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Zigzag River Crossing

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

At the Zigzag River crossing (bobcat)
Dog at the creek crossing in Zigzag Canyon along the Timberline Trail (Jerry Adams)


The Timberline Trail (also the Pacific Crest Trail here) crosses the Zigzag River at the base of the wide, steep Zigzag Canyon. The creek here is fed exclusively from the Zigzag Glacier, a few thousand feet of elevation uphill from here. It eventually becomes the Zigzag River, which empties into the Sandy - and then out into the Columbia River near Troutdale, Oregon.

The crossing here is usually not very difficult - especially compared to other crossings along the Timberline Trail. However, it still should be respected, especially in late spring and early summer when glacial runoff is at its peak. There's no bridge, and you have to hop rocks to keep your boots dry. There is a waterfall upstream from the crossing.

You can get drinking water from the stream, but it's a bit silty and is likely to clog your water filter (If you're crossing in late summer or early fall, you may have better luck!). There is better source of drinking water up-trail along the Timberline Trail about 0.1 mile to the south.

This is a popular spot to stop and cool off as you wait your turn to cross with hikers from Timberline Lodge heading to Paradise Park, PCT thru-hikers and Timberline Trail backpackers.

A little way downhill from the creek crossing, there are spots to camp - if you don't mind their proximity to the busy trail.

It's worth noting that Mount Hood climbers using the southern route to the mountain's summit have sometimes been known to get misdirected on their descent in bad weather conditions to the canyon head. The common error has them descending the mountain via this canyon instead of the normal route past the Silcox Hut and down into Timberline Lodge.

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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.

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