40 miles west of Portland, OR.
Directions: From Portland, take Highway 26
west for about 20 miles. Take the left exit for Hwy 6 towards Banks, Tillamook,
and Forest Grove. This road is also known as the Wilson River Highway.
For the Elk Mountain trailhead:
Continue on Highway 6 for 23.5 miles from the junction Hwy 26 and Hwy 6 and
make a right just after milepost 28 and drive on a dirt road about .3
mile and pull into the first or second parking lot at Elk Creek Campground.
For the King’s Mountain trailhead: Continue on Highway 6 for 26.5 miles from
the junction Hwy 26 and Hwy 6 to about milepost 25 and make a right into the
parking lot for King’s Mountain Trail.
No permits are required.
There is an outhouse at both Elk Mountain and Kings Mountain
Elk Mountain Trail, King’s Mountain Trail, and Wilson River Trail.
There is a geocache along trail at Geocaching.com but it is only available to
Length and Elevation:
11 miles round trip. Elevation gain of 3,471 feet and loss of 1,400 feet to
the summit of King’s Mountain. Elevation gain of 4,100 feet and loss of 4,100
feet roundtrip. Elevation at the trailhead is 1,000 feet, highest point is at
3,226 feet. Lowest elevation is 830 feet.
Review: June 5, 2011.
Walk along the trail on an steady uphill grade for the first .1 mile to a
junction in a small saddle. Look for the trail to the right that heads fairly
steeply uphill. If you pass the saddle and start descending, you have missed
the junction. There are some viewpoints just within the first mile as the trail
climbs and climbs with short sections where the trail loses elevation. The trail
becomes rougher and rockier underfoot. About 1.5 miles from the trailhead the
trail passes through a nice open forest There are lovely patches of violets and
trillium on the trail in the spring.
After 1.7 miles the trail drops down off the summit of Elk Mountain
then starts climbing again. About 3 miles from the trailhead is a little ridge
the trail traverses. About this time you may be wondering if you’re lost but a
little farther is the trail junction for the loop back to Elk Creek Campground.
You’ll know when you get to this trail junction; you can’t miss it. Turn left
at the junction to continue to King’s Mountain.
The hike comes out to a nice viewpoint. From here the trail drops down on the
left and goes underneath the viewpoint to pass beneath the base of the cliffs
with the trail rapidly going up and down 50 to 100 feet at a time. Finally you
reach a series of several switchbacks leading to a ridge just below King’s
Mountain. From the ridge the trail drops down, crosses a small saddle and passes
through sloping meadows and trees to the summit of King’s Mountain.
The top of King’s Mountain has spectacular views of the surrounding peaks and
valleys. From the mostly forested summit the trail drops fairly steeply for
about a mile and enters a relatively flat area. This is a beautiful forest with
and emerald carpet of Sour Apple and other wildflowers. Off to the right you
can hear a creek flowing down to the Wilson
Near the highway is a 4-way trail junction. Turn left onto the Wilson River Trail
and walk through the low elevation forest. Because of the plentiful fall and
winter rains, moss adorns the older trees and the leaves of Vine Maple provide
a colorful attraction in spring and fall. If you need a restroom, walk out to
the Kings Mountain Trailhead which is about .2 mile from the junction.
The trail gently gains elevation which makes the trail popular for mountain
bikes. The trail comes into a large meadow. Driving down the highway, you would
never know there is a large meadow like this in the valley because of the steep
mountainsides and nearby river. The alders growing around the edges make a
pleasant setting for the meadow and the trail skirts the meadow’s edge. The
meadow drains at the east end and the trail crosses a log over the outlet
stream. It is interesting how the stream is wearing away the dirt and makes a
small waterfall, like a micro-Niagara.
The trail steadily gains elevation then drops down a bit and crosses on a
single log bridge over a Dog Creek. From the creek, the trail switchbacks
fairly steeply up the hillside back to the saddle at the first trail junction.
From here drop back down the steady grade back to the trailhead.
This is a hard hike with steep ascents and descents. Don’t take small children
on this loop hike. This loop hike is definitely not for dogs. Consider other
hikes in rainy weather because this trail has steep sections and sections where
the tread slopes steeply to the side and is quite slippery when wet.
Enjoy the photos!