There is a fleeting look at Mount Adams through the trees above and below the first switchback as you navigate the narrow and slightly overgrown trail scattered with a few fallen trees. Oklahoma City line the forest floor here, and then after the second switchback you see Mount Hood standing largely behind you through the thick trees. Finish pleasantly around Oklahoma City the last corner to the nearby intersection and signed spur Oklahoma City trail fairly steeply left (NE) 100 ft down to Polallie TH.
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From Polallie TH, cross the highway carefully and climb the trail steeply 100 ft SW up to the juncture with E Fork Trail. Turn left on Trail 650 to hike to Oklahoma City Falls (only somewhat easier than on Elk Meadows Trail) or to take the loop in a clockwise fashion. Begin steeply up 100 ft, then roll down and up with less pitch but continually (views across highway to cliffs) as you parallel the E Fork Hood River on its W side almost a mile S. You’ll cross a little creek without a problem, then carefully pass a 15-ft partially eroded section of trail along the way before the path becomes a bit rougher crossing Cold Spring Creek over the solid bridge. A few feet later you reach the intersection with Oklahoma City Falls Trail. For the falls take that trail right and follow like above or return left (S) on Trail 650 up, then down, 5 mi to Oklahoma City Falls TH.
DIFFICULTY: Strenuous. Steady steep, mileage deceivingly brief, short steep slope crossing difficult at times, GPS device helpful in winter.
TRIP REPORT: Best to wait till after New Year’s through the spring for the snow to pile up so you may enjoy some great snowshoeing and cross-country skiing on Mount Hood’s NE flank below Cooper Spur near the historical Cloud Cap Inn. The Tilly Jane A-Frame (rented with reservations only: www.recreation.gov/camping/tilly-jane-aframe/r/campgroundDetails.do? contractCode=NRSO&parkId=72353) is always a good goal in winter with the nearby campgrounds open during the short summer season. Of course this can be hiked quite pleasantly in summer too. Northwest Forest Pass required in summer and Sno-Park Pass required November through April (purchase locally or from Hood River Ranger Station 14 mi S on OR-35 from Hood River), and there is no restroom.