Portland, OR: Burnt Lake

After a catastrophic fire in the 19th century, the forest surrounding Burnt Lake has regrown, offering a pleasant 7.5-mile stroll on Zigzag Mountain's north flank to a pretty lake for dayhiking or camping.
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After a catastrophic fire in the 19th century, the forest surrounding Burnt Lake has regrown, offering a pleasant 7.5-mile stroll on Zigzag Mountain's north flank to a pretty lake for dayhiking or camping.

You will have company on this trail, but the rough, pitted dirt road to the Burnt Lake trailhead helps keep the crowds away. From the trailhead at the end of the road, start up through second-growth hemlock, cedar and fir forest to the registration box and fill out a self-issued permit. From there, the trail gently climbs amid cool, shady forest for the next 2.5 miles, staying north and above Burnt Lake Creek. Notice the burned out carcasses of ancient giant cedar trees, the remains of the 19th century fire that ravaged the area, hence Burnt Lake's namesake.

Shortly before crossing Burnt Lake Creek and a sharp switchback, a spur trail descends to the left to a small campsite on Lost Creek, and an overlook of Lost Creek Falls. The next mile contours the slope of Zigzag Mountain, gradually gaining in elevation and crossing several seasonal creeks. At a break in the forest cover, cast a glance behind for a nice view of Mt. Hood's west side. At the crossing of Burnt Lake's outlet, a large log offers an attractive bridge, but is very unstable; use the rocks to hop across.

Pass camp site #1 on the right and come to a junction with the Burnt Lake Loop. Notice the map sign posted: numbered sites for camping, lettered sites for day use. Start on the lake loop by continuing straight ahead, passing several day use spots. Another fork in the trail offers a 3-mile round trip to the top of East Zigzag; fork left to continue on the lake loop. Lake access is fairly limited to the day use sites, so find an open spot and settle in for lunch, a cool dip, or just to enjoy Mt. Hood's reflection over the still water.

Complete the lake loop, dipping down to the water around a large rock outcrop, then over a series of log bridges near the marshy outlet, back to the junction passed earlier. Head down via the same route. If you complete this hike early enough and want more, head over the the nearby Ramona Falls loop for another 7-mile hike to one of the prettiest waterfalls in Oregon, spilling 120' over an outcropping of stepped, columnar basalt.

Mapped by Eli Boschetto Bosco Mountain Photo

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 11.8

Waypoints

BRN001

Location: 45.372051, -121.822276

Burnt Lake trailhead.

BRN002

Location: 45.371682, -121.821577

Fill out a self-issued wilderness permit at the registration box.

BRN003

Location: 45.356219, -121.793105

Cross Burnt Lake Creek on small rocks.

BRN004

Location: 45.355341, -121.792801

Look for giant hollowed-out cedar trunks, the namesake for "Burnt Lake."

BRN005

Location: 45.354899, -121.79235

The first of many small creek crossings.

BRN006

Location: 45.354137, -121.78962

More charred, hollow cedar trunks.

BRN007

Location: 45.353819, -121.786977

Side trail left to creekside campsite and Lost Creek Falls.

BRN008

Location: 45.353849, -121.78636

Nice single campsite above Lost Creek Falls.

BRN009

Location: 45.354045, -121.786768

End of trail and viewpoint above Lost Creek Falls.

BRN010

Location: 45.352594, -121.791167

Great view of Mt. Hood.

BRN011

Location: 45.352346, -121.792926

Small creek crossing.

BRN012

Location: 45.352173, -121.801407

Burnt Lake outlet crossing; use rocks, as log is unstable.

BRN013

Location: 45.351987, -121.802153

Camp site #1. Continue straight for lake loop and East Zigzag trail access.

BRN014

Location: 45.351712, -121.801912

Day use site A.

BRN015

Location: 45.351319, -121.803335

Day use site B.

BRN016

Location: 45.350979, -121.803778

Fork left for lake loop. Fork right for East Zigzag trail and camp sites 2 and 3.

BRN017

Location: 45.350804, -121.803892

Day use site C.

BRN018

Location: 45.350243, -121.803547

Day use site D.

BRN019

Location: 45.350165, -121.801593

Day use site E.

BRN020

Location: 45.350524, -121.80123

Day use site F (rocks).

BRN021

Location: 45.350877, -121.801008

Group camp site 4; trail to single sites 5 and 6.

BRN022

Location: 45.351248, -121.801268

Group camp site 7.

Burnt Lake Trail

Location: 45.36931, -121.817125

The Burnt Lake trail gently climbs through forest of fir, hemlock and ceder, with a profusion of summer wildflowers.

Columbia Windflower

Location: 45.366386, -121.812651

The Burnt Lake trail is lined with a variety of wildflowers, including Columbia windflower and bunchberry.

Hollows

Location: 45.355802, -121.793286

The site of a catastrophic wildfire in the 19th century, the hollow remains of giant cedars provide the namesake for Burnt Lake.

Lost Creek Falls

Location: 45.354053, -121.786709

A short side trail leads to a small, creekside camp site, and a view of the Lost Creek Falls gorge.

Mt. Hood

Location: 45.352356, -121.7932

A few clear spots along the trail offer spectacular views of Mt. Hood's western flanks.

Burnt Lake

Location: 45.351218, -121.803231

Mt. Hood reflected in the waters of Burnt Lake. Numerous day-use and overnight sites can be found around the lake.

East Zigzag

Location: 45.350072, -121.802212

A 1.5-mile side trail climbs 900' to the top of East Zigzag, for views over Burnt Lake and Mt. Hood.