Hey everyone! Thanks for welcoming me to the board. I just moved here from Minneapolis a few weeks ago and have used this site a few times for hikes and guides. I figured I should contribute since I have been using it!
This morning, I got up and left Portland for Zig Zag ranger station at about 630, I arrived at the trailhead at 730 and was the only car there. There are still posters warning of Cougars and Black Bears, but during my hike, I saw no tracks but just a heads up.
If you have never hiked this trail before, the first two miles are pretty demanding. You hike up steep switchbacks at the start. You finish the first switchback, get to a flat spot for a few hundred yards then back into another steep switchback. After you complete the switchback portion of the trail(roughly 2.0mi) you reach the "rock pile". I thought that I had a photo of this, but I guess not. After the rock pile, it didn't feel too much further to the Ridge crest. You wind down and around some rocky outcroppings before a couple more steep sections. After the last steep sections, you will reach the ridge crest. This is a super awesome spot. You get amazing views and it was a great spot to sit and relax.
After the ridge crest, you head down back into the forest. After the pile, you enter a very pleasant part of the hike. It is a very easy and flat section that is completely shaded from the forest. The trail is wide and I found it to be very tranquil. Overall, this was one of my favorite parts of the hike. In a couple of sections, the trees are thinner and you can see Mt. Hood. Not far from where I took the photo of hood, the trail breaks off to the left. To the right is the Helispot viewpoint. I walked up this and wasn't very impressed. Maybe I was just tired, but it was just okay.
After the helispot, go back down the hill and follow the trail to the left. You will walk on a narrow trail with steep sides on both uphill and downhill. There are some really cool rocks protruding out to the right. This was by far the roughest section of the trail. There were a couple of trees down including one that was blocking a whole section of the path. It was cool though because you could walk across the log to the trail on the other side.
You stay on the trail and climb a couple more steep sections(shorter this time) and before you know it, you see the trail sign for Great Pyramid. You follow the path to the right of the sign and after some scrambling, you get some fantastic views from the Pyramid. I was lucky enough to be able to see St. Helens just barely from where I was sitting. Just lookout for the ants, there were a ton of them and they bite!
I ate lunch from the Pyramid and headed back down. I only saw one person on my way back so even though it was a weekday, this trail is definitely not super popular which is nice! The trail overall was in great shape and I really enjoyed it. It was a TOUGH hike though, I am in okay shape and found myself getting winded after the first section. I tried to keep a solid pace and not counting breaks and lunch I finished the there and back in roughly 5 hours. I would like to go back and hike all the way to Devil's Peak and make it an overnight trip.
Random thought: If you are looking for a shorter hike or not comfortable scrambling a more exposed area, I don't think the Pyramid is worth it. The Pyramid was my goal today and I love scrambling but if you are not comfortable being next to a more exposed area, you won't be able to see much with the vegetation.
This forum is used to share your experiences out on the trails.
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Thanks for the report. For being just off Highway 26, that is an amazingly unpeopled hike.
Thanks for the report! We did that hike in early October last year and it kicked our butts! We only went as far as the junction for the helispot before turning around.
I suspect that super steep first section keeps many folks away.
Good job to the OP for staying the course and making it to the Pyramid. Try this hike in May-June and you'll probably be treated to a spectacular rhododendron display.
You can also access Devil's Peak from the Salmon River trail, so there are lots of interesting loop backpacking possibilities. Check the Fieldguide for more info.