Originally, we headed to Bend for a hike around Smith Rock, but changed our minds as we drove through Sandy. Instead, we decided to check out a more local destination, and if we could make it to the trail head (the guides say the road was ‘difficult’), we’d do the Burnt Lake hike instead.
The road started off as a typical single lane forest service road right off of Hwy 26, but gradually got rougher as we climbed out of the valley (lots of drainage, corduroy, speed bump-like channels cut across the road and large rock outcroppings). As we were driving Chris’s new Mini Coupe, we were VERY concerned, but the little car was surprisingly capable. We made it all the way to the trail head after about two hours. All the other vehicles parked there were dirt-covered 4×4 SUV/Trucks.
The trail started off on a former logging road, so it was wide and smooth. It gradually narrowed to the width of a regular trail. We passed through mostly forest, with a few more open thickets.
We decided to take the Cast Creek trail on the way out and the Burnt Lake trail on the way back to the car.
The climb was pretty steep with a lot of steps cut into the trail and concluded in a final scramble up the ridge to the top of ZigZag Mountain where the panoramic views were stunning along the rocky ridge. Cast Lake could be seen far below us, to the east.
We met only six other hikers and a couple of wayward mountain bikers. We plan to return next summer to camp overnight at Cast Lake or on the top of ZigZag.