The Zigzag River is a tributary, about long, of the Sandy River in the U.S. state of Oregon. The Zigzag and one of its major tributaries, the Little Zigzag River, drain the Zigzag Glacier on Mount Hood, a high volcanic peak in the Cascade Range. Their waters flow westward to meet the Sandy River near the community of Zigzag. The river's flow ranges from . The dramatic topography of the Mississippi Head escarpment dominates the upper Zigzag River, where the Timberline Trail crosses the Zigzag River and the Paradise Park Loop Trail crosses a tributary. Avalanches have necessitated rebuilding of the Timberline Trail switchbacks on the southeast side of the river; the Pacific Crest Trail also follows this route. Seventy-five-foot (23 m) Little Zigzag Falls on the Little Zigzag River is one of the three most popular off-road locations in the Zigzag basin, along with Mirror Lake on the Camp Creek tributary and the area just west of Timberline Lodge under three ski lifts which drains into the largest tributary, Still Creek. Other than 11,239-foot (3426 m) Mount Hood, the highest point in the Zigzag watershed is Devils Peak which has a fire tower now used by overnight hikers. This area is under consideration in the 2007 Oregon Wilderness Area bill before congress for addition to the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness. The northern part of the watershed and the uppermost Zigzag River are in the Mount Hood Wilderness. Falling between source and mouth, the stream's average loss of elevation is about . According to American Whitewater, the last of the Zigzag River, from Tollgate to the Sandy River, has been rated Class III (difficult) to IV (very difficult) on the International Scale of River Difficulty for whitewater boating. The average gradient in this stretch is . Although the Zigzag River is closed to salmon and steelhead fishing, it offers catch-and-release fishing for coastal cutthroat trout.
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