Directions: Take Highway 26 just past Government Camp and take a left signed for Timberline Lodge. Follow this road all the way up to the lodge and park in the overflow area.
This hike starts behind Timberline Lodge, you will need to walk up towards the lodge and take a paved path the winds up the side of the lodge. Soon you will see a sign to your left marked for Timberline Trail no. 600 and Pacific Crest Trail no. 2000. Take this trail and follow behind the lodge and under ski lifts. For the first mile the trail gradually heads downhill on a maintained dirt path that’s lined with lupine. It’s very exposed with little shade and the trail can be quite dusty. You will have great close-up views of Mt. Hood to your right and views of Mt. Jefferson and The Three Sisters to your left.
You will soon come to a wilderness permit station that you need to stop at to fill out a tag that you carry on your backpack. Not doing so could result in a fine. Continue on past the permit station and you will soon come to Little Zigzag Canyon, this is your halfway point. The trail here starts to become a loose almost sandy gravel that can cause you to lose your footing in some areas. The trail heads more steeply downhill as you hike down into the canyon. You will need to cross some water here but it’s shallow and there are plenty of rocks to hop across without getting wet.
After making your way across and out of the canyon, you will head back downhill again as you wind through a more heavily forested area. The trail will start opening up as you get closer and start passing a few meadows. You will also get back into the loose sandy gravel as you start heading into a more exposed area that takes you up to the canyon. The trail drops you off right at the lip of Zigzag Canyon with an amazing view of Mt. Hood. You will also be able to see Mississippi Head (large rock formation in the canyon) and the Zigzag River.
This is an out and back trail, so head back the way you came.
Distance: 4.5 miles
Elevation: 500 feet
Pet Friendly: Yes
Good For: We’re going to say all ages but be aware that the elevation loss and gain is steady and there are steep cliffs at the canyon overlook.
Bathrooms: Yes in the lodge.
Parking Fee: None
Seasons: Early summer to late fall.
Overall: This is a great hike! The views are amazing and the wildflowers are gorgeous.