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Low Divide Creek Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Low Divide Creek near its confluence with Gales Creek (bobcat)
Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis), common in this part of the Coast Range (bobcat)
Alders along Low Divide Creek (bobcat)
Route of the Low Divide Creek Hike (bobcat)
  • Start point: Summit TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Gales Creek Trailhead
  • Trail log:
  • Hike Type: Lollipop loop
  • Distance: 4.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 705 feet
  • High Point: 1550 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Hike Description

Trailkeepers of Oregon will host work parties on this upper end of the Gales Creek Trail on Saturday, January 20th and Saturday, February 3rd - 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Each day, there will be a trail design workshop. Please sign up on the Trailkeepers Trail Work page.

This hike heads down a pretty creek and allows visitors to get a feel for the Tillamook State Forest. This is all secondary woodland about 65 years old and recovering from the great Tillamook Burns of the period between 1933 and 1951. Hillsides are dominated by Douglas-fir and western hemlock, but the creek bottoms host large groves of red alder, a species that readily spreads on the bottomlands and lower slopes of disturbed forest. There is a small loop at the lower end of the hike and the recommended start is right along Highway 6 at the Summit Trailhead although a hike uphill from the Gales Creek Trailhead is possible between May and October when the road to the Gales Creek Campground is open.

Note that work is being done on this trail in 2018. Two reroutes will take a good portion of the trail higher up the slope and away from the creek.

From the Summit Trailhead, the Gales Creek Trail descends steps in two short switchbacks and drops in Douglas-fir woods down an old road bed. Low Divide Creek runs below to the left. Oregon grape, sword fern, and salal form the understory. Cross a footbridge and wind steeply down to the valley floor, where large alders stand over the creek. After crossing another footbridge, head up and traverse above a soggy alder bottomland. There’s another footbridge and then the trail heads down above the creek. There are old beaver dams that have caused the creek to spread out, but there are no signs of recent activity. The trail rises and then drops to a footbridge and wends down through salmonberry thickets. A spur leads down to the creek. The path heads into an alder-filled bowl and winds down, passing over a small creek. Make an undulating traverse above Low Divide Creek. The trail rises and falls several times, traversing and dropping down through woods with alders on the left and Douglas-firs with some cedars and hemlocks on the right. Cross another creek. Large stumps in the woods here give you a flavor of the magnificent old growth that once graced these slopes. Reach the Gales Creek-Low Divide Creek Loop Trail Junction where a sign says Gales Creek Campground is 0.2 miles.

Go right at the junction and head up to an old road bed. The trail makes use of the road bed and then drops off it down to the left and switchbacks to steps that descend to Rogers Road. Go left on the road over the culvert that carries Low Divide Creek and pass the Gales Creek Day-use area. It’s 220 yards or so along the road to the Gales Creek Trailhead parking area on the left. Take the trail signposted "Low Divide Loop" that heads up on a graveled tread through a salmonberry, devil’s club, vine maple thicket under Douglas-firs. At a junction, go left and cross Low Divide Creek to head up its south bank to the Gales Creek-Low Divide Creek Loop Trail Junction above a railed footbridge. Here go right to hike up the Low Divide Creek valley and eventually reach the Summit Trailhead.


Maps

Fees, Regulations, etc.

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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 (to Bell Camp Road)
  • Oregon Campgrounds Hiking Guide by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Scott Leonard & Megan McMorris

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.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.