Fall Colors · Lake
If trailhead parking lot is full, find another trail to run. Do not park along the highway.
Mirror Lake is a wonderful run when there are not hoards of fellow runners. The destination provides a great reflection shot of Mt. Hood in the namesake glacial cirque Mirror Lake. While it has a bit of elevation gain, most folks, including kids, can make the gradual 700 foot climb to the lake and follow the loop trail around the lake. For a longer route, check out the trail that includes Tom, Dick and Harry mountain.
Be aware that the Mirror Lake Trailhead was relocated in late 2018. It is about 200 feet higher along Highway 26, so the first mile in is less steep than it was, but the relocation added 1.4 miles to the trip.
Need to Know
The relocated trailhead on the west end of Mt. Hood Skibowl's Ski Area and Summer Adventure Park means that in the summertime, when the trailhead parking fills, parking may overflow into Skibowl's lot, which means the trail and lake could be way overcrowded. Find another trail if this is the case. In winter, the opposite can happen. Skibowl users arrive early for downhill skiing, and stay all day. So the new parking lot, built to accommodate Mirror Lake snowshoers, will be full of downhill skiers from Skibowl. Early birds on snowshoes get the worm and the parking spot! Parking along highway will get you towed. Mirror Lake Trail is not marked with blue diamonds, like other snow trails. Stay on trail and take a map.
A trail park pass is required May 15-Oct. 1. A sno-park permit is required Nov 1-April 30. Mirror Lake can be snowed in till mid June. Call Zigzag RD at 503-622-3191 for conditions.
This trail is not recommended for runners because of the crowds.
Mirror Lake Trail and the trailhead were relocated in 2018. The trailhead is now at the west end of the Mt. Hood Skibowl Ski Area. The trails is about 1.4 miles longer round-trip than it was before. The route around the lake is 4.5 miles round-trip. The new plaza has a restroom and interpretive signs. The first 1000 feet of the trail is paved and barrier-free as it switchbacks down to a platform along Camp Creek.
From that point, the trail narrows and is dirt. Ten bridges were added to the new trail. After crossing Camp Creek, there are a series of six more bridges as the trail heads west, through thick forests of western red cedar, Douglas fir, and hemlock, before crossing a powerline corridor. At that point, the trail drops slightly to the northwest, switchbacks, and ties into the old Mirror Lake Trail.
The trail heads south, crossing the powerline again, before climbing two switchbacks and arriving at the lake. The most scenic loop around the lake is to stay to the right at the first intersection. Continue aroung the west side of the lake, accessing the shoreline on the stairs and rock access points. The best views are at the southwest corner of the lake, but these are also the wettest sections, so please stay on trail and boardwalk. On clear, still days, you can get the namesake picture of Mt. Hood to the northeast. Skirt the spirea shrubs on the east side of the lake, before crossing the bridge over the lake's outlet creek and completing the loop around the lake and then head back to the car.
Flora & Fauna
The trail starts near the transition between western hemlock and mountain hemlock, with plenty of Douglas fir, and western red cedar in the moister areas. Rhododendrons, bear grass, and spirea (around the lake) are most common. Indian paint brush, Pacific dogwood, avalanche lily, lupine, trillium, and bunchberry are also wildflowers that can be found on the trail.
History & Background
Mirror Lake is aptly named for Mt. Hood's reflection in the lake. The looming peak above the lake is called Tom, Dick and Harry Mountain and is named for its three distinct peaks along the summit, forming the cirque that is now part of the Mount Hood Skibowl ski resort. The highest peak has an elevation of 5,070 feet (1,545 m). The name was in use as early as 1897, according to Elijah "Lige" Coalman, the namesake of Coalman Glacier. The mountain has also been called "Tom Dick Mountain" in the past, although the Board on Geographic Names officially decided in favor of including "Harry" in 1969 making it a play on phrase "Tom, Dick, and Harry."
Shared By: Kathleen Walker