Popular Mirror Lake Trailhead to Relocate, with New, Safer Parking Facilities

Release Date: May 22, 2017  

Drawing of parking lot and toilet

The Mirror Lake Trail’s beautiful scenery, convenient location, and relative ease make it one of the most popular trails in the Mt. Hood National Forest. The existing trailhead is located on the south side of Highway 26, approximately one mile west of Government Camp. However, the existing trailhead parking area is small and is located on sharp curve along U.S.  26. Visitors often overflow the parking lot and park on the highway shoulders or across U.S.  26.

Rich Watanabe, Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Area Manager for Metro East, adds “ODOT has heard of concerns that the existing parking area is undersized and access is challenging. This project allows for adequate parking, separated from Highway 26, which will create a much safer and enjoyable user experience.”

The Zigzag Ranger District of the Mt. Hood National Forest in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and ODOT are working together on a joint project to relocate the Mirror Lake trailhead to a new location that will include restrooms and ample parking.

“The Mirror Lake Trailhead project will improve access for hikers and create a safer, more convenient access to this popular trail,” said Bill Westbrook, Zigzag District Ranger. “The project includes an ADA-compliant section of trail down to Camp Creek, allowing accessibility to many more users than the existing trail.”

Visitors to the new trailhead will enjoy the new Trailhead Amenities including:

  • A new 0.75-acre, 50-space, parking lot to be constructed immediately west of the existing Mt. Hood Ski Bowl ski resort parking lot;

  • A trail connection from the new parking area to the existing Mirror Lake Trail. In order to do this, the following will be constructed:

    • A new footbridge over Camp Creek;

    • A 1,250-foot-long, six-foot-wide “universal” (Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant) paved trail segment to connect the 350-foot distance from parking lot to a new Camp Creek Bridge;

  • About one mile of new “connecting trail” from new Camp Creek Bridge up to the existing trail near the Lake. This trail will be designed and built according to USFS guidelines.

  • Improved access to the area from US 26 (intersection improvements, turn lanes, and an intelligent transportation sign);

  • A vault toilet restroom structure at the new trailhead; Seat walls, picnic table, bike racks, and interpretive sign kiosk at the new trailhead;

  • A new USFS trailhead facility monument sign.

Mike Odom, Project Manager for the Federal Highway Administration says “Only through all the agencies working together was it possible to move this project forward. Our design team did a great job and I think people will be very pleased with the new trailhead.”

Construction is planned for 2017 and 2018 and is not expected to impact use of the existing trail. Hikers will use the existing trail until the new trailhead is complete, then will switch over to the new parking lot. Users can expect to see work on the new trailhead in the summer and fall. Short delays on Highway 26 are expected while crews improve the intersection near Ski Bowl parking lot. Public notices in the newspaper, on the radio, and on the web will describe construction traffic schedules. For more information, see the webpage at:  https://flh.fhwa.dot.gov/projects/or/mirror-lake/.

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Drawing of parking lot and toilet