Mt. Hood – Hunchback Mountain Loop

Location Mt. Hood National Forest, OR
Lower Hunchback trailhead
Distance 23 miles
Total Elevation Gain 5800 ft
Topographic Map


The Hunchback Mountain loop is a neat and fairly uncrowded hike just outside of Portland. The views, when you get em, are picturesque Oregon. The trail is rugged, somewhat overgrown, and has sections of deadfall–but in a fun kind of way.

Start at the end of the parking lot of the Zig Zag ranger station, which is right off the highway and there no fee/permit required to park. The Hunchback Mountain trail drives steep up the mountainside with occasional rocky outcroppings that look out to the forested valley you’ve ascended. You won’t see many people, and the ones you do see will probably comment on how they never see people out on the trail.

Once you get to the top of the eight mile climb, you’re rewarded with hopefully an empty lookout to stay in and hopefully an awesome view of Mt. Hood. Unfortunately, neither hopes were met the day I was there but the wild hike was still a fun one.

Loop back around for a long, but downhill day along the Salmon River trail. This trail is much more crowded, but provides some great valley views and scenic river landscapes.

  • If there’s no room at the inn, there is a campground next to Kinzel lake. Descend down the trail on the northeast side of the lookout till you get to a parking lot, walk down the road a small bit, and grab the trail on the right. The FS 2016 topo maps don’t show this road! Walk down this trail till you get to an intersecting trail and head right (east) down that trail. There are no signs! This will get you to the campground.
  • There was one section of the Hunchback Trail where I wasn’t sure if I was still on the trail–it was so overgrown by brush. Don’t worry, you’re still on the trail.
  • Coming from the Kinzel lake parking lot is a much faster way to get to the lookout. If you want to start from Zig Zag and want to stay at the lookout, be an early bird.

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