On the last weekend of July I returned to the Paradise Park Trailhead at the base of Mt. Hood, several miles east of the small town of Rhododendron.
Paradise Park is a series of large alpine meadows on the west shoulder of Mt. Hood around 6,000 feet in elevation. It’s one of the Pacific Northwest’s most popular hiking destinations in late July and August when the alpine meadows are covered with wildflowers.
Some of you may remember that on the first day of July, I attempted to hike the very same trail but was turned back about two miles from Paradise Park due to fallen trees.
On this sunny morning the trail began slowly climbing the north ridge of the Zigzag River Canyon into the Mt. Hood Wilderness. For the first four miles the trail stayed under the canopy of an old-growth forest, mainly mountain hemlock.
To my great surprise, the US Forest Service had still not cleared the trail. I made it about one-third mile more than last time, but the trail was virtually impassable from there on.
I sadly turned back to the trailhead. I’m now beginning to believe the US Forest Service is going to abandon the trail, one of many over the years.
John: It’s been a tough year for the trails. Thanks for this report. Did you hike from Timberline Lodge or from Rhododendron, near Little Zigzag Falls?
I hiked from the lower trailhead near Little Zigzag Falls. The good news is the trail from Timberline looks in good shape. I may do that in a couple of weeks and come back over Mississippi Head, one of my favorites.
Severe cuts to budgets are partly to blame but also the Forest Svc seems to be determined to keep the public out of public lands. Not good stewards.
My fellow Mazamas and other volunteers do a yeoman job of augmenting the Forest Service with these tough-to-maintain trails, but there is only so much time in the day.
I wish there was a better marriage of the desire for wilderness areas, and the practical aspects of maintaining access.