This is an amazing hike through Mt. Hood National Forest, passing by an incredible waterfall, and leading you to a beautiful lake.

After getting your back country permit from a park ranger, you can park your car and head up zig zag mountain. There's a tiny 'parking lot' (lot of dirt) where you park that's right by the trailhead.

The hike up to the campsites is roughly 4 miles, and it is all uphill. Not only are you surrounded by the tall trees in this national forest, but you cross over some beautiful creeks, and pass by a few waterfalls, making this hike unforgettable. Once you reach the campground, it is hard to tell where the actual campsites are. You have to look closely for site numbers, and patches of land. If you don't have a view of the lake from your campsite, know that the lake is not far, as the campsites are all surrounding the lake. Burnt Lake has a beautiful view of Mt. Hood, and the mountain reflects into the lake crystal clear. This is a wonderful opportunity to snap some photos, I would recommend at sunrise or sunset to ensure some amazing lighting. 

From your campsite, you can hike another 3 miles up to the summit of zig zag mountain, which provides even more spectacular views of Mt. Hood, as well as fields of wildflowers. Once you reach the rocky summit, there are a few shaded areas under the trees where you can relax and enjoy the breathtaking views.

We were warned that there are bears in the area, even though we didn't see any, it is important to be cautious of them! 

Pack List

  • Back Country Permit
  • Water
  • Food
  • Tent
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Backpack
  • Hiking Boots
  • Camera
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RT Distance 14 Miles
Activities Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Dog Friendly
Forest
Lake
Waterfall
Wildflowers

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Absolutely Magic, Unfortunately Everyone Else Knows Too

My partner and I hiked up late morning on a Friday last August (2017) and stayed for 2 nights. We set up camp in one of the campsites on the trail that continues to zig zag mountain. There were about a million mosquitos out and about but it was a lovely experience. Each day we staked out the best day use site. We hung a hammock and read and napped. And when friends came, we played on a log in the lake. Dozens of people and dogs came by on the weekend to sit at the log at the day use site and see the lake. On Sunday before heading out altogether, we got up and hiked to zig zag mountain which was not busy which was a nice change.

This was such a beautiful trail. We hiked up in the evening and set up camp as the sun was setting. It was calm and we only saw one other camper and that was when we had tried to continue up Zig Zag Mountain- the trail splits once and you can go towards Mt Hood or away and we decided to go towards it but were unsure of how long to go to see the second view point. At any rate - we stopped and made coffee. There were tons swarming us but other than that I LOVED this. If you can come early or later to avoid the crowds!

This was such a beautiful trail. We hiked up in the evening and set up camp as the sun was setting. It was calm and we only saw one other camper and that was when we had tried to continue up Zig Zag Mountain- the trail splits once and you can go towards Mt Hood or away and we decided to go towards it but were unsure of how long to go to see the second view point. At any rate - we stopped and made coffee. There were tons swarming us but other than that I LOVED this. If you can come early or later to avoid the crowds!


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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