For some quick accessible exercise with rewarding views, the Hunchback Trail to the Rockpile viewpoint is a great option, climbing over 1700 feet in just over two miles. The trailhead is in the large lot past the restrooms at the Mt Hood National Forest’s Zig Zag Ranger station, just off Highway 26. It’s straightforward route that is just the beginning of a much longer route that follows Hunchback Ridge all the way south to Devils Peak and the fire lookout there.
The trail rises steadily up through the forest full of Oregon grape and trails lined by ferns into the Salmon Huckleberry Wilderness, switch backing until coming up to the ridge which narrows and follows along, dipping down a bit before heading up to the Rockpile, an outcropping with great views of the surrounding area.
As I arrived at the Rockpile, so were dense low clouds moving over the distant ridges and into the valleys. The first rain drops, and some fresh gusts of wind convinced me not to linger too long and I set my path for a speedy, yet relaxing run downhill.