Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
885.00 ft (269.75 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
5.00 mi (8.05 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

A visit to famous Timberline Lodge can take you much farther than a visit inside the historic lodge enjoying a cozy cup of hot coco — especially in the summer. Just behind the lodge the mid slopes of Mount Hood give way to a handful of trails exploring the volcano's south side, including one easily accessible trail traversing from Timberline Lodge to Zig Zag Canyon.

When arriving to Timberline, park for free in the lodge parking lot — don't worry there's an overflow area if parking gets crowded, which it usually does. Behind the lodge, follow a maintenance road about a quarter mile before making a left turn at the first trail junction. 

For mountain lovers, there is immediate gratification upon setting out on the trail and fortunately, along the rest of the route as well. Continue along the Pacific Crest Trail, passing under two chairlifts. Prepare to get dusty if you opt to travel this trail in summer or early fall — the trail is compacted with mountain sand and rocks the entire way. In summer, the meadows and mountain region are covered with yellows, reds, oranges and purples, stunning wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest. The first portion of the hike is easy and allows for scenic views of of Oregon Cascades further south and lakes far off in the distance. Note the gradual descent on the way there, as this will leave you with a moderate hike back to the trailhead. The hike gains roughly 885 feet on the return. 

Continue straight on the Pacific Crest Trail until you enter the Mount Hood Wilderness area where a free wilderness permit is required. From here, the trail meanders through dense old growth, passing through alpine and subalpine meadows. This trail is primarily used for hiking, though offshoots of this trail provide great areas for backpacking. For example, just past the wilderness permit box there will be a junction marked "Hidden Lake Trail (No. 779)," which features a campsite below the trail just before the junction. Keep in mind, there is no drinking water. 

Before reaching the canyon, hikers will descend into a deep, dry gully, before climbing out and soon approaching Zig Zag Overlook at the edge of the canyon. Enjoy the expansive overlook that provides scenic views of Mt. Hood and the Zig Zag Canyon and River sweeping through the valley below. The overlook is your turn around point. Once you've had your fill retrace your steps back to Timberline Lodge and the trailhead.

 

 

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Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

Not Required

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Unique landscape. Family friendly. No fee. Wildflowers.

Cons

Crowded. Exposed to sun and weather.

Trailhead Elevation

5,359.00 ft (1,633.42 m)

Highest point

6,132.00 ft (1,869.03 m)

Features

Family friendly
Flushing toilets
Potable water
Shelters
Historically significant
Old-growth forest
Wildflowers
Backcountry camping

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

Yes

Permit self-issue on site

Yes

Location

Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Mt. Hood + Clackamas River Area, Oregon
Oregon, Mt. Hood + Clackamas River Area
Mt. Hood + Clackamas River Area, Oregon

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