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Zig Zag Lake

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Old-growth forest, a deep, green lake stocked with big, toothy brook trout, and a lush aquatic environment are the highlights of this trail. The short but steep path penetrates a cool, lush, ancient forest before bursting out of the trees on the lakeshore. If you aren't interested in angling for brookies, study the water anyway-you may see six-inch lizards darting around the shallows or lounging on the submerged logs.

Dropping steeply from the trailhead, the 0.5-mile path loses 600 feet-that's a knee-crunching 1200 feet per mile. Fortunately, the short trail prevents too much descent agony. Rather, by the time you could even start to feel discomfort, the trail levels off alongside the fantastically pretty lake.
Driving Directions:

From Carson, drive 8.4 miles north on Wind River Road (County Road 30) to the town of Stabler and the junction with Hemlock Road. Turn left (west) onto Hemlock Road, cross the river, and bear right (north) onto Forest Road 54. Continue for 6 miles and then turn left onto FR 42. Drive 7 miles west to the trailhead on the right.

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There are 1 trip reports for this hike.
Zig Zag Lake — Jul 24, 2013 — Myrica C.
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Blowdowns | Mud/Rockslide
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After a backpacking trip in the Trapper Creek Wilderness, I thought we'd do a short day hike in the ...
After a backpacking trip in the Trapper Creek Wilderness, I thought we'd do a short day hike in the area before the drive home. Zig Zag lake looked short and doable.

The drive to the trail turned out to be trickier than I'd expected, but in the end was half the fun. Both a Gifford Pinchot National Forest map and the 2 Green Trails maps (Wind River and Lookout Mountain) were helpful at different times. I'll explain driving directions rather lengthily at first; trail description follows.

First, the turn off of the main Wind River Road to access Szydla road and then road 54 is not signed "Hemlock" coming from the north (it's signed as "Old Blaisdell," I think), so we missed the turn and had to backtrack after a few miles. Once on paved road 54, the turn to 42 was the expected middle road at a three-way split, but there are no signs. A tiny "42" marker sign appears shortly after you're on the road. (Here the Nat'l forest map was accurate, but the Green trails map shows road 3301 as the left you're taking.)

Road 42 starts climbing and after milepost 6 you reach a hairpin turn at Cougar Rock. At the southern tip of the hairpin turn, road 4220 goes off basically south. Here, the Green Trails map is helpful as it accurately shows the terrain. The trailhead is not marked in any way, so careful attention to the map is your only guide. You're almost there.

Proceed west/northwest along 42 with the terrain dropping steeply off to your left. Note two logging roads in quick succession on the left, these are on all maps. Just after these roads road 42 skirts around a hilltop blocking your left-side view. You're really close. A rough, 3rd old road to the left then appears, and just 15 or so feet beyond that, a campsite/pullover appears on the right. This is as good as the trailhead gets. Poke around and find what might be a trail in the trees where the hillside drops off steeply.

I found the trail to be every bit as steep as described. You'll climb over one or two blowdowns and hold on to roots at times while descending. Tread is sometimes stable, sometimes sandy/pebbly and slippery.

Just before the lake, the trail seems to maybe split. Going straight, the trail contours along the hill, but also seems to disappear. Oregon grape grows in the trail itself. To the right, a route takes a well-traveled nose-dive straight down an eroded trail/gully full of cobbles toward the lake. It did not look impossible--I mean, one could simply slide down, causing more erosion, though. It also seemed that my dog would startle a range of wildlife, so I decided to turn around. The view of the lake through trees here was good. We turned back satisfied with the close look & mini-adventure.

The hike back up was steep of course, but easier on the nerves, with wildflowers to stop and photograph. I picked up the trash in the "campsite" and admired the butterflies. Driving back out, the views from the road afforded views of volcanoes.
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Zig Zag Lake (#191)
South Cascades -- Mt. St. Helens
USFS Mount Adams Ranger District
Roundtrip 1.0 miles
Elevation Gain 600 ft
Highest Point 4000 ft
Old growth
User info
Northwest Forest Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
South Cascades
Green Trails No. 396 Lookout Mountain

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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