With spectacular waterfalls and great views of Mt. Hood, this 18.7-mile out-and-back is often ranked as a PCT top 10. You'll go down and up three times into riverbeds—the Zigzag, the Sandy, and the Muddy Fork.
Start from Timberline Lodge and head 2.8 miles to the Zigzag River, then switchback 1.8 miles up the canyon to Paradise Park Shelter. Continue 2.2 miles to the PCT horse trail, then descend 3 miles to Scott Camp, near a log crossing of the Sandy River. From there, climb 3.4 miles to the first tributary of Muddy Fork, then quickly ford four more tributaries before climbing northwest to a junction with the Oregon Skyline Trail. Continue 2.8 miles to Lolo Pass at FR 18.
Caution: This hike has many river crossings; check on water levels before you go.
Info: Mt. Hood NF: (503) 622-3191; www.fs.fed.us/r6/mthood. Pacific Crest Trail Assn.: (916) 349-2109; www.pcta.org
-Hike provided by George and Patricia Semb, authors of Day Hikes on the Pacific Crest Trail (Wilderness Press)
- Distance: 30.1
Location: 45.3307436, -121.7113817