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Kings Mountain Junior Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

The "fissure" on Coronary Ridge, Kings Mountain Jr. (bobcat)
Matchstick alders on the old jeep road route to Kings Mountain Jr. (bobcat)
Sign on Coronary Ridge, Kings Mountain Jr. (bobcat)
Kings Mountain from Kings Mountain Jr. (bobcat)
The route of this loop hike in red; other trails in blue (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Topo
  • Start point: King's Mountain TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: King's Mountain
  • Trail log:
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 5.9 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2695 feet
  • High Point: 3226 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Spring through Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No
Poison Oak

Contents

Hike Description

There are various off-trail or unofficial routes up ridges that allow for interesting loop hikes to the summit of Kings Mountain. The Kings Mountain Junior route is the easiest of these since it follows a Mazamas-maintained track along the crest of the southwest ridge of the mountain. Before construction of the Wilson River Trail, the Kings Junior route to the ridge took an old logging track; this road bed is now veritably drowned in the cascade of matchstick alder that came down in the Fall 2006 storm. Purists may want to attempt this path, but the Wilson River Trail happily bypasses it and provides unimpeded access to the southwest ridge.

The trail heads up a fern gully under Douglas-fir, alder, and vine maple. After 0.1 miles, reach the junction with the Wilson River-Kings Mountain Trail Junction and go left. Cross a creek and head up. The trail crosses an old logging road, the former Kings Mountain Junior route before the Wilson River Trail was built. Cross a footbridge over a creek, and then step over another small creek protected by a thicket of devil’s club. The trail switchbacks at a partial view. Reach the ridge crest and drop over it; then make a traverse back to the crest. The trail now makes a lengthy traverse along the west side of the ridge and heads gradually up, with big-leaf maples and some hemlocks entering the forest mix. Reach an old road bed and head along it for 150 yards. After the road drops a little, the path passes between two alders to head around the nose of the ridge. Here you will arrive at the unsigned Wilson River-Kings Mountain Junior Trail Junction.

This trail rises steeply in salal and Oregon grape under Douglas-firs. Eventually, it reaches an open area on the rocky ridge crest. Head along the narrow crest, passing a painted sign designating this rocky backbone “Coronary Ridge.” There are views south to the Moore and Ben Smith Creek drainages and a steep drop-off below. Burrow through Douglas-firs along the crest reaching a high point with no view, but there have been glimpses of the Kings Mountain summit and west ridge through the trees. The trail drops steeply down in salal, Oregon grape, and red huckleberry; there may be some flagging now. The trail rises steeply with more semi-obscured views of the Kings summit. Then the trail levels and rises past a sign for Kings Mountain Junior and reaches the Kings Mountain-Kings Mountain Junior Trail Junction.

Go left here on a level section past a 0.63 miles to the summit sign, and then hike steeply up to where the gradient eases again. Look to the right for the old logging road that begins the obscure Coxcomb route, a roundabout bushwhack/scramble to the summit. It’s about 200 yards above the Kings Junior junction. From here, you keep up past the 2,500’ level sign and wind up steeply, including an ascent of some rock “steps.” A spur leads left 60’ to a viewpoint of the west ridge. The trail winds up steeply again in Douglas-fir forest and passes a picnic table. Exit the woods and pass the 3,000’ elevation sign. Head up through meadows, often snow covered in winter and blooming with wildflowers in the spring and summer. There’s a view of Mount Hood to the right and Mount Adams through the trees before you reach the summit. Sign the Mazamas-maintained summit register if you wish and note the 3,226’ elevation sign. Near the summit, you can picnic on a carpet of kinnikinnick overlooking the Lester Creek valley, with views of Coronary Ridge, the Lester Creek pinnacles, the alder-shaded road bed that is the Wilson River Trail, and the North Fork Wilson.

To make the loop, head down past the Kings Mountain-Kings Mountain Junior Trail Junction. This is a major switchback, and the main trail from here drops down an old logging road. Make a level traverse as the old road, on a short cut, drops steeply down to the right. The trail passes the 2,000’ level and winds down with a creek on the left. Reach another logging road and rise slightly past the shortcut road. The path switchbacks under alders and descends on an old road bed and then becomes more gradual. The large stumps in these woods attest to much logging in the years before the Tillamook Burn. The trail levels in Douglas-fir woods and then drops slightly, heading down a ridge with a rushing creek to the right. Sword fern dominates the understory. The trail drops to the left, crosses the head of a small gully, and heads up a ridge to wind down steeply. Switchback at a view of a creek and then head gradually down under alders past the junction with the Wilson River-Kings Mountain Trail Junction to the parking area.


Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Oregon Department of Forestry: Tillamook State Forest Map & Guide (Doesn't show Kings Junior route)

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Snow cover varies considerably from year to year; check on conditions before planning a cold season hike
  • Share Wilson River Trail with mountain bikers

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • 50 Hikes in the Tillamook State Forest by the Tillamook State Forest Committee, Columbia Group Sierra Club (describes former Kings Junior route)

More Links


Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

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