09/26/2022 | Recreation, Trails

Dog Friendly Hikes Near Mt. Hood

Hundreds of miles of trails flank the sides and base of Mt. Hood, spoiling those who live in or close to Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory with their pick of some of the most beautiful scenery in the state. Luckily for dog owners, most of the trails are dog-friendly and vary in difficulty in length, so there is something for all abilities. From alpine lakes to raging rivers to mountain views and switchbacks through old growth forests, hiking with your dog near Mt. Hood never disappoints!

Zigzag Mountain

There are a number of trails of varying length and difficulty that lead to Zigzag Mountain, including Burnt Lake Trail, Cast Creek Trail, Horseshoe Ridge Trail, and of course Zigzag Mountain Trail #775. You can connect some of the trails to make large loops or do an out and back on just one. It's the hiker's choice!

Trails approach from either the west or the east and all of them involve some climbing. The road to Burnt Lake is long and bumpy and requires high clearance, but is doable. The Zigzag Mountain area is stunning with an incredible view of Mt. Hood to enjoy while you eat lunch from the top. 

In the summer, you’ll find beargrass as you near the top and come September the huckleberries make a nice trail snack. Mosquitoes can be ravenous in late summer and ground wasps are known to sting when provoked.

Mirror Lake/ Tom Dick And Harry

The easy four-mile family-friendly hike to Mirror Lake is a popular trek thanks to the picturesque reflection of Mt. Hood in the glacial cirque lake. Consider planning a midweek sunset hike to both catch the pink and purple alpenglow on Mt. Hood, and avoid fewer crowds. Better yet, go during the fall months when there are even less people.

After admiring the vista you can either return to the car, or continue on to Tom, Dick, and Harry mountain adding four more miles and 700 feet of climbing to the hike. 

The beautiful wildflowers and pink rhododendrons will distract you from climbing if you go during the early summer months. A 200-foot scramble is required to reach the peak, which clocks in at just under 5,000 feet. From the top, you’ll be rewarded with a smack dab view of Mt. Hood, as well as views of other prominent Cascade peaks, including Mt. Jefferson, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Hood.

The trail is also popular during the winter for snowshoeing and cross country skiing. 

Salmon River Trail

Spanning for a total of 14 miles, you can go as far or as short as you like on the Salmon River Trail. The relatively flat trail follows the Salmon River through old growth rainforests and is usually accessible year round, due to its low elevation. If backpacking is your thing, there are plenty of campsites at varying points along the trail to spend the night.

If you can make it past the first three to five miles, the crowds thin out and you will likely have the trail mostly to yourself. Resist the urge to scramble down to the river, the cliffs are not stable posing a serious falling risk.

Wildlife can be active on this trail, bring bear spray and keep your dog close by if they have a high prey drive or lack recall.

Ramona Falls

A classic Mt. Hood hike located just an hour and a half from Portland, Ramona Falls is a seven-mile lollipop loop starring the namesake 120-foot cascade. 

Water in the Sandy River can run swiftly when the river runs high from late spring to early summer, keep dogs on leash near any river crossings. The Forest Service used to place a bridge over the crossing, but is no longer doing so. Call ahead to determine whether passage is safe. 

Dangerous river crossings aside, the trail is popular for a reason. The gradual incline follows the Sandy River Trail in the beginning, connecting to both the Timberline and Pacific Crest Trails to complete the loop with beautiful views of Mt. Hood and the surrounding foothills.

The loop can also be completed during the winter with snowshoes or on skis, just be mindful that the gate is closed further down the road from December 1 to April 1.

Timothy Lake Loop

The 13-mile loop is an easy trail that follows the shores and forests surrounding the largest lake in the Mt. Hood National Forest. It’s a popular loop for trail runners or if you prefer to backpack, there will likely be a spot among the 260 campsites at the lake.

Timothy Lake is actually a reservoir to help regulate water flow on dams along the Clackamas River below. The campground is packed during the summer months, but outside of the camp area, you can find some quiet. Better yet, head to the lake during the fall to catch some of the abundant waterfowl that call the lake home.

Pack your paddleboard and enjoy a scenic paddle with gorgeous views of Mt. Hood reflecting in the lake.

Paradise Park Trail

If you’re looking for mountain views, colorful wildflower meadows, and waterfalls, then this is the hike for you! Paradise Park starts at Timberline Lodge and is popular during summer weekends, so it’s best to go during the week if you seek solitude. 

The 12-mile trail meanders up and down as it climbs through a forested ridge above the Zigzag River along the Pacific Crest Trail before dipping into Zigzag Canyon. The view from the Zigzag Overlook will keep you there for sometime as you admire the canyon and views of Mt. Hood.

Flag Mountain Trail

For a short and sweet hike with few people and a view of Mt. Hood, Flag Mountain Trail is just the hike. The four-mile out and back trail starts out steep over the first half-mile, then levels out along the ridge. Catch your breath and have a snack at the thoughtfully-placed bench with views of Huckleberry Mountain.

Continuing along, keep an eye out for Mt. Hood before the trail drops back down onto an old Forest Service road where you’ll turn around. Mountain bikers also use this trail, so be sure to watch out for them. There is also bear and cougar activity in this area, so keep your dog close by.

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