As the snow melts on the slopes of Wy'east in late summer, many worthy subalpine hiking trails open for exploration, but the hike to Paradise Park is one adventure everyone should prioritize. Simply put, Paradise Park boasts the most plush, lively and abundant wildflower meadows in Oregon's Cascades.
One of the perks of the hike is that it begins and ends at Timberline Lodge, so you can order a fresh salad or a cold beer to sustain you for the 6 miles in on the dusty trail. The trail passes through groves of mountain hemlock and patches of Sitka mountain ash before reaching Zig Zag Canyon. Here, casual hikers may choose to enjoy the view and turn back after seeing the Zig Zag chasm. Indeed, it appears as intimidating as it is beautiful. To cross this canyon you'll drop roughly 1,000 feet in elevation and regain 1,200 feet, but the effort makes the destination that much more rewarding. Once you arrive you'll return through meadows full of lupine, various species of paintbrush, western pasque flower, Cascade aster, arrowleaf groundsel and stream banks lined with Lewis's and common western monkeyflower. You'll also find numerous backcountry campsites to call home. Enjoy!