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Mirror Lake Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Mount Hood alpenglow from Mirror Lake (Tom Kloster)
The bridge over Camp Creek, Mirror Lake Trail (bobcat)
New section of the trail to Mirror Lake (bobcat)
Fencing at a switchback, Mirror Lake Trail (bobcat)
The cliffs of Tom Dick and Harry Mountain tower above Mirror Lake (Tom Kloster)
Mt. Hood from Mirror Lake (bobcat)
The trail and loop around Mirror Lake (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo/USFS
  • Start point: Mirror Lake TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Mirror Lake
  • Trail Log:
  • Distance: 4.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 640 feet
  • High Point: 4,135 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: Late spring through latefFall; popular snowshoe hike in winter
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: Yes - limited camping at Mirror Lake
  • Crowded: Weekends year-round

Contents

Description

The Mirror Lake Trail has the misfortune of being one of the few hikes accessible directly from Highway 26 and thus suffers a crush of visitors on weekends. The attention is well-deserved: The well-graded trail takes you to a serene mountain lake with picture-postcard views of Mount Hood and rugged Tom Dick and Harry Mountain towering above. With the old trailhead decommissioned in 2018, visitors now have a longer hike but with somewhat less elevation gain from the new Mirror Lake Trailhead. The new trail was machine-built, so it's wide and verged with debris from the operation. There are 10 footbridges on this new section; nine of them were airlifted in by helicopter.

From the plaza at the parking area, find the paved ADA trail that leads down a slope behind the restrooms. Six winding switchbacks descend to a wide footbridge over Camp Creek, where the paved section ends. You're in a secondary forest of Douglas-fir, western hemlock, silver fir, noble fir, and western red-cedar. Before Camp Creek, a pole-and-rail barrier prevents shortcutting at a switchback.

After Camp Creek, you're on a wide duff trail. Cross two footbridges over seasonally dry gullies. The next bridge crosses the creek that drains the Comerford Lakes. Rise gradually to cross more footbridges over trickling creeks that feed small bogs below. Rhododendrons enter the understory, and you'll see springboard notches on rotting stumps. The trail undulates along, passing over more bridges, and soon crosses Mirror Lake Creek. Cross an old logging road, and then bend sharp left to rise steeply and intersect the old tread which came up from the U.S. 26 trailhead. Whole trees have been felled over this path to decommission it.

Switchback on the narrower old tread, and pass a vine maple-verged patch of talus. Walk on another old logging road for a few yards, pass through a devil's club thicket, and switchback up twice to where a new pole-and-rail fence prevents cutting corners. Reach the Mirror Lake-Mirror Lake Shore Trail North Junction, and go left to begin your clockwise tour around Mirror Lake.

Cross a single log footbridge over Mirror Lake Creek, and then emerge from the woods at an open bracken slope above Mirror Lake itself. Pass through a thicket of Sitka alder, ocean spray, and boxwood to get views up to the crags of Tom Dick and Harry Mountain. There are various short spurs that access the lake shore. Washington lilies and penstemon bloom along the path in summer. On the south shore, you'll see a set of steps leading down. Silver fir, Alaska yellow-cedar, and western red-cedar shade a well-trodden flat here. Cross a rocky stream bed, and see where a trail leads down to the shore for the iconic views you see in many photographs. The reflection of Mount Hood is perfect on a still day without a whisper of a breeze. When it's windy, expect a more Impressionist effect. The Shore Trail continues around to a two-plank boardwalk through a spiraea/willow swamp, where you'll get more views of Mount Hood. Keep right at the Mirror Lake-Mirror Lake Shore Trail South Junction, and pass steps leading up to a campsite with a fire grate. Head along through the bear-grass, and pass the access trail to another campsite before descending to the Mirror Lake-Mirror Lake Shore Trail North Junction. Keep left to head back to the trailhead.

If you're looking for a longer hike, turn left when you reach the Mirror Lake-Mirror Lake Shore Trail South Junction, and you'll be on the Tom Dick and Harry Mountain Hike, which enters the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • A Northwest Forest Pass (or America the Beautiful Pass) is required. Pass must be acquired beforehand as they are not sold at the trailhead.
  • Dogs on leash
  • Restrooms, information kiosk at trailhead

Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • The maps below show the pre-2018 trail alignment
  • Green Trails Maps: Government Camp, OR #461
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Zigzag Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood
  • Adventure Maps: Mt. Hood Area

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks

  • The guidebooks below cover the old trail alignment.
  • 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland by Paul Gerald
  • Oregon & Washington: 50 Hikes With Kids by Wendy Gorton
  • Hike It Baby by Shanti Hodges
  • Best Hikes With Kids: Oregon by Bonnie Henderson & Zach Urness
  • Oregon: The Creaky Knees Guide by Seabury Blair, Jr.
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan
  • Portland Hikes by Art Bernstein & Andrew Jackman
  • Best Hikes Near Portland, Oregon by Fred Barstad
  • Hikes & Walks on Mt. Hood by Sonia Buist & Emily Keller
  • Hiking Mount Hood National Forest by Marcia Sinclair
  • Best Short Hikes in Northwest Oregon by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • 105 Virtual Hikes of the Mt. Hood National Forest by Northwest Hiker
  • 70 Hiking Trails: Northern Oregon Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • 62 Hiking Trails: Northern Oregon Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • 100 Oregon Hiking Trails by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Scott Leonard & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Snowshoe Routes - Oregon by Shea Andersen
  • Trail Running: Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • Best Dog Hikes: Oregon edited by Falcon Guides
  • Best Hikes With Dogs: Oregon by Ellen Morris Bishop
  • 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.