Need a Newbie Backpack Trail

Return to Message Board

After 18 years, I finally talk my son into going backpacking with me. He is not an avid hiker. I want this to be a great experience for him. I'd like him to see some great country without a huge elevation gain or long distance (though I'd like to flirt with the line of making him work to feel a sense of accomplishment but not to the point where he get's discouraged and hates it). I've always hit the Alpine country and those that I've done have fairly large elevation gains. I've never done Jefferson Park. Is there a fairly reasonable way there for a new hiker? I've also never done Tam MacCarthur Rim - Same question plus how is water on that trail? Ideally it would be within 2-3 hours from Portland. Obsidian Falls is another thought I had but I think that requires a permit??? Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!

Thanks for the input all. I'll bag Jefferson Park for the outing. Elk Cove and Mt Adams both sound good. Is the Elk Cove trail near where the forest fire on Mt Hood is at present? How far of a drive is it to the Mt Adams CG you referred to?
I've done Jefferson Park from the north, and probably wouldn't recommend that route for a new hiker. The hike up to Park Ridge is fairly constant, only to have to drop a thousand feet back down into the park. The view from Park ridge however is spectacular!
Hey Mike, just did a trail on Mt. Adams today that may work for you. We drove up to Cold Springs Campground on the south side, and from there its moderately-graded one mile path to the Round the Mountain Trail. Once you get that first mile over with (which isn't really too bad either...looks like 600 feet up or so), the Round the Mountain trail is pretty easy walking. The views of Adams are great, and get better as you head west around the mountain. A couple possible destinations may be Lookingglass Lake (which we were trying to get to but ran out of time) or Horseshoe Meadow. The trail meets up with the Pacific Crest Trial roughly 6 miles from the trailhead, so you can really go as far as you want.
You should give Elk Cove from Cloud Cap Saddle a try (Northeast Mt. Hood). The trailhead starts at almost 6,000' so it does most of the climbing for you, then its about four miles to elk cove. There is still some elevation gain and loss, but is probably worth looking into.