Rising up above the burgeoning metropolis of Zig Zag, Oregon, the mighty Hunchback soars thousands of fee...................aw, who am I kidding? Hunchback is a small volcanic peak humbly kneeling at the foot of Mount Hood within the Salmon Huckleberry Wilderness. It is very handy for a nice training run with the bulk of the elevation gain to the summit (around 3000 feet) coming in the first couple of miles. (Think Dog Mountain with a nice finishing ridgewalk.) There are some dramatic viewpoints along the way with Hood to the east and the Salmon River at the base of the mountain to the west.
The first viewpoint comes a bit over two miles up on the ridge and looks over some nice moss-covered rock cliffs. Less than a half mile further is a large pile of boulders with views of Hood and some fun scrambling. Just a bit over a mile further still is a short trail (almost hidden) leading to a helispot. Near the summit is a nice cliffside perch called the Great Pyramid with views along the ridge and to the east. The summit itself is on the trail just before the Great Pyramid and is unceremoniously displayed as a moss-covered rock with no marker.
Hunchback itself is really just a ridge that leads to a higher peak, Devils Peak but there is a dip of about 500 feet between peaks so by most accounts, Hunchback counts as a separate peak.
There are two ways to get to the summit. One is by way of a connecting trail between Devils Peak and hunchback. See the Devils Peak page to access that summit and then just follow the trail over. The standard route climbs up from the ranger station in Zig Zag on Route 26 about 4 and a half miles. It's mostly a steep walk-up with a few Class 2 moves just before the first rimrock viewpoint.
The best views of Hunchback come just before you reach Zig Zag as you travel west on Highway 26 towards Hood from Portland. It does rise up from north to south like a whale breaking the surface of the water but, ok, it's not some Cascade monster. It's fairly popular as a hike and the nice views and exercise are probably the reason. Plus, it's only about 45 minutes from Portland.
Getting ThereFrom Portland, travel Highway 26 east about 42 miles to the Ranger Station on the south side of the road in Zig Zag. After pulling in, take a left and park in the lot with the Hunchback Mountain Trailhead. There are two brown signs that state to park between them.
From the east (Mt. Hood) take Highway 26 west to Zig Zag and look for the Ranger Station on the left. (Big signs, it's obvious.)
Red TapeNO FEES OR PERMITS! YAY!
When To ClimbCan be done year-round. Might need snowshoes in winter. Generally snow-free.
CampingThis is a dayhike, however, there are some spots along the trail that would be good for camping and some look like they have been used that way. There is also a Lookout with accomodations on the summit of Devils Peak, 4.5 miles along the trail from Hunchback Mountain. It is a first come/first serve basis with 2 cots.
If you plan on camping on Hunchback Mountain, contact the Ranger District above to make sure you can park overnight in the lot at the Ranger Station.
Mountain ConditionsMt. Hood National Forest
Zig Zag Ranger District
70220 East Highway 26
Zig Zag, OR 97049