My Winter Training Trail in Zigzag
Updated: Nov 28, 2022
A winter accessible trail in Mt Hood National Forest.
Trail Name: Zigzag Mountain Trail #775 Access: Trail Distance: 1.56 miles (round trip) Elevation Range: 1540′ to 1952′ Ascent/Descent: +454 ft / -455 ft Route Type: In and out Note: We didn’t see anyone else on the trail when we hiked. We hiked up 8 switchback corners. Permits: Free self-issuing wilderness permits at trailhead, required from May 15 – October 15. Date hike was done: 2-9-21
Zigzag Mountain Trail #775 Start point: Trailhead off of FS 1819 (Coordinates: 45.34542, -121.93027) End point: Trail intersection with Paradise Park Trail #778 Whole Trail Distance: 12.7 miles (one-way) Elevation Range: 1544′ to 5078′ Ascent/Descent: +5792′ / -2273′ (would be flipped if starting from the Paradise Park end) Trail Type: Point-to-point
So this post isn’t about hiking the entire length of this trail. It’s about a hike I did on a certain section of it. Eventually I might hike the whole length, but for now it’s just going to be my winter training trail like the Clackamas River Trail #715 was for me before the wildfires happened in September 2020.
I’ll be hiking in and out on the trail for 1.5 miles, or 3 miles, or really whatever distance I feel like doing any given day. The big difference between this trail and the Clackamas River trail is that this is all switchbacks from the beginning of the trail. Whereas the Clackamas River trail was gradual with occasional ups and downs and I’d just train on one end. So I’m sort of stepping up the intensity. Zigzag Mt is a 45 minute drive where as the Clackamas River Trail was only a 15 minute drive from my house.
I discovered Zigzag Mountain Trail when looking for a low trafficked, winter accessible trail, and less than an hour away. I found the trail as I was scanning my map. I’d about given up when I came across the trail. I looked it up and the information online fit what I was wanting. It looked like it was switchbacks through forest for the first few miles on my map which I was fine with. I liked how it was a long point-to-point trail which meant on any given day I could go as far as I want and not run out of trail.
Now that we got all that out of the way, on to my actual hike of the trail. I went out for my first hike of the trail with my mom on a partly sunny, Tuesday afternoon after I’d had an appointment in town. The only people we saw were five people walking up the road and hiking the trail (Road 19 Trail #775B) near the start of the Zigzag Mountain Trail. We didn’t see or hear anyone on our hike. We had the trail totally to ourselves which was exactly what I was wanting.
The trail started climbing immediately with gradual switchbacks climbing through an open forest. The trees were very tall and straight. There were some downed trees across the trail on and off. They were easy to get over and downed trees don’t really ever bother me. I know they bother some people, so that’s why I make note of it.
It was sunny and cold outside. We could hear the river for the first while, then it died out the higher up we climbed. We could hear the highway car noise once we couldn’t hear the river anymore.
I wasn’t feeling great so I didn’t want to do a long hike. I came across some pretty cool things along the trail. There was a little wren that was zigzagging across the trail in front of us for a little bit. It’s such a tiny bird. We went to the 8th switchback corner and turned around at 0.87 miles (one way). We’d only been out for 29 minutes. Usually uphill feels more demanding on my body, but downhill was actually worse than uphill for me today. It had nothing to do with the difficulty of the trail, just part of living with a temperamental chronic illness. We found some cool orange, squishy fungus growing on a fallen tree.
I’m excited to train on this trail and explore more of it throughout the next few months.
How to get there (from Sandy, OR)
Take Hwy 26 E from Sandy, OR for 16.7 miles. Turn left on Lolo Pass Road and continue for 0.4 miles. Turn right on E Mountain Dr (FS 1819) and proceed for 0.7 miles to trailhead. Easiest parking is on a wide shoulder a ways back from the trailhead.
Trailhead Coordinates: 45.34542, -121.93027
Zigzag Ranger District map location (TH start point off FS 1819): T2S R7E S3, 34
The tracker didn’t record right again. It added a weird elevation dip in the middle of my track which didn’t actually happen so the elevation range and ascent/descent is off on the Gaia GPS tracker. I have the correct information listed at the top of the post.
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