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Elk Creek Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Washout from November 2006 of the Elk Creek Trail (Jerry Adams)
Turn after 4 miles on Elk Creek Trail (Jerry Adams)
3 way junction between Elk Creek Hike, and the trails to Elk Mountain and Kings Mountain (Jerry Adams)
Map of Elk Mountain/Kings Mountain area


Hike Description

Elk Mountain and Kings Mountain are two popular hiking destinations in the Oregon Coast range. The trails are a little more rugged than typical Columbia River Gorge or Mount Hood trails. They are lower elevation than Mount Hood hikes so they are possible in the winter when Mount Hood trails are snowed in.

There are two trailheads, the Elk Mountain Trailhead and Kings Mountain Trailhead, off highway 6 between Portland and Tillamook.

There are four hikes mentioned here - Elk Mountain Hike, Kings Mountain Hike, Elk Mountain-Kings Mountain Loop Hike, and Elk Creek Hike. These cover all the trail sections but you could obviously construct other combinations.

Carry water - there are (almost) no sources of water along the trails. This area is best for day hiking but the Elk Creek Hike mentions a possible backpack.

The Mazamas have adopted these trails, so they are well marked and well maintained.

The Elk Creek Trail is an easy trail, it follows an old logging road. There's a gate that prevents any vehicles. The only thing that makes the trail difficult is the length and elevation gain. The logging road and route have existed for a long time, but only recently has it been officially named the Elk Creek Trail. Most trail guides don't mention it.

Start just past the Elk Creek Campground. The road continues, over a bridge, to a parking area. There are two trails out of the trailhead - Take the the Elk Creek Trail which follows the road past a closed gate. There's a good sign. The other trail, the Elk Mountain/Wilson River Trail goes up.

The first part of the trail follows Elk Creek with a gradual elevation gain. Pass the Elk Creek Crossing, where the Wilson River Trail branches off on a single handrail bridge to continue the new eastern extension of that trail (See the Elk Creek to Idiot Creek Road Hike. Note that the bridge is only in place from May to October - in other months, you'll have to ford the creek.). You will reach a section where the road bed was washed out during the November 2006 floods; here, head up to the left to take a short section through the woods. After rejoining the road bed, you will notice it starts getting steeper with a few switchbacks. After 4 miles, take a left turn. The logging road you were following, continues, eventually to a road. If you followed this, there would probably be few people and some nice views. There is sign at this turn. The trail you want to follow is another logging road, but it starts steeply, so it's easy to miss. This junction is the end of the official Elk Creek Trail and the beginning of the official Elk Mountain Trail.

It's another 0.8 miles to the three-way Elk Mountain-Kings Mountain Trail Junction, from which trails lead up the back sides of Elk Mountain and Kings Mountain. This is the end of this hike. Go back the way you came. If you decide to go back via the Elk Mountain Trail, beware, that trail is very difficult, especially near Elk Mountain. It would be better to go the other direction, so that if it gets too difficult it would be easier to turn around.

The trails in the Elk Mountain/Kings Mountain area are mainly day hikes, but if you're looking for a backpack, for example in the winter when there isn't much else that's snow free, there are some flat areas to camp, at the 3 way junction or towards Elk Mountain. There is probably drinking water (in the winter) on the last 0.8 miles of the Elk Creek Hike. Beware that there are periods in the winter when there is too much snow here.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • none

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Best Hikes Near Portland by Fred Barstad
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • Take a Hike: Portland by Barbara I. Bond
  • 50 Hikes in the Tillamook State Forest by the Tillamook State Forest Committee, Columbia Group Sierra Club

More Links


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.