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Trails: Frog Lake and Twin Lakes

Frog Lake and Mount Hood OregonPhoto ©Tyson Gillard/Outdoor Project

Because the Pacific Crest Trail is so accessible, it should be near the top of every runner’s list of destinations for summer trail runs. The Frog Lake Sno-Park is only about an hour east of Portland, and the roughly nine-mile route described here takes you through some of the finest scenery and on the smoothest trails the Northwest has to offer.

Find the PCT near the sno-park parking area’s western end. The trail north from here climbs steadily for about a mile and a half, topping out near its junction with the Twin Lakes trail.

Stay on the PCT, however, continuing another 2.5 miles or so until meeting the Palmeteer Trail (#482). Turn right here, and after about a mile you’ll come to the Palmeteer viewpoint trail, a short (0.3 miles) out-and-back to a barren hilltop that offers stunning views of Mt. Hood to the north, Barlow Ridge, and the expansive White River valley.

Return to the main Palmeteer trail, which twists and turns down to the lakes. (Keep on the lookout for another short off-shoot in this stretch that will take you to a rocky overlook, yet another opportunity for great views of the valley.)

The tranquility of the lakes will have you pondering a future camping trip with family and friends. Then begin your last ascent and return to the PCT for a final reward of a thrilling downhill cruise back the parking area.

Directions: Take Hwy. 26 east of Portland; Frog Lake Sno-Park is approximately seven miles east of Government Camp. Map sources: Mt. Hood and NW Oregon Trail Map; Mt. Hood National Forest map

-Phil Orlowski