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Hunchback Trail #793

Difficult

Trail

9.4 mile 15.1 kilometer point to point
Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 4,833' 1,473 m
Descent: -1,767' -538 m
High: 4,999' 1,524 m
Low: 1,443' 440 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 13% (8°)
Max Grade: 55% (29°)

Dogs

Leashed
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Trail shared by Kathleen Walker

A long and rugged trail through an iconic wilderness mountain between Zigzag and Kinzel Lake.

Kathleen Walker

Features Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers

  • A Northwest Forest Pass or other valid trail pass is required at the trailhead.
  • The middle and upper parts of the trail are usually snowed-in from December to late May.
  • Bring plenty of water, especially if traveling with a dog.

Description

This is a long, rugged 9+ mile one-way trail that traverses much of the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness and isn't for the faint of heart or legs! To add to the weight of this undertaking, there's little to no water along this trail, and blow down isn't uncommon. Most hikers will opt to to leave a vehicle at the Kinzel Lake Trailhead before hitting the trail.

The trail begins at the parking lot of the Zigzag Ranger District - interestingly the Hunchback Trail serves as a training climb for the Zigzag Hotshot firefighters who work in the adjacent offices. The trail passes by an old spring house covered in moss and begins climbing quickly through the thick green forest.

There's little time to settle into your pace as the trail climbs up sharp switchbacks at grades of 12-20%. After a half-mile, the trail really starts ramping up towards the ridgeline (which you'll reach at about mile 1.2), before it eventually drops to the west side for views into the Salmon River Canyon. The first viewpoint comes at about mile 1.6, where you can rest and recharge with a snack, scramble around the ridge line rocks, and hopefully enjoy the scenery looking up the Still Creek and Zigzag Canyons and peak over into the Salmon River Canyon.

The trail then continues more-or-less on the ridgeline, dropping to the east side of the ridge and skirting below a large talus slope and then dropping to the other side of the ridge. The alternating east-to-west dance continues along the sawtooth-like ridgeline as it heads southeast.

Just after four miles of daunting ridgeline climbing and a catwalk-like traverse is the sign for a user trail going straight ahead to the "Great Pyramid" which offers views into Salmon River Canyon. The Hunchback Trail takes a hard left at this point, so do not follow the spur trail past the viewpoint! At this point, the trail drops sharply before again climbing to regain elevation along the ridgeline. At just over the 5.5-mile mark, you'll reach the intersection with Green Canyon Way Trail #793A on your right (west).

For the next 1.2 miles, the grade mellows out somewhat, before it once again starts climbing to the highest part of Hunchback Mountain that is just over 5,000 feet (you started at 1,440 feet) at almost eight miles in, where you reach the intersection with the Cool Creek Trail #794 and the Devil's Peak Lookout.

At this point, you can continue another mile-and-change to the southeast on the trail to the intersection with the Kinzel Lake Trail #665 and the trailhead parking at Kinzel Lake. Or you can turn around and punish your knees, and head back to the Hunchback Trailhead at Zigzag.

Flora & Fauna

Hunchback traverses from the low elevation of Douglas fir, western hemlock, some western red cedar to high elevation mountain hemlock, silver and noble fir. There are manzanita, vine maple, and other hardwoods that provide fall colors.

Contacts

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Check-Ins

Feb 9, 2020
Karl W
Trails to the first two viewpoints are signed, but only in the descent direction. Both need maintenance.
Jan 3, 2019
Serena Stoiantschewsky
Did not go very far because it was getting dark. Beginning was all uphill and zigzagged up the steep hill. Cougar and bear warnings posted on trail 0.5mi
Aug 23, 2018
Zach L
May 27, 2018
Stacy J

Trail Ratings

  3.5 from 4 votes

#18341

Overall
  3.5 from 4 votes
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Trail Rankings

#572

in Oregon

#18,341

Overall
32 Views Last Month
1,829 Since Oct 11, 2016
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Photos

The Milky Way above Devils Peak Lookout.
Aug 23, 2019 near Governm…, OR
View of Mt. Jefferson and Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness to the south, from Devil's Peak Lookout.  Photo by Jesse Aszman.
Sep 15, 2016 near Governm…, OR
Cool Creek Trail #794 junction with Hunchback Trail #793. Devil's Peak Lookout is west a short distance. Photo by USFS
Sep 15, 2016 near Governm…, OR
Devil's Peak Lookout. Photo by USFS.
Sep 15, 2016 near Governm…, OR

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