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Kinzel Lake Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Kinzel Lake (bobcat)
The Salmon River, Salmon River Trail (bobcat)
The Salmon River valley from a viewpoint (bobcat)
Northern star flower (Trientalis borealis), Kinzel Lake (bobcat)
Trail route to Kinzel Lake (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Salmon River TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Kinzel Lake
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 17.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 3455 feet
  • High Point: 4315 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Seasons: Summer into Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: Only on the Salmon River Trail

Contents

Hike Description

Even though, it is close to the rough Sherar Burn Road and the Devil's Peak Trailhead, little Kinzel Lake is a good destination for a longer day hike or backpack when approached from the Salmon River Trailhead. Since it also guarantees a sure source of water, it may be a better overnight site than Devil's Peak in the late summer or early fall, when the spring near the latter often runs dry. Kinzel Lake itself is botanically unusual and this hike also allows you to experience a ruggedly beautiful section of the Salmon River as it runs through wilderness.

From the trailhead, hike up next to the pristine, shaded Salmon River and cut across a bend in deep woods. The trail swings out to the river again and then cuts off another bend. Cross a small boardwalk, note some large Douglas-firs, and cross a plank bridge over a gully. Come to a bend in the river under a maple-cloaked cliff, and pass a large cedar on the left. Hike through lush woods of cedar, Douglas-fir and hemlock. Oxalis and sword fern are the main ingredients in the forest carpet. Cross a bigger creek on a log bridge, pass a wilderness permit box and map board and then the wilderness sign. From now on, spurs to the right lead to numerous campsites as you hike close to the river. Rise to cross a small brook and then a creek. Look around you and admire the big Douglas-firs. Keep rising in shady woodland, passing by a small boulder field. Now reach a split in the trail. The right track crosses an exposed meadow below the Salmon River Viewpoint and then switchbacks up to rejoin the main trail. On the return, you can take the "inland" trail, which prefers the shady woods with some detours to rocky viewpoints. After the trails come together, a spur right leads to a grassy viewpoint, and then you pass by a few seeps. Another spur trail leads down to a campsite as you come close to the Salmon River again. Drop down and in to cross another creek. After this, pass by a steep grassy meadow and promontory and look for a scramble trail that leads down to the canyon bottom for a view of Frustration Falls. Drop into the Goat Creek drainage and cross Goat Creek in hemlock and Douglas-fir forest. There are trails down to several campsites on the right. Come to a small creek and hike on a level trail. A spur trail right leads to a view of Little Niagara Falls far below. Step across another creek and pass some campsites on the left. Cross one more creek and walk in shady forest to reach the Salmon River-Kinzel Lake Trail Junction and go left.

The Kinzel Lake Trail is at first level and thickly vegetated with salal, rhododendron, and vine maple. Then, switchback up three times, make a long ascent, and switchback again. Keep ascending in a forest of forest of western hemlock, vine maple and Douglas-fir. Switchback twice on a hot, exposed trail in a former burn sporadically shaded with young Douglas-fir, mountain hemlock, chinquapin and rhododendron. Kinzel Creek is rushing down to the right as you pass a wilderness sign. Cross an old, cleared path through the woods, the route of the old communications line up to the lookout.

In silver fir and rhododendron forest, reach an unmarked junction on the right. Take the incredibly steep, short and sliding use trail down to Kinzel Lake. The trail parts about halfway down. Left goes to a campsite, which is where you would head initially if you are spending the night. You can also go right; this fork leads steeply down to an alder/willow marsh and, past the thicket, a bog of northern star flower, sundew, marsh cinquefoil and false asphodel. Enjoy the tranquillity of this unusual little body of water; if you camping here, then a day trip to Devil's Peak and its lookout is in order. That's a short hike of about 1 1/2 miles from Kinzel Lake.


Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Government Camp, OR #461 and High Rock, OR #493
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness, Bull of the Woods Wilderness, Opal Creek Wilderness, Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Zigzag Ranger District
  • Discover Your Northwest: Mt. Hood National Forest North: Trail Map & Hiking Guide
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood
  • Adventure Maps: Mt. Hood Area

Regulations or Restrictions, etc.

  • Self-issued wilderness permit

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 50 Hiking Trails: Portland and Northwest Oregon by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain

More Links


Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.