“Taking the north part of Burnt Lake Trail is a great day trip into the Mt. Hood Wilderness.
— Kathleen Walker
Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Wildflowers
- A Northwest Forest Pass or other valid trail pass is required at the trailhead.
- All trail users must obtain a self-issued wilderness permit at the trailhead.
- Groups are limited to 12 individuals. Larger groups must separate by one mile AND one hour.
- No fires are allowed at Burnt Lake. Camping and day-use are allowed in designated areas only.
- Snow can linger until June.
The entirety of Burnt Lake Trail #772 stretches 7.72 miles through the iconic Mt. Hood Wilderness from just southeast of Lost Creek Campground, south to Enola Hill off Road 27 along Hwy 26. The first half of the trail is a moderate 3.5-mile one way (7 mile round trip) to the namesake lake. Runners can continue up and over Zigzag Mountain if they stage a second vehicle at the Burnt Lake South Trailhead. Trail conditions and maintenance south of Burnt Lake drops off noticeably. Because of this, it's recommended that most runners stick to the north half.
The first third of a mile of trail follows an overgrown logging road through an old timber sale unit. The next 1.5 miles of trail travels between two tributaries of Lost Creek, the one on your right (south) drains Burnt Lake and the larger stream to your left (north) is Lost Creek. In various drainages, you'll see fire-scarred snags and the occasional old growth cedar that survived the area's fire history.
During the first 2.5 miles, the trail climbs about 1000 feet to a user-made spur that leads down to some falls and a campsite on Lost Creek. Just past there, the Burnt Lake Trail makes a large switchback southwest, towards the lake basin, climbing about 600 feet in the last mile.
The trail skirts the right (northwest) side of the lake with the best Mt. Hood views and photo opportunities towards the far end. At that point, there is a user trail that continues counter clockwise around the southeast side of the lake accessing additional day use and campsites.
Both day users and overnight campers need to stay in designated use sites to minimize use impacts and protect ongoing rehabilitation and restoration areas around the lake shore. Lettered sites (A,B,C etc.) are for day use only. Numbered sites are for day or overnight users.
Runners should take a paper map with them. Options include the Government Camp USGS quad (available for download online), the Mt. Hood Wilderness map, the Mt. Hood National Geographic Map, or something of similar scale. Nearby developed camping options include Lost Creek and McNeil Campgrounds.
Flora & Fauna
The trail highlights second growth Cascade forests with predominantly Douglas fir, western hemlock, and western red cedar along the drainages. Alders and vine maple provide color in fall. Mountain hemlock, noble fir, and silver fir are found up near the lake. Ground cover is sword fern, Oregon grape, salal, oxalis, salmonberry, and maidenhair fern.