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East Zigzag Mountain Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Revision as of 03:11, 10 September 2019 by Bobcat (Talk | contribs)

Mount Hood with East Zigzag Mountain (a nice destination) in the foreground (Sparklehorse)
Burnt Lake from the Burnt Lake Trail northwest of the lake (Jerry Adams)
Burnt Lake Trail to East Zigzag Mountain (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: North Burnt Lake TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: East Zigzag Mountain
  • Other featured landmarks: Burnt Lake
  • Trail log: Trail Log
  • Distance: 9.4 miles round trip
  • Elevation gain: 2300 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Seasons: July - November
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: Busy during summer and weekends, especially the first part to Burnt Lake


Hike Description

This hike takes you up to the Zigzag Ridge and East Zigzag Mountain, a rocky ridge with great views all around, especially of Mount Hood. If you get too tired, you can stop at Burnt Lake, a picturesque mountain lake with a nice view of Mount Hood. Most of the trail is through forest with occasional views.

There are three hikes to East Zigzag Mountain: East Zigzag from Lost Creek Hike is 8 miles round trip and 2000' elevation gain. East Zigzag from Devil Canyon Hike is the same distance, 330' less elevation gain, but the approach road at the trailhead is more difficult and the last mile may be impassable. Cast Creek Hike is 12.4 miles round trip and 2970' elevation, but the approach road at the trailhead is better. You could also get to East Zigzag from extensions of the West Zigzag Hike and the Horseshoe Ridge Hike.

Start from the North Burnt Lake Trailhead. Take the Burnt Lake Trail (#772) which is the only trail out of the trailhead. The trail goes gradually up for the first 2 miles along Lost Creek and the outlet creek from Burnt Lake. At a bend in the trail, you can make a short diversion to the top of Lost Creek Falls. Then the trail goes steeply up to Burnt Lake at mile 3.3 (4100' elevation).

Burnt Lake would make a good destination for an easy hike. There is a trail around the lake (difficult to follow on the opposite side). The lake has fishing. There are 7 designated campsites, which can be full on summer weekends.

Continuing on the trail, at mile 3.6 is a nice drinking water stream which is reliable year-round.

At mile 4.2 (4600') the Burnt Lake Trail dead-ends at the Zigzag Ridge and the Zigzag Mountain Trail (#775). Make sure and remember where you came from for the return trip, the turn would be easy to miss.

There is a spot to camp, left (east) on the Zigzag Mountain Trail in about 0.1 miles. It's not much more than a flat area next to the trail, but there are some views, and the crowds really thin out if you go this direction.

Go right on the Zigzag Mountain Trail. After a while the trail enters an open meadow area with great views towards Mount Hood. At mile 4.5 (4750') is the junction with the Burnt Lake Trail that goes down to the South Burnt Lake Trailhead (see East Zigzag from Devil Canyon Hike).

Continue up the Zigzag Mountain Trail, up the east slope of East Zigzag Mountain to the summit at mile 4.7 (4970'). The best views are along the last stretch of trail before the top since the rocky summit has limited views due to the trees. Look for beautiful bear grass displays in June, particularly on the east slope. There is a possible camp spot just to the west where there used to be a fire lookout.

To finish the hike, go back to the trailhead the way you came.

If this hike isn't long enough for you try hiking to Paradise Park.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Northwest Forest Pass (or America the Beautiful Pass) required. Pass must be acquired beforehand as they are not sold at the trailhead.

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 105 Virtual Hikes of the Mt. Hood National Forest by Northwest Hiker

More Links


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.