The Cast Lake Loop Trail on the west side of Mt. Hood is fairly challenging, but the views are so phenomenal you'll want to ride it anyway.
The trail originates at Riley Horse Camp, climbs Zigzag Mountain, and runs along the top of its long ridge. From the ridgetop, you'll have fabulous views of Mt. Hood and the surrounding foothills. From one panoramic vantage point, you’ll also see Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Rainier. In season, the wildflowers are spectacular.
This ride isn't easy. The loop is 14 miles round trip, with a 2,800-foot elevation gain. It also traverses some steep slopes and has several stretches of rocky tread. Cast Lake offers the only stock water on the trail. However, if you're an experienced rider and your horse is in good condition, the views are truly worth the exertion!
You can camp at Riley Horse Camp, where you'll find corrals, stock water, toilets, and manure bins.
The Cast Lake Loop trail is covered in more detail in the Riley Horse Camp chapter of Riding Northwest Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, available at www.NWHorseTrails.com. Happy Trails!