[/caption] One of the best hikes in the Mt. Hood wilderness is the Timberline Lodge Trails that follows north along the PCT and then connects to the Paradise Park trail. The hike starts at Timberline lodge and all of the trails are clearly marked just north of the lodge. The entire loop is over 12 miles and has over 2300 feet of elevation gain. However, the most difficult part of the hike isn’t the distance or elevation gain but the volcanic ash that you have to hike on. It’s like hiking on sand but very steep and hard on your pelvis. Your recovery time is almost double as any other long and steep hike that you have ever done. It doesn’t help that the trails have been trampled by millions of hikers but to make matters worse is the amount of ground up ash left by the activity of Mt. Hood’s violent history. You will have to navigate down and then up again through two canyons that are 200 feet and 700 feet respectively. That’s 1800 feet of elevation change from just two of the canyons alone. The trail is very dusty and dry but there are dozens of creeks that flow through the trails so there is no shortage of water to cool off or clean the sand from your body. If you make the hike in late August you will be surrounded by millions of lupine and other wildflowers. You will literally smell the wildflowers for most of the hike and it will literally smell like your standing in a flower shop. The hike itself parallels the mountain but due to the deep chasms the hike is very difficult and grueling. However, you will be glad that you made the hike since you have the opportunity to hike up to some of the mountains most spectacular scenery. There are several waterfalls cascading down the steep canyons that are almost impossible to get to but close enough that you can get some great photos. There are also thousands of butterfly’s and bees engulfing the flowers.