Paradise Park, Mt Hood

August 14/15
Elevation – Min: 4700ft Max: 6200ft
12.5 mile Round Trip
Myself & Kristin
Paradise Park Hiking Photos
Garmin Connect –  Day 1 stats,      Day 2 stats

Video Action

Paradise Park is located just West of Timberline Lodge Ski Resort. There are a few different approaches to Paradise Park – via Ramona Falls, Burnt Lake, and Timberline trails. We chose the Timberline Lodge approach because of peace of mind parking the car at the Lodge and the mileage/elevation is the less strenuous of these approaches.

It was a perfect weekend to escape the Portland, Oregon heat and run to the Mountain for some cooler temperatures. We had just recently moved into a new place that unfortunately does not have central air or any kind of air conditioning for that matter; however, it does have plenty of storage room to my plethora of outdoor gear that definitely makes up for it (except when its 90+ two weeks out of the year). So to eliminate the problem of sleeping in the house, which definitely felt like was on top of the equator we headed up – 6,000 ft to be exact.

Timberline Lodge is located at 6,000 ft and is one of the select few areas in the world that have year around skiing/snowboarding. We left the house relatively early in anticipation of others thinking the same way we were. We hit the trail just after 8am.


[Looking South towards Timberline Lodge w/ the Flag blowing in the furious winds]


[Kristin amped for backpacking]

From the Timberline Lodge parking lot up to the trailhead we encountered frustrated skiers/snowboarders. The lifts were being delayed (not sure if they actually ever ran that day) due to heavy winds. The distance from the parking lot to the trailhead always seems like it is an eternity away because you are just starting to acclimate to the heavy pack, the elements (tornado like winds), the elevation (6,000 ft is a big change from living at 200 ft!), and warming up em’ cold muscles. For the first .25 miles from the parking lot to the trailhead it wakes you right up – the steep trail, beautiful views of Mt Hood & a few other Cascades, and fresh mountain air get you going.

I have hiked the entire Timberline Loop (41-ish mile hike around base of Mt Hood) the past few summers and have always noticed the trail juncture for Paradise Park, but had never made it up as it is early on in the trip (trail juncture is about 5ish miles from Timberline). I have always enjoyed the first section of the Timberline Loop and decided it was time for Kristin to enjoy it as well.

To Paradise Park you hike along the Timberline Loop trail #600, which is also shared with the almighty Pacific Crest Trail (trail that spans from Mexico to Canada).


The trail is continuously winding in and out of the forest giving you great glimpses of the Cascade Peaks and beautiful treed valley. From time to time you’ll come across snow patches that have been so lucky to survive most the summer. Just under a mile into the hike you will come across a Wilderness Permit Box. When entering the Mt Hood National Forest (and many other forests for that matter) you are required to sign in by filling out some basic information. This info basically is used to track the usage of the area and does influence the amount of funding it granted as well – so fill it out!

From Timberline Lodge to the top of Zig Zag Canyon it is mostly down hill (which makes for a good warm up to the hiking experience). Despite it being downhill we were still bundled up because of the heavy winds. The winds were causing mini dust storms blowing the fine-grained sand everywhere coating everything in it.


[Atop Zig Zag Canyon enduring the crazy winds/sand storm]


The descent into Zig Zag Canyon is long, gradual with just a couple steep grade switchbacks. Trekking poles are nice to have on much of this trail especially when you are carrying a decent amount of weight. The 4×4 traction gives you more balance and provides you with a little peace of mind through sketchy sections of washed out trail and river crossings. Hiking down into Zig Zag Canyon there are a couple of narrow spots along the trail with a decent cliff like drop. Unforntuately for “Daisy the dog” a few years ago she took the tumble. While hiking the full Timberline Loop we had “Daisy the dog” & “Max the dog.” Along this particular narrow section of trail the dogs were vowing for the lead. Needless to say Max won as Daisy slipped and tumbled down the hillside after being launched off a log. A 1 hour rescue operation took place. It was extremely difficult to get to her as the ground was wet and steep. She was luckily just a little dazed and sore – we were able to continue along the trail.

Along the river in Zig Zag Canyon is always a great spot to rest for a few minutes. If you hike a few hundred yards up river there is a sweet waterfall.


Crossing the river can be somewhat tricky depending on the time of year / time of day you cross. We usually cross in the morning when water levels are not as high – but even then it can be a little tricky to keep the feet dry. Usually if you hike up river a ways it narrows just enough to make a leap across with minimal danger of your feet getting wet.

After crossing the River the elevation climb begins. From the River (4700 ft) to the top of Paradise Park (6200ft) it is up up and up for about 3 miles. Not far after hiking above the river you come to a trail juncture. To the left you continue around the Mountain on the Pacific Crest Trail/ Timberline Loop #600 and to the right is the Paradise Park trail.

From Trail #600 / Paradise Park trail cut off the steepness increases a bit. Portions of the trail are made up of fine grained sand, which make it difficult to hike it – every step you slip back a few inches. Again, the ole trekking poles come in handy! Along the Paradise Park Loop trail you come to the Paradise Park Summit Trail cut off. This area is truly Paradise – a high Alpine Meadow with amazing views of the Cascade Mountains and the valley.

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Hiking up to the Paradise Park summit is fairly steep so we decided to pull over in a shady spot and hang out for awhile as we were way ahead of schedule. We watched other hikers head up the hill to the summit – by the looks of the hill it looks pretty steep! 

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At the Paradise Park Summit the wind was blowing hard so we had to layer up. We hung out up there for awhile – long enough for Kristin to get a nap in. While she was napping I jotted up towards the Mountain a ways. We were a few weeks late on seeing the wildflowers in few bloom, but there was a few left.


Its pretty cool to see the headwaters of some of the major rivers in the area. Here’s a sweet “fresh” (a few hundred yards from the glacier) waterfall.

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It was starting to get late in the day and we were seeing some crowds roll in so we decided to hike down and claim our camping spot. We scored a sweet spot near a creek with a perfect view of the Mountain.


We hiked up on this bluff to watch the sunset. Truly beautiful!

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[cool wildflowers up there]


[Enjoying the sunset]


[if you look close enough you can see the I205 bridge!]

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[cool moon]



[my best attempt at getting a night shot – I had the shutter open for 15 seconds (max my camera goes) pic doesn’t do it justice.. as always]

And of course in the morning we watched the sunrise… It rose at 6:10am, but from our camping spot we didn’t see it until 7:30am-ish.

IMG_1318We didn’t stick around for long as it was heating up fast! I didn’t want to wait for it to get hot while I was climbing up Zig Zag Canyon!


[I let Kristin wear my “positive energy” bracelet to increase her balance :)]


[Timberline Ski lifts in the distance – we are close!]

This was a perfect backpacking trip for Kristin’s first backpacking experience. The weather mostly cooperated and we were able to enjoy the clear skies with both sweet sunset/sunrise’s. I highly recommend checking this one out as either a day hike or short weekend backpacking trip. 


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Teresa Frick on August 27, 2010 at 4:04 am

    You two are amazing. This looks like so much fun!! Beautiful pictures of the sunset!!!


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