Zigzag River


The Zigzag River Basin is located on Mount Hood’s southwestern flank, flowing from the Zigzag Glacier to its confluence with the Sandy River near the town of Brightwood. The area is known for high precipitation, falling primarily as snow at the river’s origin and rain lower on its course. The river was first named by pioneer Joel Palmer, who traversed Mount Hood in search of a navigable route to the Willamette Valley.

Native Species

  • Coastal Cutthroat Trout
  • Resident Rainbow Trout
  • Spring Chinook Salmon
  • Fall-chinook-salmon
  • Coho-salmon
  • Summer-steelhead
  • Winter-steelhead
  • Mountain Whitefish

Basin Stats:

  • Location: Mount Hood, Clackamas County
  • Major Contributing Streams: Little Zig Zag River, Still Creek, Camp Creek, Henry Creek, Bruin Creek, Hackett Creek
    • River Length: 12 miles


  • Threats from Hatcheries.
    • The Cedar Creek Hatchery program
  • Threats from habitat degradation.
    • There are numerous road crossings that allow road runoff/effluent to enter the stream. Many of the homes along the Zig Zag and its tributaries are serviced by septic systems, which have the potential to fail during storms. Numerous septic systems in the area were damaged during storms in 2014 and 2015.
  • Threats from hydropower and fish passage barriers
    • Marmot and Little Sandy Dams are gone! However, numerous culverts exist that are inadequate for fish passage. Projects are in the works to restore fish passage on some tributaries, including Henry Creek.
  • Threats from over harvest
    • The Sandy basin has seen its fair share of poaching in years past, as well as views wild fish recovery as a nuisance to the ‘right’ to harvest.


  • Decommissioning Marmot Dam and Little Sandy Dam, Cedar Creek Hatchery litigation, Still Creek habitat restoration

Conservation Partners within the Basin:

Western Rivers Conservancy, Freshwater Trust, Sandy Basin Watershed Council

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