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Zig Zag Lake

South Cascades

Zig Zag is a solitary lake set high in the southern Cascades. While difficult to get to, it's worth the time and effort to explore this area. Continue reading


South Cascades -- Mount St. Helens
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1.0 miles, roundtrip


Gain: 730 ft.
Highest Point: 4000 ft.


3.17 out of 5

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  • Old growth
  • Wildlife
  • Lakes

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

A rare alpine lake in the southern part of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Zig Zag Lake may be difficult to get to, but solitude is likely to be your reward. 

Set at the bottom of a cirque, this tarn is the remnant of a retreating glacier.  The surrounding forest is filled with mature Douglas-fir and hemlock, as well as scattered old-growth giants hanging on to the steep hillside. 

The trail starts at an arête and descends through a cool forest. Fortunately, this slip and slide pumice trail descent is only a half-mile. Trout jumping adds to the picture. 

Hike by WTA Community
Multiple authors contributed to this report

Zig Zag Lake

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 45.8464, -122.1112 Open in Google Maps


South Cascades -- Mount St. Helens

Zig Zag Lake (#191)

Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Mount Adams Ranger District

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Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hike: South Cascades (Nelson - Mountaineers Books)

Buy the Green Trails Lookout Mountain No. 396 map

Getting There

From Battleground, it is 33 miles to the trailhead. Drive to Moulton Falls then take NE Sunset Falls Road to Sunset Campground. FR 42 starts here. Drive this graded road for 4.5 miles until it becomes heavily potholed and rutted, then continue another 2.5 miles to the trailhead. For the last section of road, a high clearance vehicle is recommended.

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

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

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Zig Zag Lake

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