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Above Paradise Park

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Rock, 0.1 mile above the Paradise Loop Trail near the North fork of Lost Creek (Jerry Adams)
Walking up to the rock (Jerry Adams)
Tent at the 6200' high point on the continuation of the Paradise Park Trail (Jerry Adams)
A difficult off trail route goes to the left of Mississippi Head (Jerry Adams)



One of the nice things about Paradise Park is how easy it is to go off trail above the main trail (Paradise Loop Trail).

There are at least 3 faint trails going up from the Paradise Loop Trail: the continuation of the Paradise Park Trail, a route up from the South Fork of Lost Creek, and 0.1 mile north of the North Fork of Lost Creek.

On the Paradise Park Trail continuation, there is a high point at about 6200' that is flat enough to put a tent. It's quite exposed if the weather gets windy or wet. You'd have to bring drinking water from Lost Creek.

On the North Fork Lost Creek trail, about 0.1 mile and 100' above the Paradise Loop Trail is this large rock, actually twin rocks about 15 feet high. There are two plaques memorializing ex-Forest Service employees. Right next to it is a nice campsite, but quite exposed if it's windy or wet. You can find shelter from wind behind the rock.

On all three routes above the Paradise Loop Trail you can find faint trails up ridges to about 7000'. The ridges are glacial moraines - when glaciers receded, they left a load of rocks which are the ridges.

Above here, the three routes converge and it starts getting more difficult, beyond what most people would want to do. Mississippi Head is the large cliff to the south, above the Zigzag Canyon. Just to the north of this is a route up. There is loose gravel or if you're lucky, snow. It's somewhat steep, but not much worse than Paradise Park. Just make sure and look back occasionally to see where you came from for the return route. The big danger here is accidentally going over Mississippi Head. From above, it looks just like the rest of the gravel slope, and then all of a sudden you're going over the cliff.

The top of Mississippi Head is at 7200'. From here you can continue going up to about 8000'. At this elevation you can cross above the impassable Zigzag Canyon. You can continue further up to the south side Mount Hood climbing route, but you're getting onto the Zigzag Glacier which might have crevasses to fall into so you better stop here. It doesn't get really steep until maybe 9600' where you start getting into rockfall hazard.

After you cross above the Zigzag Canyon at about 8000', you can go back down to the Zigzag Overlook, which is a distinctive feature you can see from way above.

Again, be careful if you attempt this off trail section and frequently look back to know how to return without falling over Mississippi Head.

Getting lost in the Zigzag Canyon is a common mistake made by South side climbers ending in disastrous results.

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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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