Yocum Ridge offers hikers the ability to marvel at Mt. Hood’s glaciated western slope from a beautiful, flower filled alpine meadow. In addition, the beautiful but popular Ramona Falls is a nice highlight along the trail. Because of the distance from the trailhead to Yocum Ridge, this can be one of the least crowded destinations on Mt. Hood. Even though the trailhead may be packed, once you pass Ramona Falls, you will quickly lose yourself in the solitude.
Begin your hike from the Ramona Falls Trailhead and head out of the south end of the parking lot. The trail heads up the Sandy River for about a mile until you come to one of the most "interesting" parts of the hike; crossing the Sandy. The footbridge that crossed the river washed out in August of 2014, leaving you on your own to cross the river. The water is extremely turbid with glacial sediment, so it's like trying to look through a glass of chocolate milk . In addition, the current can be very swift, especially after some rains or during snowmelt season. Rather than wade across the river, there are lots of logs usually jammed up where you can make your way across if you have any semblance of balance. The biggest problem we had was getting our dog across. The river appears too deep and swift and with too many logs crisscrossing it to allow him to swim for it. In addition, because most of the logs are all slammed together, when your crossing on them, you can use the extra logs to hold on to while you are stepping over more of them. Not to bad for us people with long legs and hands, but not so easy for a dog that has to jump over the sideways logs while walking on another. On our way up the mountain, we found a single log that he was willing to run across. On the way back, he was pretty tired and not really into it. I ended up having to carry his fat ass across. Balancing on a log, walking over a river, cradling a 50-pound dog in your arms can be a little stressful. Just so you’re aware.
After crossing the river, you will join the Pacific Crest Trail for the next 1.5 miles as it works its way up the river and the mountain. After this, the trail will split and you will take the left fork towards Ramona Falls. It is less than ½ a mile to the falls and it’s nice, cool, shaded grotto. The falls fan out as they tumble 120 feet down to the valley floor. A nice bridge passes over the creek, giving you up close and personal views of the falls.
Once you’ve had your fill of the falls, continue over the bridge on your way to Yocum Ridge. The trail splits almost immediately, with the left fork completing the Ramona Falls trail loop. Stay to the right on the Timberline Trail as it begins to climb the flank of the ridge. After ¾ of a mile, you will reach another trail junction, this time with the Yocum Ridge trail. Take a hard right and begin your slow and steady climb.
You will remain deep under the forest canopy for the next 3.5 miles or so, with an occasional viewpoint poking through. There are a couple of spots during this climb where you will encounter a small stream and you may want to take advantage of them if you need some water because there isn’t anything reliable higher up. There is also a small pond in a grassy meadow that makes for a nice break spot a little more than 2 miles up the ridge.
You will finally begin breaking out of the trees around mile 7.5 of your hike. At first, the trees will thin and if you are there at the right time of year, a beautiful sea of flowers will cover the grassy meadows. Within the next ½ mile you will come on your first real viewpoint of Hood, and what a view it is. You will hit a point overlooking the Sandy River where it has cut a canyon 1000 feet below you. Look up towards the mountain and see where the river begins as a series of waterfalls from the Reid Glacier. If you are backpacking, some people will throw their tent up here, but there is more to come if you are up for it.
Continue on the trail as it turns back to the west and then north. After another ½ mile of flower filled meadows, you will reach the northern edge of the ridge overlooking the Muddy Fork valley. The trail turns back to the east as it climbs up the mountain. Shortly after this turn, there are a number of places to pitch a tent right off the trail. As you continue on, about 9 miles into the hike, the trail enters a scree field as it traverses the ridge below some cliffs. This can get a little sketchy as there really isn’t a definite path and the ground and rocks are extremely loose. Just try to pick out where the trail exits the scree field and slowly work your way towards it. In less than ¼ mile you will pop out on a knife edge ridge. Follow it for another ¼ mile to reach the terminus of the ridge as it disappears into the west face of Mt Hood. There are a few more camping opportunities up here as well.
To reach the Ramona Falls trailhead, head north on Lolo Pass Rd from Highway 26 in Zigzag. Follow the road for 4 miles until you reach the Muddy Fork Road. Take the right fork and follow the road for about ¾ of a mile. Then, bear right and cross a bridge over the Sandy River and continue on for another 1.7 miles. Once again, the road will split but remain on the Muddy Fork road as it bears left and heads to the trailhead.
Passes: Northwest Forest Pass is required at this trailhead. A free, self-issue wilderness permit is required upon entering the wilderness.
Dogs: Allowed and must be on leash or under voice command at all times.
Usage: Heavy to Ramona Falls - Light after that.
Open Season: Higher elevation trails usually melt off sometime in July and remain open until the first snow falls.
Bugs: Mosquitos can be bad during the melt season, usually June-July, then will mostly clear up moving into August.
Flowers: Different flowers will bloom depending on elevation, but July and early August are usually peak months.