Hiking Cooper Spur
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What’s to Love: Cooper Spur is technically a climbing route to the summit of Mt. Hood. However, much of the approach is a very exhilarating hike along a rocky, narrow ridge. The hike culminates with a scramble up a scree slope to “Tie-in-Rock.” This is the place where technical climbers rope-up for the snow/ice climb to the summit. I have hiked this many times over the years, and I always get a thrill from being so close to Mt. Hood.

Caveats: This is definitely for experienced hikers and/or adventurous families! The exposure on the ridge can be a bit frightening for some. My son hiked most of it when he 2 1/2, and I’ve seen children on the ridge. If they do hike it, keep a close eye on them. The 11 mile drive up to Cloud Cap Campground is a winding, dirt road, which often gets me car sick.

Website: Hiking Website – Cooper Spur

Distance from Portland: At least 60 minutes to Hood River. Plan on another hour to get to Cloud Cap Campground. I’ve made it in less than 2 hours, but I was really pushing it up the access road. Give yourself plenty of time to drive up this road – it can be dangerous, and fast driving kicks up a lot of dust for other drivers.

Recommended Ages: Older children (5 years and older) are your best bet here; although, many don’t like to hike by the age of 6 or 7. If you’re with younger children (2 years or younger), make sure you have a child carrier – preferably one that is a backpack. On this hike, you’re completely exposed to the elements – keep a close eye on the weather. If there is an emergency, you’re a long way from help.

Parental Stress Factor: Medium stress! It’s not a difficult hike, but it is tremendously exposed in some places. If you’re not carrying your kids, you’ll definitely be a bit nervous. Common sense will keep everyone safe. Being this exposed and far from help, makes this hike a medium stress factor.

Physical Difficulty: Medium to High

Family Fun Factor: Medium -if you’re not much of a hiking/outdoor family, this may be WAY too much for you. However, if you’re adventurous and in pretty good physical condition, you’ll have a blast on this hike. You will get some great pictures and create some lasting family memories.

Pet Friendly: Yes! Keep an eye on your dog on the ridge as well.

Weather Considerations: This is not a hike for a rainy day. The whole point is to get a picture-perfect view of Mt. Hood. Try this hike on a beautiful, sunny, summer day.

Insider Info: With this hike, you’ll drive to Cloud Cap Campground, which is within 1 mile of the ridge crest. There are some faint climbing/guide trails that splinter off the main trail. To get to the ridge, you may have to do a bit of scrambling up a rocky slope. All the difficult parts are short-lived. Be prepared!

You can get to this hike by taking 26 to Sandy, but I recommend taking 84 East to Hood River, and highway 35 from there. It’s much faster due to the fact you can go 65 miles per hour for most of the trip.

Family Tips: Carry a first-aid kit with you on this trip, even a simple injury can turn into an emergency without any supplies. Also, if you’re a backpacking family, bring a stove with you, so you can enjoy some hot drinks up on the ridge. We like to make a whole day of this trip. Hood River makes a great stop for lunch or dinner. It’s one of my favorite towns in this area. They have a great toy store for little kids. Plus, if it’s a windy day, your family can always head down to the river to check out the wind surfers and the kite boarders.

Technorati Tags: Cooper Spur, Mt. Hood hikes, Hood River, Cloud Cap Campground

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