October 2011 Burnt Lake and E. Zigzag Mountain Hike

Author near Dry Creek Falls

The Hike

Waterfalls, autumn leaves, one of the prettiest lakes in the Mt. Hood area and a mountain to climb – – – my Friday hike had it all, and somewhat good weather to boot. The Trailhead is relatively easy to reach on the west side of Mt. Hood at the 2,700-foot level. After walking through a stile I followed the well-maintained Trail along Burnt Creek for several miles before crossing the Creek. I began to spot old burnt-out cedars left as reminders of a severe forest fire in the 1800s. One of the cedars was 12 feet across at the base. (A “difficult” trivia question is: Where did Burnt Lake get its name from?)

In the next one-half mile I came to Lost Creek Falls, a series of four waterfalls in a small canyon. By that time it had begun to warm up a bit. Now the work began. The Trail gained 700 feet in the next mile as it ascended the headwall below the Lake. Upon reaching Burnt Lake I took off the pack and enjoyed the setting for awhile. Mt. Hood dominated the scenery behind the Lake. When the wind died down, the Mountain’s reflection was easily seen in the water. It was truly a beautiful setting. But, I had a 5,000-foot summit to reach.

The next mile of the Trail passed another small lake before reaching the Zigzag Mountain Trail. The Trail steeply turned uphill, reaching the summit of E. Zigzag Mountain in one-half mile with 400 feet of elevation gain. The views were extraordinary in all directions with Mt Hood close enough to touch. The temperatures were in the high 40°s with a light breeze, and the sun broke through from time to time. What a beautiful place to be and only 44 airmiles from home.

All in all the hike was 10.3 miles in length with 2,600 feet of elevation gain. A winner!


Dragonfly (Darner Family) near Burnt Lake

Reid Glacier on Mt. Hood with Lenticular Cloud above

Huckleberry in Autumn Splendor

Burnt Lake

Approach Trial to Summit of E. Zigzag Mountain

Reflections in Burnt Lake

Categories: Oregon Cascades HikesTags: , , , , ,


  1. That is a cool picture of Mt. Hood, John!

  2. The dragonfly photo is pretty epic.

  3. Gorgeous pictures. I used to live in Portland and have hiked the zig zag trail. I just wrote a post about dragonflies and thought I’d check out what others are saying on this topic…so that’s how I found you. Fantastic picture of the dragonfly.

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