Paradise Park

We met up with friends for a one-nighter backpacking trek into Paradise Park this weekend. None of us had ever been there, so we were looking forward to seeing this place we’d heard so much about!

It was a gorgeous morning at Timberline Lodge.

We picked up the Timberline Trail and headed west.

Entering the wilderness.

Looking happy before we begin the LONG descent into Zigzag Canyon.

It was at that spot that we came across Barry, a very nice Forest Service volunteer who was counting hikers. Turns out that about 40-50% of hikers don’t fill out the mandatory wilderness permit, so the FS isn’t able to get an accurate count of how many people are hiking the trails here. Unfortunately this negatively impacts the funding that MHNF gets. So that’s why Barry was out there counting heads.

Crossing the Zigzag River wasn’t a problem. But I would NOT attempt this without poles!

After the long climb back out of the canyon we finally broke out of the trees and started hiking through the most awesome wildflower meadows. This place isn’t called Paradise Park for nothing! (Oh yeah, and we’d been munching on huckleberries along the trail as well. Double happiness!)

More wildflowers, more views!

Just after crossing the south fork of Lost Creek we came across the remains of the old Paradise Park shelter. I thought it was strange that none of the stones were laying around. According to William Sullivan, the shelter was “smashed by a falling tree in 1994 and painstakingly removed.” Why would they do that? Why not let the pile of stones just be?

We set up camp a little ways downhill from the shelter remains and then set off to explore. Here Brad and Greg approach the crossing of the north fork of Lost Creek.

The wildflowers love it down in this creek bottom.

We hiked up to the big broken rock.

We had great views to the south and west. I think that might be Rushingwater Creek way down there.

Dead center in this photo is East Zigzag.

Weird to see autumn colors here and 20 feet down the trail see summer wildflowers!

Back at the big meadows at the junction with the Paradise Park Trail, the guys followed a trail north up to Mississippi Head.

Greg took this photo at 7,200 feet. Mississippi Head is just off-frame to the right.

Dawn and I relaxed by the beautiful creek near our campsite while the boys were off exploring.

After the boys got back we made dinner as the sun started to set. The light on Mt. Hood was beautiful light!

Sunset behind the trees.

Morning was clear and beautiful and chilly. No rainclouds in sight! As we hiked out we stopped to enjoy the wildflower meadow a bit moret. Awesome!

Down below it was quite cloudy, but we were high above the clouds!

After the long descent, river crossing, and ascent out of Zigzag Canyon we stopped for a break on the canyon rim.

The trail was REALLY dusty in places.

As we neared Timberline Lodge we got another view to the south and a giant cloud to the left of Mt. Jefferson that hadn’t been there two hours ago. Only it wasn’t a cloud, it was smoke from the Pole Creek Fire, which we would later learn. Yikes.

Yay, we made it!

There was a lineup of cool old cars at the lodge. I’m not a car person by any stretch of the imagination but even I found all these old cars pretty cool.

We had worked up quite an appetite so we stopped at the Ice Axe Grill in Government Camp for delicious beer and food before heading home. OH YUM!

Great hike, great views, great wildflowers, great company!