West Zigzag Mountain in the Mt. Hood Wilderness


A tough, mid-elevation hike near Mt. Hood was the order of the day in early July. What better way to enjoy the sun and mid-50 degree temperatures than a wilderness trail to an old fire lookout site?

The trail began near the little town of Zigzag. West Zigzag Mountain’s summit (4,500 feet) rises 3,000 feet above the north side of Highway 26. The first 3 1/2 miles switchbacked up the west side of the Mountain, gaining about 2,800 feet.

The lower portion of the trail was lined with salal, big leaf maples, ferns and Oregon grape. At roughly the 3,000-foot level, the vegetation in the lower canopy changed to beargrass, rhododendrons and vine maple.

The next two miles of the trail romped up and down the top of the ridge heading east until reaching the final destination, an old lookout site.

There were some open rock gardens along the way with paintbrush, penstemon and larkspur. The only remains of the fire lookout were the concrete foundations and rusty nails.

The reward of reaching the summit was splendid views of the Zigzag River Valley. A short distance from the lookout site was also a grand overlook of Mt. Hood, seemingly close enough to touch.

All in all the hike was 11 miles in length with roughly 3,700 feet of total elevation gain. It was a very enjoyable trek on a nice summer day, a fine example of a nice conditioning hike.

Spotted Coral Root Orchid

Spotted Coral Root Orchid

West Zigzag Mountain

West Zigzag Mountain

Salal

Salal

View from West Zigzag Mountain

View from West Zigzag Mountain

Inside-out Flower

Inside-out Flower

Mt. Hood behind East Zigzag Mountain

Mt. Hood behind East Zigzag Mountain

Indian Pipe

Indian Pipe (Ghost Plant)

Old fire lookout site

Old fire lookout site

Pipsissewa

Little Pipsissewa

Tiger Lily

Tiger Lily

Western Rhododendrons and Beargrass, a common site above 3,000 feet in early summer

Western Rhododendrons and Beargrass, a common site above 3,000 feet in early summer

Self-heal

Self-heal

Into the Wilderness

Into the Wilderness

 

Categories: Oregon Cascades HikesTags: ,

10 comments

  1. I know that path well, thank you John

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  2. Beautiful and inspiring, as always. Thanks.

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  3. Hi John, I am posting trails on http://www.hikingproject.com and was wondering if I could use some of your Zigzag Mt pics on the site – specifically the old lookout pic. I would of course give you photo credit. Please email me and let me know if that is ok. Thanks!

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    • Yes, you can use the pics. Shoot me a web address when you have it set up.

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      • Thanks John – I wanted to clarify. it looks like you went up Zigzag Mountain Trail off of Lolo Pass (East Mountain Drive).rather than up Enola Hill Road 27 to West Zigzag Mountain Trail. Both will get you to the lookout. Is that right? Thanks – great pics!

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      • You’re correct. As you probably know, Enola Hill Road 27 is a bear. Once was enough for me.
        East Mountain Drive is easy to access and makes a nice access point for the hike.

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