Burnt Lake - East Zigzag

Date: July 25, 2009
Distance: 9.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 2400 ft
Time: 6 hours
Difficulty: Difficult
Weather: Hot and still
Maps: Burnt Lake Trail from NW Hiker
My Route:

  1. Burnt Lake trail to the lake
  2. un-named trail around the lake to find a good swimming spot (we chose area D)
  3. Burnt lake trail up toward zigzag
  4. At junction with zigzag trail, turn right
  5. Stay on this trail up to the summit
  6. Return to the lake
  7. Follow the un-named trail around the lake to see the full circumference.
  8. Return to the trail head on the burnt lake trail
Notes:
We had a ton of fun on at Burnt Lake! It was by far the highlight of the day.

After about 3.5 miles of uphill walking in the heat (and bugs) the lake was looking pretty nice. I'm not much of a swimmer, so I was just going to wade. But the bugs drove me underwater. I did swim a little, but found it impossible (and terrifying) to tread water and swat the flies landing on my face at the same time. So mostly I stayed were I could still reach the bottom.
Swimming with a view. Burnt Lake is small enough to swim all the way across

The swim was an excellent refresher and cool down so we decided to go up to the lookout at East Zigzag mountain - due to the heat we'd considered cutting the day short and calling the lake our final destination.
Looking across Burnt Lake at East Zigzag

We found some nice wildflowers along the ridge. A very mild breeze at the top was enough to cut way down on the flies so we stayed there for a while, eating lunch and admiring the views. We spotted Jefferson and Adams and something that was either St Helens, a cloud, or a figment of my imagination. Of course Hood doesn't need spotting, it's hard to miss!

Mt Hood from the ridge leading to the lookout. Burnt Lake is visible.

Wildlife sitings: 2 snakes, 2 crawdads, 1 squirrel, 1 bazillion biting black flies

In all it was a tough day. A lot of miles, a lot of elevation gain make this trail nothing to take lightly.

Trail Head:

View PDX Day Hiker in a larger map
Porta-potty at the trail head.
The last couple miles are pitted gravel road, not at all suitable for a small car. I was so glad I wasn't driving, I think I would have turned around!
Northwest Forest Pass is required.
What I said about these trails before: Burnt Lake hikes, East Zigzag hikes
Other resources for this and other nearby hikes:
NW Hiker
Portland Hikers
Guidebooks:
Best Hikes With Dogs: Oregon Hike #26
Portland Hikes: The Best Day-Hikes Within 100 Miles of Portland Hike # 18
Afoot & Afield Portland/Vancouver Chapter 5 Trip #25

Have you been on this or a nearby trail? Tell your stories in comments.

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