Storey Burn Loop Hike
From Oregon Hikers Field Guide
- Start point: Summit Trailhead
- End point: Storey Burn Trailhead
- Trail log:
- Hike Type: Loop
- Distance: 8.1 miles
- Elevation gain: 1645 feet
- High Point: 2200 feet
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Seasons: All year
- Family Friendly: Yes, for older kids
- Backpackable: No
- Crowded: No
The area of Rogers Camp on Highway 6, with its lower elevations, offers all year hiking opportunities when other destinations may be under deep snow. This loop is a well-signposted forested hike with numerous creek crossings and a couple of small waterfalls. You will share the trail with mountain bikers, but it is likely you will not meet another soul although, to offer full disclosure, there may be target shooters in the vicinity of Storey Burn Road and, close to Rogers Camp, the roar of ATVs might drown the twitter of chickadees. Quiet time will dominate, however. There are several trailheads in the vicinity. The route described below begins at the Summit Trailhead and follows the Gales Creek Trail down to the Storey Burn Trail before rising again to the ridge that divides the Willamette and coastal watersheds (See the link under Maps below).
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 trail 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 left at the junction and descend along Low Divide Creek to another junction and a railed footbridge across the creek. There is the option of going right at the junction before the bridge and heading above the right bank of the creek: this would take you to the campground road, whence you can walk downhill to the Gales Creek Trailhead. A graveled trail heads gently down through a thicket of salmonberry, devil’s club, and vine maple under Douglas-firs to reach the Gales Creek Trailhead.
The Gales Creek Trail resumes from this parking area and heads up above Gales Creek in red alder woods which transition to Douglas-firs. There are views of the upper part of Gales Creek Campground across the way. The trail drops and passes the single old-growth tree along the entire route, a snapped-off Douglas-fir that has somehow survived the decades of logging and fires. Fire-blackened snags jut up in the woodland around. The trail winds down to two footbridges (choose one) and keeps descending to a creek to cross another bridge at the Gales Creek-Storey Burn Trail Junction. Go left here.
The Storey Burn Trail rises above an alder-shaded valley. Below is the confluence of two creeks. The trail veers right and rises in Douglas-fir, Oregon grape, salal, and sword fern forest. Another creek confluence appears below with a nice waterfall visible in winter’s leafless view. The trail drops to cross one of the creeks below a small waterfall, rises, switchbacks and winds up past a large boulder below a mossy rock face. The path crosses below a waterfall with a second tier below the trail, and then traverses up a steep hillside. It meets an old road bed and levels for a short time, traverses up off the road bed and then keeps fairly level. The path rises gently up a creek valley and drops to cross the creek before rising again through a small clearcut. From here, it’s a gradual rise to Storey Burn Road. Cross the road and take the spur to the parking area at the Storey Burn Trailhead.
The trail resumes behind an information board. Another trail leads off an old road to the left of this. This is the Sichter Lars Trail, for mountain bikes only. It’s 2.0 miles to the Gravelle Brothers Trail. The trail keeps on the level into a gulley, rises and then levels on an open hillside planted with western white pine. There are open views for the only time on this loop. You can see across the Drift Creek drainage to Larch Mountain and other peaks. The path goes in and out of a gully and levels high above Drift Creek. Then the trail drops into Douglas-fir woods and keeps dropping below the Graham Bridge, which carries Highway 6 over the Devil’s Lake Fork of the Wilson River. Cross a steep Scots broom-infested slope above the Devil’s Lake Fork and spot the long ATV bridge below. Cross the Elliott Creek ATV Trail and enter an alder, big-leaf maple, cottonwood bottomland studded with massive cedar stumps and exhibiting much elk sign. Come to the Storey Burn-Gravelle Brothers Trail Junction and go left.
It’s 0.8 miles to Rogers Camp. Head up a slope forested with red-cedar and Douglas-fir above an Oregon grape/sword fern carpet and come to the second junction with the Gravelle Brothers Trail, where you go left. The trail heads up to a road bed. Go left up the road as it rises to the concrete barrier-rimmed ODOT shed compound. The ATV trail makes its way around this barrier to the Rogers Camp Trailhead, so head through the compound to Highway 6 and Rogers Pass. Keep to the right side of the highway until you cross to the Summit Trailhead and your vehicle.
- Oregon Department of Forestry: Tillamook State Forest Map & Guide
Fees, Regulations, etc.
- Share trail with mountain bikers
- Search Trip Reports for Storey Burn Loop Hike
- Storey Burn Hike Report and University Falls Trail Closure
- Slushy Storey Burn - Gales Creek Loop: 2-14-14
- Storey Burn Trail/Gales Creek Trail/Tillamook State Forest
Related Discussions / Q&A
- Search Trail Q&A for Storey Burn Loop Hike
Guidebooks that cover this hike
- Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
- Kissing the Trail by John Zilly
- Storey Burn Loop (Trimble Outdoors)
- Storey Burn Trail (Forest Hiker)
- Storey Burn Trail (I Heart Oregon)
- Tillamook Burn (Oregon Encyclopedia)
- bobcat (creator)