Bureau of Land Management National Park Service U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service U.S. Forest Service

Zigzag River, Oregon

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Managing Agency:

U.S. Forest Service, Mt. Hood National Forest


Designated Reach:

March 30, 2009. From its headwaters to the Mt. Hood Wilderness boundary.


Classification/Mileage:

Wild — 4.3 miles; Total — 4.3 miles.

Zigzag River

Photo Credit: Tim Palmer

Zigzag River

The Zigzag River arises from the base of Zigzag Glacier at approximately the 5,000-foot elevation on Mt. Hood in Oregon's Cascade Mountain Range. The 4.3-mile segment of the river from its headwaters to the Mt. Hood Wilderness boundary is administered as a wild river.

The river flows steeply over mud and pyroclastic flows through a sparsely vegetated area in a narrow canyon. The canyon rim itself and beyond is well-forested. There are two waterfalls within the segment adding to the diversity of the river. Intrusive rocks within the corridor are responsible for the waterfalls and other structures. This type of geology is found on other volcanic peaks throughout the region, as well as other locations on Mt. Hood, but is limited essentially to the higher elevations of those peaks, making it relatively unique in comparison to other rivers in the region. The river itself is glacial in origin and has a relatively even flow throughout the year, though it varies during spring runoff and rainfall events.