later it gets, the more likely it is that these makeshift bridges will be washed out or underwater.
After crossing Newton Creek, the resumption of the trial is marked with cairns. You’ll begin a steady climb up a series of switchbacks with several small brooks crossing the trail. At the top, the trail flattens and intersects with the Gnarl Ridge Trail–Elk Mountain Trail. Continue straight, and give your legs a rest after all those switchbacks as the trail begins to descend.
Before reaching the meadows, the trail splits again. Take the trail to the right, along the east perimeter of the meadow. Set up camp in one of the established campgrounds (camping in the meadow is prohibited), and take in the gorgeous view of Mt. Hood from the meadow. There are several streams that cross the north end of the meadow where you can resupply your water.
Return to your car by going back the same way that you came.
- Backpacking gear
- Trekking poles
- Bug spray
- Water bottle and filter
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Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Photography
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Great day hike, maybe not for first-timers
This is an awesome hike with up-close views of Mount Hood. Although I haven't camped in the meadow, I plan to return (possibly as a snowshoe + winter camp) since it would be tremendous to watch the sun set over the mountain and set up a camera to shoot some star trails. The only caveat to this hike is that the Newton Creek crossing really can be a turn-off for people who aren't used to hiking. The first time I checked out this trail, I went with non-outdoorsy family members and we actually turned around at the creek (and that was when the water levels were relatively low!).
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