Zigzag - Hwy 26 to Lolo Pass

Zigzag, Oregon, US


Hwy 26 to Lolo Pass

Usual Difficulty III-IV (for normal flows)
Length 3.2 Miles
Avg. Gradient 108 fpm

Typical Zigzag River

Typical Zigzag River
Photo by Rob Cruser taken 05/24/17 @ a good level

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-14137000 1000 - 3000 cfs III-IV 00h59m 785 cfs (too low)

River Description


More info at Virtual Soggy Sneakers. (See below to buy the book.)


Flows:  The Sandy @ Marmot gauge is a loose correlation (and varies by season a bit), but can give you a ballpark idea.  1,500-2,500 cfs and dropping is medium.

Check the photos tab for the visual gauge on the creek, it is not advisable to run the creek at high water unless you know the run, and the current wood situation well.


Stream:  A unique run flowing off of Mt. Hood that is consistently runnable fall through snowmelt.  In 2010 the run lacked any mandatory wood portages, in 2017 there was a fair bit of wood in the upper reaches.  Expect the situation to change year to year and even month to month sometimes.

The run is fast with few eddies and will test a paddlers coping skills, as stopping is often not achieved simply through eddy catching.  Running up onto shallow sections or grabbing branches is a common strategy.  The run is fast and keeps your brain engaged.  While no individual rapid is very hard (mostly III+), stacked together it is enjoyable for class IV boaters. There is one moving pool at the Still Creek confluence, the rest of the run is relentless.  Best on a warm day with some snowmelt.


Access:  The best run starts on HWY 26 and ends on HWY 26.  If you are driving Eastbound the first time you cross the creek is the takeout, the second time is the put-in.

If the wood situation is a bummer in the upper part of the run, people will put in at Tollgate Campground instead.

When the wood situation allows, some boaters like to continue down to the bridge near the Sandy or even further.  In 2017 there was a big log jam between the Still Creek confluence and the Sandy confluence.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-02-01 22:20:36

Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
February 1 2018 (350 days ago)
robcruser (157924)
5/24/2017 Ran from the upper end of Tollgate CG to the Sandy River confluence at Lolo Pass Road.
Sandy at Marmot was 2200, Sandy below Bull Run 10.5/3200. This flow is probably at the high end of
prudent. Eddies are pretty scarce at this level and they disappear entirely with much more water.
HIGHLY recommend putting in below the logjam at the lower end of Tollgate CG as there are portages
at upper, middle and downstream ends of the CG as well as a blind left that is spooky but runnable
(wood on right bank where the only micro-eddy is for stopping/scouting). The only way to stop
before the logjam is a tiny, one-boat eddy on the left that you have to know about in advance after
a long-stretch of eddy-free water. It is very hairy trying to manage multiple boats approaching
this hazard. On a straightaway after a right-bend below the logjam is an easy log-hop on the left
which can be scouted from the left bank at the corner. From here to the giant logjam-complex about
a mile below the Highway 26/Still Creek confluence the river is completely clean and great fun with
the rapid below the Road 20 bridge being the standout. Portaging the big jam is an ordeal (on the
right through the woods). Starting the portage 50 yards upstream is better as it becomes more
difficult to enter the woods the closer you get to the jam. This is a great flow if you're
cautious, scout blind corners and always have your next eddy figured out in advance.