backpack: Mount Hood – Burnt Lake

Two night backpacking trip at Burnt Lake, with a day hike to East Zigzag Mountain

Day 1

hike in 3.6 miles with 1,400 ft gain

Last weekend, I did a day hike to Burnt Lake and partway up East Zigzag Mountain and scouted for campsites for a return trip. After a week of heavy rain (and snow on Mount Hood), the conditions were quite different just one week later.

Five friends and I hiked in on Saturday via the Burnt Lake North trailhead. The first two miles of trail go through a dense forest, with hollowed-out cedar snags left from a wildfire in 1906. After a sharp turn in the trail, take the side trail on the left to a viewpoint of a waterfall on Lost Creek.

Mount Hood - Burnt Lake backpacking trip

starting the hike in

Mount Hood - Burnt Lake backpacking trip

hollowed-out cedar

Mount Hood - Burnt Lake backpacking trip

dense forest with lush undergrowth

Mount Hood - Burnt Lake backpacking trip

Lost Creek

 

The trail crosses several tributary creeks before ascending along a ridge with openings and occasional views of Mount Hood.

Mount Hood - Burnt Lake backpacking trip

Burnt Lake Creek crossing

Mount Hood - Burnt Lake backpacking trip

the trail gains elevation at this point

Mount Hood - Burnt Lake backpacking trip

view of Mount Hood from the trail

Mount Hood - Burnt Lake backpacking trip

Burnt Lake

 

At Burnt Lake, there are seven designated campsites tucked into the trees  (none have views of the lake), with day use areas spread alongside the lake shore. Note: campfires are not allowed within half a mile of the lake.

We set up camp at site #7 on the east side of the lake. We heard from hikers that a bear was sighted on the trail up to the lake, and we had heard the same thing last weekend. I brought my bear canister for food storage, and we hung the rest of our food and all toiletries in the trees about 100 feet from our camp… just in case.

We never did see the bear, but there were plenty of opportunistic chipmunks zipping around our campsite all weekend. They are not afraid of people at all, and would pester us while we ate, even running across our feet, with one attempt to run up my leg. Obviously, they are used to getting fed. Please don’t feed wildlife, no matter how cute they are or how much they seem to be begging for a bite. They really become a nuisance, and our food isn’t good for them.

Mount Hood - Burnt Lake backpacking trip

our campsite

Mount Hood - Burnt Lake backpacking trip

small pond behind our campsite

Day 2

day hike to East Zigzag Mountain: 2.8 miles 800 ft gain

In the morning, two of us got up early to see the sunrise over Burnt Lake. There wasn’t much color in the sky but it was pretty anyway.

Mount Hood - Burnt Lake backpacking trip

 

After breakfast, we did a day hike to the top of East Zigzag Mountain, with views of five volcanoes: Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, and Mount Jefferson. Nice fall color was seen in the huckleberry shrubs on East Zigzag Mountain.

Mount Hood - Burnt Lake backpacking trip

view of Mount Hood from the ridge below East Zigzag

Mount Hood - Burnt Lake backpacking trip

fall color on huckleberry shrubs

Mount Hood - Burnt Lake backpacking trip

heading up East Zigzag Mountain

Mount Hood - Burnt Lake backpacking trip

at the top of East Zigzag Mountain

Mount Hood - Burnt Lake backpacking trip

heading back to camp

Day 3

hike out: 3.6 miles with 1,400 ft loss

We woke up on the second morning to a light rain that started and stopped a couple of times, just enough to get our tents wet. We packed up our gear and hiked out.

Mount Hood - Burnt Lake backpacking trip

some of the snow on Mount Hood melted in the rain overnight

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