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Trillium Lake Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Mt.Hood behind Trillium Lake (bobcat)
Marsh cinquefoil (Comarum palustre), Trillium Lake (bobcat)
Yellow water-lily (Nuphar polysepalum), Trillium Lake (bobcat)
Boardwalk through skunk-cabbage swamp, Trillium Lake (bobcat)
The loop around Trillium Lake (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Trillium Lake TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Pond Lily Inlet
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 1.9 miles
  • Elevation gain: 10 feet
  • High Point: 3,610 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: Summer into Fall
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes



Little Trillium Lake, with Mount Hood as an incredible backdrop, is one of the more popular day-use and camping destinations in the Mt. Hood National Forest. The roads around the lake are groomed for cross-country skiers in the winter. The lake itself is not natural: the boggy meadows here were submerged by a dam built across Mud Creek in 1960. The Trillium Lake Trail circles the lake and affords a visit, via a series of boardwalks, to its less-trafficked west shore, where a variety of wetland wildflowers can be observed in the summer. Note that this is one of the concessionaire sites (California Land Management) in the Mt. Hood National Forest, and you will have to pay a fee to park. Northwest Forest Passes are not valid.

From the day-use parking area, a paved trail leads to the shore from below the picnic shelter. Go left along the shore. The picnic area is shaded by mountain hemlock, western red-cedar, western hemlock, and silver fir. Cross a footbridge and then take boardwalk. This leads to the dam wall. A path leads along the shore below the dusty road. On any fair weather day in the summer, you will not have the place to yourself unless you do this walk early in the morning: other day-users will include paddle boarders, windsurfers, canoeists, boaters, inner tubers, kayakers, and swimmers. Mallards sun themselves on the dam rocks. The view of Mount Hood is a picture postcard scene. After the causeway, the trail leads right below the road into a willow thicket. It’s marked Trillium Lake Trail #761. Take a boardwalk into cedar woods with Engelmann spruce, silver fir, and mountain hemlock. Spurs lead right to the boggy shores. Hike another boardwalk and then pass through a parsnip, mertensia, thimbleberry opening. The path is lined with blooming subalpine daisies in mid-summer. A spur right leads to the lake. The trail winds through spruce-dominated woods and then reaches another boardwalk through willows, alders and then a cotton-grass meadow. Mount Hood peeks above the trees. Head into mountain hemlock/spruce woods with several little skunk-cabbage bottoms and huckleberry patches. A boardwalk crosses a sedge marsh. At a junction, a boardwalk spur leads right to a sedge swamp. Return to the trail in the woods and keep right at a junction. Another boardwalk winds through a cedar bottom. The human population increases as you near the campground. Spurs lead left to the campground as you keep along the lakeshore. Pass by Pond Lily Inlet with its yellow water lilies. Newts drift lazily in the still waters. Walk past an amphitheater and reach the campground boat launch. Go 30 yards to the left and pick up the trail again. There’s yet another boardwalk and then you reach the day-use boat launch (no motor boats allowed). At a junction, turn right on a paved trail to a floating dock that juts out into the lake. After this, go left up past the picnic shelter to day-use parking.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • $5 day-use concessionaire fee (Northwest Forest Pass invalid): May 15th - October 1st


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Mt Hood, OR #462 (Trail not shown)
  • Adventure Maps: Mt. Hood Area
  • Geo-Graphics: Mount Hood Wilderness Map
  • 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 Wilderness
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • Oregon's Best Wildflower Hikes: Northwest Region by George Wuerthner
  • 105 Virtual Hikes of the Mt. Hood National Forest by Northwest Hiker
  • 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland by Paul Gerald
  • Oregon: The Creaky Knees Guide by Seabury Blair, Jr.
  • Trips & Trails: Oregon by William L. Sullivan
  • Snowshoe Routes - Oregon by Shea Andersen
  • The Dog Lover's Companion to Oregon by Val Mallinson

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.