Zigzag Mountain and this trail traverse the west half of the Mt. Hood Wilderness. The trail begins at the west end of the Road 19 Trail on Forest Road 1819 (East Mountain Drive) and ends at Paradise Park Trail #778
. Zigzag Mountain Trail is a mostly moderately wide singletrack trail with the occasional rocky sections. Trail traffic is typically light to moderate with the most traffic seen from Devil’s Tie Trail #767 to Horseshoe Ridge #774.
Leaving from Forest Road 1819 (1,600’), the trail climbs steadily with 16 steep switchbacks over the first 1.5 miles before reaching the lower ridgeline of Zigzag Mountain (2770'). The trail continues climbing to 4500' at mile 4. Here you start seeing the spectacular views when you break out of the trees onto the rocky outcrops along the ridgeline. The trail switches between the north and south side of the ridge giving you views to Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Rainier on the north side, and Mt. Jefferson, and Three Sisters on the south side. Of course Mt. Hood looms to the east in front of you as you run along the ridgeline. Another 1/2 mile (MP 4.5) and you reach the intersection with West Zigzag Mountain Trail #789
on your right (south).
The trail then continues through the forest to around mile 6, when it breaks out into a series of openings and comes to Horseshoe Ridge Trail #774
on your left (north). This section of trail is part of a popular equestrian loop with Horseshoe and Cast Creek Trail #773
and has lots of ridgeline views in the openings. The trail then drops to just before mile 8, at Devil's Tie Trail #767
on your right (south). Continue another 0.2 miles to the Cast Lake Trail #796
on your left (north). The junction is angling behind you and easy to miss if you are not watching. Another short distance brings you to Cast Creek Trail #773
. From here, you climb to west for 0.7 mile passing the remains of Zigzag East Lookout. At mile 8.9 you descend to a junction on your right with Burnt Lake Trail #772
heading south. In 0.3 miles you pass the second junction with Burnt Lake Trail #772
heading north on your left.
From here the trail continues east climbing, dropping, and then climbing again 2.9 miles to its end at Paradise Park Trail #778
(5,040’). There are few reliable sources for water along this trail, so be sure to carry enough water. There are many trails intersecting this trail that make interesting additions to an out-and-back route or a point-to-point shuttle.
This trail provides you a wide variety over its 3500 foot change in elevation. Lower elevations feature large Douglas fir and western hemlock with oxalis, Oregon grape, salal and rhododendrons. Higher elevations feature mountain hemlock, silver fir, noble fir, and a ground cover of bear grass and kinnikinnick. Rocky openings feature Indian paintbrush, penstemon, lupine, and a variety of other subalpine blooms.