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Paradise Park-Hidden Lake Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

In Paradise Park (bobcat)
Lower end, Paradise Park Trail (bobcat)
Lewis' monkey flower (Erythranthe lewisii), Lost Creek, Paradise Park (bobcat)
Split Rock, Paradise Park (bobcat)
Waterfall in Zigzag Canyon, Timberline Trail (bobcat)
Hidden Lake, Hidden Lake Trail (bobcat)
The wilderness loops described - with about a mile of road walking (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Paradise Park TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Paradise Park
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Figure of eight loop
  • Distance: 18.1 miles
  • Elevation gain: 4300 feet
  • High Point: 5,840 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Seasons: Summer into Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: At Paradise Park and on Timberline/Pacific Crest Trail

Contents

Description

If you want to get a good impression of the different layers of climate/vegetation zones on the west slope of Mount Hood, this loop hike starts you in typical lowland woodland and then passes you into the montane forest zone, which is followed by subalpine parklands. The destination, of course, is the alpine fell area above the treeline in Paradise Park, best visited from late July through August for prime-time flower blooms. The hike, in essence, takes you up one side of the deeply incised Zigzag River Canyon and then down the other, via the Hidden Lake Trail, with the loop around Paradise Park making it a figure of eight. Be prepared for a long day, as you'll want to tarry in the alpine zone and also, perhaps, splash yourself down at any of the numerous creek crossings. While there will be a lot of human action along the Timberline/Pacific Crest Trail and in Paradise Park, your long access and egress using the forested lower slopes will most likely be quite peaceful. The Paradise Park Trail is used by horses and is usually well-maintained; the Hidden Lake Trail can get brushy on its upper reaches.

The trail begins in an old campground with the Zigzag River rushing to the right. It’s a clear understory at first, quiet and shady and carpeted with moss. Hemlock, cedar and Douglas-fir provide the canopy. The path switchbacks past an information kiosk and up a bank. Salal, pipsissewa, rhododendron, and red huckleberry contribute to the understory here. Hike gradually up past the wilderness permit box. Then switchback past large Douglas-firs in a vine maple understory. Traverse up and swing right with lady fern, sword fern and Oregon grape dominating now. The trail makes three long switchbacks and then levels in rhododendron, cedar and hemlock woods. Drop a little to reach the edge of Zigzag Canyon. The track heads up in the woods on the edge of the canyon. A spur leads right to the Paradise Park Lower Viewpoint, where you can get vistas towards Mirror Lake and Tom Dick and Harry Mountain. Now mountain hemlock and lodgepole pine are in the mix. Hike steadily up under both western and mountain hemlocks, Douglas-fir and cedar with some western white pines. Bear-grass and rhododendrons form the understory. Pass through a blueberry patch and enter the silver fir zone. The path makes two switchbacks, heading up in a montane woodland of mountain hemlock, silver fir, and noble fir. Cross a footbrdige over a brook and switchback. The trail drops to another footbridge and wends up past two noble firs on the left (one has been split off by lightning) and then there is a series of six switchbacks before the trail rises and then switchbacks twice more. Cross a gully and reach the edge of the canyon to switchback again. Wind up and keep right at the Paradise Park-Zigzag Mountain Trail Junction.

The trail now enters meadows blooming with heliotrope, lupine and groundsel in mid-summer. Head up to a viewpoint over Zigzag Canyon and switchback. The route winds up through this parkland and reaches the four-way Pacific Crest-Paradise Park Trail Junction, where you keep straight to continue up through more mountain hemlock/ subalpine fir parkland blooming with lupine, false hellebore, paintbrush, heliotrope, and groundsel. Here the gradient is quite steep, but soon you reach the Paradise Park Loop-Paradise Park Trail Junction.

A use trail heads straight to above the tree line, but keep left on the Paradise Park Loop Trail #757. This tread winds up and then traverses and then descends to the South Fork of Lost Creek Crossing in a lovely flower-filled valley. Heading up, you come a campsite area and the site of the now-destroyed Paradise Park Cabin (This may be a good point to turn around if you wan to shave some miles off the loop). Keep right here and traverse (Going down from the campsite to the left will only take you to more campsites). False hellebore blooms luxuriantly on these slopes in summer. Make the North Fork of Lost Creek Crossing, and pass along open slopes of pyroclastic material and see Split Rock up to your right before stepping over another creek. The west face of Mount Hood, including Mississippi Head and the Zigzag Glacier, looms above. Traverse open meadows blooming with mariposa, false hellebore, lupine, paintbrush, partridge foot, and knotweed. Towhead babies, the seed heads of pasque flower, stud the grasslands later in the summer. Ahead, one can see the verdant spine of Yocum Ridge before the trail turns west and wends down through small meadows and mountain ash thickets. At the Pacific Crest-Paradise Park Loop North Trail Junction, go left.

