Paradise Park is an alpine meadow around Mount Hood that is appropriately named for its beauty year round. The park is particularly beautiful when it is littered with wildflowers in July and August. You can see the top of Mount Hood for most of the hike and the variation in terrain makes this trek essential for people who like hiking in Portland. After you park at the intricately built and historic Timberline Lodge, you head east up towards the mountain to the Timberline Trail #600, which is also the Pacific Crest Trail #2000. The trail takes you from the Mount Hood Wilderness to a forested ridge to the alpine meadow of Paradise Park.
What Makes It Great
Throughout most of this hike, you get incredible views of the cliffs of Mount Hood above you along with incredible views to the south on a clear day including Mount Jefferson and the Three Sisters. At the Zigzag River crossing, take a look upstream to the beautiful Zigzag Falls. As you continue down the trail, the meadows that open up are outstanding, especially with the backdrop of the rugged cliffs of Mount Hood. The cliffs make for an interesting contrast with the flat meadows that are carpeted with numerous different kinds of wildflowers in July and August.
For this hike, you start on the Timberline Trail #600 to the left and pass under chairlifts. After about 1.2 miles, the trail dips into the Little Zigzag Canyon. You will descend into the forest and past the Hidden Lake Trail #779. For those who would like to backpack this trail, there is a nice primitive campsite right before the junction below the trail and another campsite in just another .1 miles. The trail reaches the Zigzag Overlook at about 2.2 miles, which gives you sweeping views of the canyon and the meadows you are headed toward. There will be a trail going up to the right, but you should descend back into the forested slope, which takes you another mile to the bottom where you will cross the Zigzag River. From there the trail climbs before you get to the Paradise Park Loop Trail at about 3.9 miles. Take a right here, which starts the loop around Paradise Park.
The trail continues to climb through some switchbacks and at 5 miles you will reach a junction with the Paradise Park Trail. Continue on the Paradise Park Loop, and cross the South Fork of Lost Creek, which is a great water source if you intend to backpack through this area. After walking through some of the most beautiful meadows you have ever seen, the trail crosses the North Fork of Lost Creek. This is another great water source and there are also some nice primitive campsites.
As you continue through the flatlands of the meadows, you will see a huge rock, which has an exposed camp right next to it. As you continue, you will pass the headwaters of Rushing Water Creek and few more campsites. At about 6.3 miles, you will get to the junction with the Pacific Crest trail. Take a left on Timberline Trail and continue to the crossing on Lost Creek. There are campsites before and after the creek. You will get to the junction with both the Paradise Park Trail #778 and the original junction with Paradise Park Loop Trail, where you should retrace your steps to get back 4 miles to the Timberline Lodge.
Who is Going to Love It
The entire route around Paradise Park is easily one of the most beautiful places around Mount Hood. The elevation gain and loss on this trail makes it difficult for less experienced hikers, but is totally worth it for and accessible to intermediate or experienced hikers.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
For this hike, park at the Timberline Lodge and go up and left for the Timberline Trail #600. To get to Timberline Lodge from Portland, take US-26 past Government Camp and turn left on Timberline Road.