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Zigzag Overlook from Hidden Lake Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Revision as of 06:19, 23 February 2007 by Jeffstatt (Talk | contribs)

Mount Hood and the massive Zigzag Canyon from the Zigzag Overlook
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The small, tranquil Hidden Lake
  • Starting Point: Hidden Lake Trailhead
  • Ending Point: Zigzag Overlook
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Distance: 12 miles round-trip
  • Elevation Gain: 2800 feet
  • High Point: 5850 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Seasons: Summer and early Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Crowded when you get to the Timberline Trail



This is a steep, but much quieter trail option to the Zigzag Overlook and alpine regions on the Southwest side of Mount Hood, than the more common - and decidedly more busy approach from Timberline Lodge.

The trail starts out as quite a work-out, through a fairly new-growth forest. For the first few miles there are no views to speak of, but in late spring this area comes alive with rhododendron blooms.

The trail does eventually ease up as it approaches Hidden Lake at the 2.0 mile mark. The lake is small, but tranquil and quite pretty. Stop here for a break on a sunny summer day and admire the dragonflies dancing along the downed trees, and watch for salamanders in the shallow, clear water.

Soon after the lake you meet up with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) (which is also the Timberline Trail on the West side of the mountain). At this point you'll meet up with hikers coming from Timberline Lodge, some 1.3 miles to the East (right). Instead, you'll head left (Eastward), following the Timberline Trail about a mile until you hit the Zigzag Overlook

The Zigzag Overlook provides an awe-inspiring view of the magnificent ZigZag Canyon and a classic, postcard view of the Mount Hood summit, with Zigzag Glacier and Illumination Rock in plain view.

More on Zigzag Glacier from www.mounthoodhistory.com: The Zigzag Glacier originates in the crater between Crater Rock and Hawkins Cliff below Illumination Rock. This was the first Glacier on Mt. Hood to be trod upon by the white man when Joel Palmer climbed the slope in 1845. The Zigzag Glacier today has receded vastly. It drains into the Zigzag River, Lost Creek, and Rushing Water Creek.

The overlook is your turnaround point. Return back the way you came.

However, there are some other options as well. You could do a loop: continuing along the Timberline Trail past the Zigzag Overlook and down into and across Zigzag Canyon. As you climb back out of the canyon, you'll pick up the Paradise Park Trail at mile 7.7. Heading left from this point, follow the Paradise Park Trail 5.2 miles back down to the Paradise Park Trailhead. The return back to your starting point would be another 0.8 miles from there. The total mileage for this trip would be about 13.5 miles round trip with 3500' elevation gain. This would be a very strenuous hike! For more information about this option see the Paradise Park Hike.

There are a couple campsites along the Timberline Trail but no drinking water.


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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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