Updated: Nov 8, 2022
A winter hike to a snow covered lake in Mount Hood National Forest.
Lake Name: Hidden Lake Lake Coordinates: 45.3201, -121.7681 Lake Elevation: 4000′ Access: Trail Distance: 4.38 miles (round trip)
Elevation Range: 3108' to 3908'
Ascent/Descent: +906 ft / -908 ft Trail Type: In and out
Trail: Hidden Lake Trail #779 Note: Snowshoes would be a good idea during the winter. Date hike was done: 1-25-20
The night before we did this hike I had looked at the weather and we were supposed to be getting one fully sunny day! After most of my recent previous hikes have been in the rain and cold, some sunshine was very welcome. My mom volunteered to come on this hike with me so we got up around 8am (kinda sucks on a Saturday) and drove to the trailhead which was 50 minutes from Estacada. It was a beautiful drive. The sun was out in full force and the mountain was fully visible.
We arrived at the trailhead ready to set out on a nice little hike. The trail instead greeted us with 2 feet of snow. Stupid me hadn’t even thought that I should bring snowshoes along just in case. But that didn’t stop us. We decided we’d at least try to get to the lake and if the snow got too deep we’d turn around. The trail immediately goes up hill. I’d read on some trail forums that the hike is pretty much all up hill and tiring (that’s from people hiking it in the summer). My mom and I took turns being in front and making the trail. Stamp one foot in the snow, lift the other foot up high and stamp the next track. It was pretty exhausting.
The further we went up, the deeper the snow got. We followed previous peoples tracks in the snow until we couldn’t easily see them anymore. We only had about 0.6 miles until we were at the lake. I got out my phone and we followed my GPS map to the lake. The last half mile was grueling. We were sinking in the snow above our knees and there were downed sticks and trees that we’d jam our shins on when we sunk in the snow.
We were very excited and relieved when we got to the lake. It looked like a small open meadow because of all the snow on top of it. There was a good 4 1/2 to 5 feet of snow. We were sinking in some places up to our hips. We kept a good distance from the lake cause we didn’t want to fall through. We had a few steps where we hit water. One totally soaked one of my shoes. We were able to take pictures and enjoy the fact that we made it all the way!
Then all we had to do was follow our tracks back. We thought that would be way easier than what we had been doing. It was to some extent. The sun had made the snow softer so it wasn’t as hard as it had been earlier in the day. We made our way back to where we’d possibly gone off trail, making our own path. We passed 2 guys who were snow shoeing. We were very disappointed when we discovered that their tracks had mostly taken away all ours. So we had to pretty much redo all the hard work we’d done.
Going down the switch backs near the start of the trail was quite the adventure. The snow was very loose. We’d take one step and slide 2 feet down the hill. We had to be careful we didn’t slide off the trail and down the steep hill. Going down was definitely easier than going up, but it wasn’t quite as easy as we had hoped.
We made it back to the trailhead and proceeded to make some ramen in the parking lot. We were very hungry after our tiring hike in the snow. It would have been way easier on our bodies if we’d had snow shoes. I plan on just always having my snowshoes in the car whenever I go out just in case I need them.
How to get there
Lake Coordinates: 45.3201, -121.7681
Zigzag Ranger District map location: T3S R8E S12
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