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Little Zigzag Falls Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Little Zigzag Falls (Gene Blick)
Small cascade on Little Zigzag Creek (bobcat)
Devil's club leaves in the fall, Little Zigzag Creek (bobcat)
Little Zigzag Falls in winter (bobcat)
The trail to Little Zigzag Falls (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo/USFS
  • Start point: Little Zigzag Falls TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • Ending Point: Little Zigzag Falls
  • Hike type: In and out
  • Distance: 0.8 miles round-trip
  • Elevation gain: 180 feet
  • High Point: 3,350 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Description

This is a short trail along a beautiful stream to a photogenic waterfall, which tumbles in two splashing drops for a total of 41 feet. The trailhead here is in an old quarry used to build the original Mount Hood Highway, which now is blocked off to further vehicle traffic at this point. There’s an information sign that describes the construction of the highway in 1923. The original bridge over Little Zigzag Creek is near the parking area. Signage also touts the benefits of negative ions, which are generated in abundance by cascading creeks and waterfalls.

The Little Zigzag Falls Trail #795C enters the forest just past a picnic table and under a rock face. This is a pleasant mossy stroll alongside Little Zigzag Creek. You'll cross two footbridges over a boggy area. The devil’s club and skunk-cabbage flourish in the muck, while huckleberry and rhododendron form the understory under Douglas-fir and western hemlock. The rhododendrons erupt in pink blooms in July. A user trail that leads up to the top of the falls parts from the main tread. Little Zigzag Falls splashes prettily down a rock face, resembling a mini Ramona Falls. At the falls, there’s a memorial bench to Helen and Jim Ogle.

A loop is possible. You can cross the creek on a log above the falls, and then do a short bushwhack up to a ridge to join the Pioneer Bridle Trail. Go right to follow the Bridle Trail down to the Old Mount Hood Highway, which will deliver you to the trailhead.

In the winter, there is usually snow, but the access road is plowed to the Kiwanis Camp a short distance from the trailhead, so it makes a good winter hike or snowshoe.

Fees / Regulations

  • Northwest Forest Pass or America the Beautiful Pass (Interagency Pass; Golden Passport) required at Little Zigzag Falls Trailhead.
  • Picnic table, interpretive signs
  • Dogs on leash

Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Little Zigzag Falls Trail #795C (USFS)
  • Green Trails: Government Camp, OR #461
  • Adventure Maps: Mt. Hood Area
  • Geo-Graphics: Mount Hood Wilderness Map
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Zigzag Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest North
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood Wilderness

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks

  • Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon by Adam Sawyer
  • Best Hikes With Kids: Oregon by Bonnie Henderson & Zach Urness
  • Hikes & Walks on Mt. Hood by Sonia Buist & Emily Keller
  • Best Short Hikes in Northwest Oregon by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • Hiking Mount Hood National Forest by Marcia Sinclair
  • Hiking Oregon's Mount Hood & Badger Creek Wilderness by Fred Barstad
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan
  • 105 Virtual Hikes of the Mt. Hood National Forest by Northwest Hiker
  • Waterfall Lover's Guide: Pacific Northwest by Gregory A. Plumb

More Links


Page 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.