Sunday, August 4, 2013

Burnt Lake to East Zig Zag

WARNING!!  This post has lots of Mt. Hood photos!

If you're okay with that, then read on......

Obligatory trail sign photo

When my friend John sent out his weekly hiking invitation, the destination was Burnt Lake and East Zig Zag Mountain.  A lovely little trail on Mt. Hood's west side, it had been a couple years since I'd been there.  The flowers on East Zig Zag are usually good this time of year, and Burnt Lake is known for it's picture-perfect reflections of Mt. Hood.  Okay John, count me in!

Beautiful Burnt Lake

Sunday morning found Bear and I at the trailhead with John and four of his friends.  Although the weatherman promised a hot day, we began in the cool shade of thick woods.  Our trail followed the top of a bank, with Burnt Lake Creek gurgling down below.  After two miles through this lovely forest, the trail made a turn by a small waterfall and climbed for another mile.  We passed huge Douglas Fir and Cedar trees, and lots of old burned-out stumps from an ancient fire (that gave Burnt Lake its name).

Perfect Mt. Hood reflection on Burnt Lake

Then our group arrived at the lake.  Oh, Burnt lake is such a lovely place!  Circled by huckleberry bushes and tall Douglas Firs, it makes a peaceful lunch or camping spot.

The paparazzi

But the best thing about Burnt Lake is its amazing view of Mt. Hood.  John led his hiking troupe around to the west end of the lake to the perfect vantage point.

One more reflection shot!

The calm morning waters gave a perfect reflection of Mt. Hood.  Super-duper photo op!

Heading up the steep trail to East Zig Zag Mountain

After gazing across the lake upon our favorite mountain, and enjoying a quick snack, it was time to shoulder our backpacks for the climb up to East Zig Zag Mountain.  Not only did this trail climb quite steeply to our destination, parts of it also followed an exposed ridgeline.  No shade anymore!  And we quickly found out the midday sun was getting hot.

Burnt Lake, far below

But - oh the views!  From a saddle just below East Zig Zag's summit was a jaw-dropping view of Mt. Hood with tiny Burnt Lake at its base.  Wow, we really did do some climbing.

Still a few tiger lilies

The final climb to East Zig Zag was hot.  Not so fun for poor Bear.  His tongue was hanging out as far as it would go, and he was panting heavily.  But after lots of sweat and effort my dog and I arrived on the rocky summit.

Lunch with a view

It was a glorious place for lunch!  Mt. Hood was front and center.  Some flowers were blooming (although not as many as usual - the bloom was early this year).  And far away in the distance we could glimpse Mt. Jefferson to the south, and Mt. Adams and St. Helens to the north.

These purple flowers formed a circular pattern

I gave Bear a big drink of water and some dog food, and scarfed down my own sandwich (with some assistance from my pup).  Then it was time to pick up that camera and capture some scenery!

Bear rests in the shade

Bear was content to wait for me in the shade.

Ridgeline panorama

Our lunch spot was peaceful and idyllic.  Flowers swayed in the breeze.  A few butterflies flitted around (but never landed long enough for a photo).  Mt. Hood and it's glaciers glittered in the sun.  And best of all, we had the summit to ourselves the entire time.

Me, the guys, and Mt. Hood

But all good lunches must come to and end, and when other hiking parties started to arrive, we knew it was time to go. 

Heading back down the trail

After sweating up to the summit, it was great to have an easy downhill cruise back to Burnt Lake.  But I made the guys stop at the saddle for some group photos.  Mt. Hood made the perfect backdrop.

One last glimpse of the mountain

Returning to the lake, we found it full of people.  Many of them were splashing in the water.  The lake surface was chopped up from the swimmers, so no reflection photos this time (good thing I got them in the morning before the place got busy).  Being very hot and sweaty by then, jumping in that cool water looked like a great idea.

