Tom Dick and Harry July 2022

It doesn’t take much to get me outside. We are enjoying a nice Friday evening outside and Tracy asks if I want to go on a hike Saturday. Sure I said without even knowing where. She had two places in mind. One was around Mt. St. Helens and the other at Mt. Hood. I had been to neither so let her pick. We decided to meet at a grocery store in Gresham and head to the Tom Dick and Harry trail around Government Camp. it was a beautiful day so we expected it to be busy, which it was.

Across the valley and down the mountain. Mt. Hood is way off to the right still mostly obscured.

The trail head is easy to get to and when we arrived to our surprise the parking lot wasn’t very full. This is a popular hike because of Mirror Lake and the view of Mt. Hood from the ridge line. Cars can be parked all the way to Ski Bowl which is a hike just to get to the hike. Fortunately we didn’t have to bother with that and got a good spot.

For the most part the trail is tree covered which was great. It was going to be a warm day so having the shade really helped. Not long after you start the paved trail gives way to a rough trail that as the further up the mountain you go, the narrower it becomes. It is also a pretty steady climb which was nice. It’s about 4-5 miles to the ridge line and a 1400’ elevation change over that distance. It was a work out don’t get me wrong but I never felt like my thighs were on fire or anything.

Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness

You climb through reforested federal land. There are tree stumps and notches cut into some others that loggers would put boards in, stand on, and then cut down the tree. We have come a long way in how we cut trees. Thankfully there are no deforested parts along the trail. I believe Tracy said they don’t use this forest for logging. Between Oregon and Washington there is a lot of state land that is easier to cut.

About halfway up the trail you come across Mirror Lake. We took the long way which took us around the long side of the lake. Lots of mesquites here which sucked. Even with all the other people I was eaten alive. On the other side of the lake you get a really good view of Mt. Hood. It was breezy that day so no calm water providing a mirror finish but still good. You can primitive camp around the lake and swim which is a popular on hot summer days. This portion of the trail goes through marsh land and the path isn’t raised to get you over the water. We instead cut our own path through the woods to go around. Always keeping the lake to our right till we ran into the main trail again.

After the lake you enter the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness and continue up the mountain to the ridge line. Here are some more great views. As you come up the mountain there is a rock slide area which has knocked down all the trees. From here you get a good view of the valley below and Rt 26 up the mountain. Barely visible to the far right is Mt. Hood again. You also see a lot of rhododendrons around this elevation. They were all in bloom which was really cool.

Further up the mountain you finally get to some switch backs. There is a huge pill of rocks that indicate “trail is behind you dummy” as you go up. One thing that really bugged me there are no trail markers. A few times it would have been nice to see a trail blaze to indicate direction. This later section is by far the most steep, narrow, and twisty of the entire trail. Still not a very difficult hike. Even the elevation change isn’t bad because it’s stretched over such a long distance.

Mt. Hood

The final section is a short rock scramble to the ridge line. Here you get some amazing views of the surrounding mountains. In all it’s glory Mt. Hood looms large in your view. If you look closely you can see Timberline and the ski area. Below is Mirror Lake. Behind you is Mt. Jefferson. We could see Mt. Adams and someone said on a really clear day you can see Mt. Rainer. The trail continues along the ridge line a little further but Tracy and I called it here. The view was spectacular so we broke for lunch.

I could have spent hours on the ridge. The view is just that damn good. And it’s a full 360 degrees too which is amazing. Don’t like what you are looking at, turn 90 degrees for something new. Just keep turning till you find something you like. Even late in the afternoon there were nearly two dozen people on the ridge. Plenty of space for everyone to spreed out but if you are looking for quite, this isn’t it.

After lunch and many pictures we headed down the trail. We continued our conversation about Tracy’s work and all sorts of things about parks and government land. Fascinating stuff if you ask me. On our way down we ran into many groups of people hiking to the ridge like we did. This time of year it’s daylight till very late so hiking is popular in summer. Back at the parking lot I noticed it was pretty damn full. People were parking down near Ski Bowl. On the way down the mountain we stopped at Skyway Bar and Grill for a well deserved beer and some BBQ.

Just a fantastic day to be outside enjoying nature with good company. The weather was perfect and the views amazing. The conversation from the group of college kids on the ridge line was priceless. The lake was beautiful but the mosquitos sucked. Bring bug spray if you are enjoying the lake for any extended period of time. The views from the ridge line make the hike a worthy one. Make sense this is a very busy and well traveled hike around Mt. Hood. I will definitely be back for another watch party.