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Mirror Lake

Hiked:   July 27, 2003
Length:   6.4 mile out-and-back
Elevation Gain:   1500 feet
USGS Quad:   Government Camp
GPS Coordinates:    N:     45 17' 50"
 W:  121 47' 31"
Photo Gallery:   Mirror Lake Photos

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To Reach (From Portland):

Take I-84 eastbound to the 238th/Wood Village Exit.  Turn right off the exit and head south until reaching the intersection with State Highway 26.  Turn left onto the highway, and head all the way up to Mt. Hood.  Just shy of Government Camp, between mileposts 51 and 52, you'll see a turnout on the right, probably packed with lots of cars and a few portable toilets. Make sure you have a Northwest Forest Pass to park at the trailhead.

The Trail:

This is an extremely popular hike during the summer, and for good reason.  The short, 3.2-mile round-trip to Mirror Lake offers swimming, camping, and great views of Mt. Hood.  The short, easy approach is suitable for children and dogs.  Mirror Lake isn't named for the clarity of the water, that's for sure, but rather the reflection of towering Mt. Hood in the water.  The lake is used for swimming and camping, and is often inundated by mosquitoes and biting flies, so bring your repellent!

The real treat of the hike is what's in store for you if you climb an additional 700 feet in about 1.5 miles, up to the top of Tom, Dick, and Harry Mountain, just west of Ski Bowl Ski Area.  The views are spectacular, with your panoramic 360 view obstructed only by looming Mt. Hood.  Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Jefferson are clearly visible from the top, which is rocky and contains one campsite.

Start the hike by exiting the highway, and crossing over Yocum Falls on a narrow footbridge, and heading uphill into the forest.  The trail is lined by wildflowers in summer, making a beautiful setting.  After 0.4 miles, you'll emerge from the forest to get your first glimpse of Mt. Hood since the trailhead, and get a good vista below as you traverse an open hillside.  Upon reaching a fork in the trail, stay to the right unless you want to hike around Mirror Lake. 

There are six campsites around Mirror Lake, and you'd better make early dibs if you're going to get one.  You'll pass a couple of swimming beaches, and get to another fork in the road, where you'll keep right to continue up the trail, and head left to hike around the lake.  You'll traverse another open hillside, covered in wildflowers and huckleberries in late summer, which offers nice views of the valley below.  Follow the trail up the rockpile to the summit at 4920'. 

This is where most people eat lunch, surrounded by cascading views of the mountains and the Salmon-Huckleberry wilderness.  Mirror Lake looks tiny below you, as you pick out the Bergschrund Crevasse and Palmer Ski Lift on Mt. Hood.  This is as far as the trail goes, as the other two peaks are closed off for peregrine falcon habitat.  When you're done gasping in awe, head back down the way you came for a dip in the lake and your car.

Our Take:

We went up to Mt. Hood this day with our friends, Jeannie and Brian, and their Border Collie, Pablo.  We picked this hike because we liked the moderate 6.4-mile length, and Brian wanted somewhere he could take a dip on this 85 day.   Pablo was full of energy, and raced up and down the trail all afternoon, and did plenty of swimming in the lake. 

The trail up to Mirror Lake was pleasant, crossing a couple of creeks, and passing lush foliage and wildflowers, giving a few glimpses of Mt. Hood.  We were surprised by the absence of poison oak on this trail, despite its presence above and below us on the open hillsides.  We were not surprised by the abundance of biting flies, a given for alpine areas in the summer months.  Luckily, we had brought plenty of repellant.

We headed past the lake, and up to the viewpoint, which surpassed anything we had expected.   The day was crystal clear, and the unobstructed view of five snowpeaks and tiny Mirror Lake overshadowed by mammoth Mt. Hood was quite a sight.  We spent a fair amount of time at the top, gazing, and taking photos. 

The trail was pleasant, not too steep, but still decent exercise, and the gentle slope was welcomed on the descent.  On the return, Brian and Pablo went for a swim, while the three of us looked on.  Brian remarked that the lake wasn't very clear, due to the muddy bottom, but that it was sure refreshing!

We would highly recommend this hike for anyone who enjoys moderate slope, moderate length hikes, and panoramic views.  We wouldn't advise doing this hike on a bad-weather day, as it is very exposed, and can probably get hit pretty hard on nasty days.  Click on the link below to view our slide show!

Sights of the Mirror Lake Trail

Camp Creek at the Trailhead Mirror Lake Camping at Mirror Lake
Mt. Hood From the Trail Mirror Lake From Tom, Dick, and Harry Mountain Chipmunks are Plentiful at the Top of Tom, Dick, and Harry Mountain
Great Views of Mt. Jefferson Trailside Wildflowers A Great View of Mt. Hood over Mirror Lake


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