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Paradise Park Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Dusting of summer snow above the lush meadows of Paradise Park (Tom Kloster)
View of the lower reaches of the Zigzag Canyon from the Paradise Park Trail (bobcat)
Small-flowered paintbrush and lupine at Paradise Park (bobcat)
"Towhead babies" - Western pasqueflower seed heads (bobcat)
The route to Paradise Park using the Paradise Park Trail (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Paradise Park TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • Ending Point: Paradise Park
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: Lollipop loop
  • Distance: 13.9 miles
  • Elevation gain: 3050 feet
  • High Point: 5840 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Seasons: Summer into early Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: Paradise Park is crowded on summer weekends



NOTE: The Paradise Park Trail, as of Summer 2018, is covered by downed trees below the junction with the Zigzag Mountain Trail. The blowdown has not been cleared, and the trail is very difficult to find.

This hike takes you up to and around Paradise Park, one of the most extensive and beautiful alpine areas on Mount Hood. The Paradise Park from Timberline Lodge Hike describes an easier way to get there - 10 miles round trip and 2000 feet elevation gain to the same spot as this hike. However, if you want to get a good impression of the different layers of climate/vegetation zones on the west slope of Mount Hood, this lollipop loop hike takes you from typical lowland woodland through the montane forest zone and into 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. While Paradise Park itself is a popular destination, this hike's long access and egress using the forested lower slopes will most likely be quite unpeopled.

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 route 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. Turn right here and head down to the Paradise Park Trailhead, about five miles down the slope.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Self-issued wilderness permit


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Paradise Park Trail #778 (USFS)
  • Paradise Park Loop Trail #757 (USFS)
  • Timberline Trail #600 (USFS)
  • Green Trails Maps: Government Camp, OR #461 and Mt Hood, OR #462
  • Adventure Maps: Mt. Hood Area
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Zigzag Ranger District
  • Discover Your Northwest: Mt. Hood National Forest North: Trail Map & Hiking Guide
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood Wilderness

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Best Hikes Near Portland by Fred Barstad
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • 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

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.