Little Zigzag River

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Little Zigzag River
Name origin: After the Zigzag River, from the description by Joel Palmer, an Oregon pioneer, of his descent in 1845 of a river canyon, later called Zigzag Canyon, that begins on Mount Hood.[1]
Country United States
State Oregon
County Clackamas County
Source Zigzag Glacier
 - location Mount Hood
 - elevation 6,989 ft (2,130 m) [2]
 - coordinates 45°20′52″N 121°43′03″W / 45.34778°N 121.71750°W / 45.34778; -121.71750 [3]
Mouth Zigzag River
 - elevation 3,071 ft (936 m) [3]
 - coordinates 45°18′45″N 121°47′58″W / 45.31250°N 121.79944°W / 45.31250; -121.79944Coordinates: 45°18′45″N 121°47′58″W / 45.31250°N 121.79944°W / 45.31250; -121.79944 [3]
Length 5 mi (8 km) [4]
Map mount hood vicinity.png
Mount Hood and vicinity
Location of the mouth of the Little Zigzag River in Oregon

The Little Zigzag River is a tributary, about 5 miles (8.0 km) long, of the Zigzag River in the U.S. state of Oregon. The Zigzag and Little Zigzag drain the Zigzag Glacier on Mount Hood, a high volcanic peak in the Cascade Range. Their combined waters flow westward to meet the Sandy River near the community of Zigzag. Little Zigzag Falls, a popular hiking destination, is on the river near U.S. Route 26 east of Zigzag.


The river begins at the head of Little Zigzag Canyon at the southern end of the Zigzag Glacier on Mount Hood. The upper stretches of the river lie within the Mount Hood Wilderness, which is part of the Mount Hood National Forest. To the river's right are the Mississippi Head escarpment, the head of Zigzag Canyon, and the source of the Zigzag River, which also drains Zigzag Glacier. To the Little Zigzag's left is the Palmer Glacier. From its source, the river flows southwest and crosses the Timberline Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) slightly west of Timberline Lodge.[4][5]

Downstream of the PCT, the river runs roughly parallel to the Hidden Lake Trail, which follows a ridge to the right of the canyon. Sand Canyon and its stream, to the left, enter the Little Zigzag as it passes near Hidden Lake, which is on the right. Shortly thereafter, the river leaves the wilderness, turns west, and passes near U.S. Route 26, which is on the river's left. Over its last stretch, the river flows by Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp, which is on the left, passes under Kiwanis Camp Road (Forest Road 39), and enters the Zigzag River.[4][5]

Falling 3,918 feet (1,194 m) between source and mouth, the stream has an average gradient of about 800 feet per mile (150 m/km).[2][3][4] Little Zigzag Falls, a popular hiking destination, lies 0.3 miles (0.48 km) east of a parking lot at the end of Forest Road 39.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ McArthur, Lewis A.; McArthur, Lewis L. (2003) [1928]. Oregon Geographic Names (seventh ed.). Portland, Oregon: Oregon Historical Society Press. pp. 1068–69. ISBN 0-87595-277-1. 
  2. ^ a b Source elevation derived from Google Earth search using GNIS source coordinates.
  3. ^ a b c d "Little Zigzag Canyon". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved December 24, 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c d Oregon Atlas and Gazetteer (Map) (2008 ed.). DeLorme Mapping. § 30. ISBN 978-0-89933-347-2.  Approximate stream length determined by map scale and ruler.
  5. ^ a b United States Geological Survey. "United States Geological Survey Topographic Map: Mount Hood South and Government Camp quadrants". TopoQuest. Retrieved December 24, 2009. 
  6. ^ Lorain, Douglas (2008). Afoot & Afield, Portland/Vancouver: A Comprehensive Hiking Guide (Google books preview) (second ed.). Berkeley, California: Wildnerness Press. pp. 362–63. ISBN 978-0-89997-468-2. Retrieved December 25, 2009. 

External links[edit]