Lovely monkeyflowers

But my party was ready to get back, so after letting Bear have a good drink, we headed for the trailhead.  We didn't get very far before John and I got distracted by some pretty yellow monkey flowers blooming near a spring.

Then we got distracted by a huge burned-out old tree.  Wonderful photo op!  (And John even agreed to be my model).

John checks out a huge burned-out tree

By the time we reached the final two mile portion of the trail, everyone was hot and tired, and just wanted to be done.  Bear, instead of bounding up and down the trail, marched slowly between John and I.  Virginia, one of our hiking party, said that this last bit of trail seemed to be a victim of the "trail stretchers" - when a trail that you galloped over in the morning, seems to go on forever on your return trip.

That was certainly the case.  Those were the longest two miles I think I have ever hiked.  Trying hard not to ask John (who had a gps) how much further, a half mile from the parking area, I finally broke down and uttered the words "Are we there yet?"

Afternoon light on the leaves

Finally, our vehicles came into view.  Everyone agreed to head to the local convenience store for some ice-cold drinks.  A good reward after a hot hike.

But for me, the wonderful views, good workout, and great companionship were the better reward.

Stats for the day:  9.6 miles, 2400 feet elevation gain.

Linking to:  Tuesday Muse and Sweet Shot Tuesday.


  1. Loved the post.. wonderful documentation! Perfect reflections, great candids, and I loved that burned-out tree. I never tire of seeing our beautiful mountains. Thanks for taking us along!

  2. You always hike the most amazing places and capture photographs that are breathtaking

  3. Now there's one I'm filing back in my mind as a must-do one of these days. Looks incredible! I love the way Bear is always looking for you or waiting for you. I don't think he's forgotten being lost!!

  4. What a picture perfect day! Thanks for taking us along with you. I really love the shots of Mt. Hood's reflection on Burnt Lake. So gorgeous!

  5. Wow Linda, what a gorgous place, and your photos are terrific!

  6. They are stunning photos. That scenery is just breathtakingly unreal!

  7. Oh, you make me want to visit Oregon. What a great hike and beautiful views. As always, I am glad Bear stayed close!

  8. Awesome photos Linda, and you know me, I am always a sucker for a lot of Mt Hood shots, so this was right up my alley ;)

  9. Why in the world would someone NOT be okay with these fabulous shots of Mt Hood?! Looks like a wonderful place to feed the muse. Love them all.
    Visiting from Tuesday Muse.

  10. What beauty, what peace-what coolness! Visiting from A Rural Journal and happy following along!
    Sweet Hugs,

  11. Beautiful shots of the mountain reflecting in the lake. It makes me want to go hiking very soon.

  12. How gorgeous Linda! Looks like it was a perfect day. Thanks for taking us all with you :)

  13. Fun post for a vicarious hike!

  14. I'm pretty sure Oregon has the best of all worlds. :)
    Pinecones, mountains, waters & wildflowers, and the friendliest paparazzi ever! (great shot!! makes me smile!)

  15. Always count me in for any of your hikes! The more Mt Hood shots the better.
    What a rewarding day for you all!

  16. Stunning pictures. I really liked the one of the cool tree too. Is Bear staying closer to you on the trail now?

  17. I think you can print those lake reflection photos right now and frame them---sooo beautiful! And the paparazzi one-love it:)
    Great post!
    PS: I do need to confess a smile lit up my face when I read those magical words..."Mt. Hood".

  18. Who says you can't get nice shots past the "golden" window of opportunity? That snow on the mountain must be torture to look at though when it's hot on the trail.

  19. Nice views and pretty flowers

  20. What an amazing hike - there's nothing like your part of the world when the weather is nice like this.

  21. I love the mountain reflexing on the water. Beautiful photos! I'd love to go hiking there. Thanks for sharing, Laura

  22. I love the idea of a weekly hike invitation. Enjoyed your photos so much Linda. The tiger lily especially caught my eye. :)

  23. so many pretty pictures love the lily

  24. Great shots, Linda. That was a lovely day and a beautiful hike.


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