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Lost Lake Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Evening reflection of Mount Hood at Lost Lake (Tom Kloster)
Footbridge near the lodge and general store (Tom Kloster)
Douglas-fir above the west shore of Lost Lake (bobcat)
False bugbane (Trautvetteria caroliniensis), west shore, Lost Lake (bobcat)
A boardwalk crosses cedar bog wetlands on the north shore of Lost Lake (Martell)


Hike Description

The scenic loop around Lost Lake is perhaps the best family hike for young children in this guide. The route is nearly level, there are numerous places to stop and poke feet or fingers into the lake, and parents will enjoy the classic views of Mount Hood during the final mile. Better yet, there are excellent campsites above the lake, though they're in high demand during peak summer months.

From the parking for the North Day Use Area, take steps down toward Lost Lake. A viewing platform offers you the Instagram vista across the lake to Mount Hood. (Lost Lake is said to be the most photographed lake in Oregon, and most of the photos are from this spot!) Turn left when you reach the Lakeshore Trail in order to begin a clockwise loop. You'll cross the Lake Branch, Lost Lake's outlet creek, on a pedestrian bridge, and pass some picnic tables and the boat rental shed, across the road from the general store. The Lakeshore Trail then passes picnic sites and reaches a small parking area. Follow this paved section through a thicket of Sitka alder, willow, and thimbleberry to cross the boat launch. Soon you'll be following an extensive boardwalk system along the east shore of the lake, with periodic fishing piers that are accessible for disabled visitors. Other trails lead up to campsites, which are no longer right along the lake shore. Throughout this section, the trail is flanked by old growth western red-cedar, Douglas-fir and western hemlock, with a few silver and noble fir mixed in. Pass the junction with the Old Growth Trail, and then negotiate a very muddy section of the Lakeshore Trail where it swings away from the shore.

At 1.2 miles, reach a junction with Huckleberry Mountain Trail #617, which climbs steeply for 2.5 miles to the Pacific Crest Trail. There are several primitive campsites shortly up this trail which may be available when the regular campsites are full and are convenient to backpackers coming down from the Pacific Crest Trail. Continue along the main route (right), crossing a cedar/skunk-cabbage bog on a boardwalk and soon getting views to Lost Lake Butte. Hike under large hemlocks and then through a lush thicket of bugbane, coltsfoot, thimbleberry, goat's beard, and lady fern. The trail crosses a scree slope and then reaches the water's edge before rising into a slope forest of large Douglas-firs. You'll soon descend again to the shore, however, and pass through thickets of salmonberry, thimbleberry, and devil's club. Reach a boggy flat area at the northwest corner of the lake, and begin a long boardwalk. Pass a private cabin on the left and, at 2.5 miles, cross Inlet Creek on another set of sturdy boardwalks. Numbered posts from an old nature trail begin to appear.

Next, the trail reenters a dense forest of western red cedar, and soon the branches of these graceful conifers frame one of the most famous mountain views in the world, as Mount Hood emerges across Lost Lake. For generations, scores of landscape photographers, including Oregon’s late Ray Atkeson, have patiently staked out the shoreline here in search of the perfect image.

PHOTO TIP: You can take your own calendar worthy photo of Lost Lake by following one of the informal paths that drop down to the shore from this final section of the main trail. There, you will find the mountain framed in cedar boughs. The best light is in early morning and early evening, with sunrise and sunset as the most photogenic times to capture the scene. The best seasons are in early July and late October, when the mountain is partly covered with snow, and foliage is at its brightest.

After a brief walk through deep, old-growth forest, the trail forks, with the upper route climbing to your vehicle at the Lost Lake Trailhead.

The best part of a hike with the family is finishing it with a reward of ice cream at the general store. Here you can also rent a canoe or row boat for an hour or a day. You can tie your visit in with tent camping in the campground, or alternatively rent a cabin for the weekend. Campsites must be reserved online and fill up completely on summer weekends.

During the winter months the road to the resort is not cleared of snow. Expect to not be able to reach the lake from early November through late spring.


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Government Camp, OR #461
  • Adventure Maps: Mt. Hood Area
  • Adventure Maps: Hood River, Oregon, Trail Map
  • Discover Your Northwest: Mt. Hood National Forest North: Trail Map & Hiking Guide
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Hood River Ranger District
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • $9 entrance fee (Northwest Forest Pass not accepted) or park at the Old Skyline North Trailhead
  • Store, campground, picnic area, boat rentals

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland by Paul Gerald
  • Oregon's Ancient Forests: A Hiking Guide by Chandra LeGue
  • Day Hiking Mount Hood: A Year-Round Guide by Eli Boschetto
  • 100 Hikes: Northwest Oregon by William L. Sullivan
  • Trips & Trails: Oregon by William L. Sullivan
  • Extraordinary Oregon! by Matt Reeder
  • PCX Hiking 365 by Matt Reeder
  • Curious Gorge by Scott Cook
  • Best Easy Day Hikes: Portland, Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • Day Hike! Columbia Gorge by Seabury Blair, Jr.
  • Take a Hike: Portland by Barbara I. Bond
  • Best Short Hikes in Northwest Oregon by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • Oregon Campgrounds Hiking Guide by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • Hiking Mount Hood National Forest by Marcia Sinclair
  • Best Old-growth Forest Hikes: Washington & Oregon Cascades by John & Diane Cissel
  • 105 Virtual Hikes of the Mt. Hood National Forest by Northwest Hiker
  • 50 Hikes in Oregon by David L. Anderson
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon's Columbia River Gorge: Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Scott Leonard & Sean Patrick Hill
  • A Walking Guide to Oregon's Ancient Forests by Wendell Wood
  • 70 Hiking Trails: Northern Oregon Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • 62 Hiking Trails: Northern Oregon Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Trail Running: Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • The Dog Lover's Companion to Oregon by Val Mallinson
  • Canine Oregon by Lizann Dunegan

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.