The trail heads through shady silver fir/mountain hemlock woods and crosses small creeks. Begin to ascend and then drop down the lush side of Rushingwater Creek Canyon, with its spindly waterfall and verdant bottom. Ascend the bare, pyroclastic opposite bank and reenter woods where a spur trail goes down to the right to campsites. The path makes a traverse and heads gradually down into Lost Creek Canyon with its two waterfalls above the Lost Creek Crossing. Make another traverse and meet the four-way Pacific Crest-Paradise Park Trail Junction.

Here, keep straight to a viewpoint over Zigzag Canyon, from which you can see Multorpor Mountain and all the way south to Mount Jefferson. The trail switchbacks down to the left in silver fir forest and makes two more switchbacks before passing the Pacific Crest-Paradise Park Loop South Trail Junction. The path crosses a gully and then an open slope carpeted with kinnikinnick and with good views of a waterfall below, eventually reaching the bottom of Zigzag Canyon. Rock hop the Zigzag River Crossing, and head up in a willow thicket and then moist silver fir woods. Pass along a damp slope where the tread can be muddy. The trail switchbacks and traverses up, crossing another footbridge. A spur leads left to a view of the canyon (but not the waterfall). The route now heads rather steeply up and switchbacks past a lush spring area blooming with bog orchids. After this, the path enters drier woodland. Switchback and traverse up in mountain hemlock/silver fir/huckleberry forest. Cross an open meadow and keep rising, getting a view of the canyon and Mount Hood on the left. The sandy track leads up to the main Zigzag Overlook, again with sweeping views of the mountain's southwest slopes. Then the trail traverses right across aster meadows and copses of fir and hemlock. Head into and out of a gully and cross another meadow, passing a gushing spring. After this, the path heads up in woods past a campsite. Switchback up the ridge under mountain hemlock and silver fir. Continue to wind up to the Pacific Crest-Hidden Lake Trail Junction.

Make a right and head downward on the Hidden Lake Trail #779. First, you'll encounter small meadows blooming with lupine and then the trail enters a mature mountain hemlock/ silver fir/ huckleberry forest carpeted with bear-grass. The trail reaches the edge of Zigzag Canyon and winds down: it can be somewhat brushy on this descent. The tread levels on a ridgecrest and then gently descends and rises among rhododendrons. Soon, drop off the edge of a ridge and make a switchback. This lower section of the trail is wider than the upper section. Make four switchbacks down the face of a ridge and reach a creek rushing to the left. The trail crosses the creek and heads down before leveling. A 50-yard spur left leads to the creek exit from Hidden Lake. Cross this to get to the swampy shore of the small lake and a campsite. Willow and skunk-cabbage crowd the fringe of this small body of water. Heading back to the main trail, go left and reach the creek again. The trail crosses the creek and switchbacks up past another spur leading left to campsites at the lake. The trail rises slightly in silver fir, western hemlock, Douglas-fir and cedar woods. Then, the track undulates up and down on a mostly level plane before heading down the side of the canyon in two quick switchbacks. The tread levels on a ridgecrest and reaches a viewpoint, from which the noise from nearby Highway 26 is rather loud. Make four switchbacks down from here, passing a picnic table and information kiosk, to the Hidden Lake Trailhead on Road 39.

It’s 0.9 miles down to the Paradise Park Trailhead turnoff, and another 0.2 miles into the trailhead parking area. Go right on the paved road and pass Camp Kiwanis. Little Zigzag Creek rushes to the left and the Zigzag River is to the right. Alders and hemlocks provide a shady canopy. Eventually, reach the turnoff for the Paradise Park Trailhead, and make a right to cross the Zigzag River bridge and reach your vehicle.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Self-issued wilderness permit

Maps

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • The Paradise Park and Hidden Lake Trails are described separately in these guidebooks:
  • Best Hikes Near Portland by Fred Barstad
  • Hiking Oregon's Mount Hood & Badger Creek Wilderness by Fred Barstad
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • 70 Hiking Trails: Northern Oregon Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • 62 Hiking Trails: Northern Oregon Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe

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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.

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