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Elk Mountain Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

King's Mountain from the summit of Elk Mountain (Jerry Adams)
Typical section of trail to Elk Mountain (Jerry Adams)
Summit of Elk Mountain (Jerry Adams)
Looking South from the summit of Elk Mountain (Jerry Adams)
Map of Elk Mountain/King's Mountain area
  • Start point: Elk Creek TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Elk Mountain
  • Trail log: Trail Log
  • Distance: 3.2 miles round trip
  • High Point: 2788 feet
  • Elevation gain: 2080 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: spring, summer, fall, possible in the winter
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Busy during summer and weekends, especially the first part to Burnt Lake


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 Creek 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.

For the Elk Mountain hike, 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 Elk Mountain/Wilson River Trails up. There's a good sign. The other trail, the Elk Creek Trail follows the road past a closed gate.

After about 0.2 mile, there's the Wilson River-Elk Mountain Trail Junction. Take the Elk Mountain Trail up. The other trail, the Wilson River Trail continues straight and fairly level. Again, there's a good sign. From here, the trail is fairly rugged, as the picture attempts to show. You probably have to use your hands at a few places. The trail goes up and down a bit over small knolls. During the winter in can be snowy, and after rain it can be muddy making it almost impassable.

As you go along the trail, there are progressively better views down to the road, toward King's Mountain, and the rest of the Coast range. There is a sign and log box at the summit. There's a fairly large level area to soak in the views and rest.

When you're done looking around, go back the way you came. If you want a very strenuous hike, the trail continues, see Elk Mountain-Kings Mountain Loop Hike.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • none


Trip Reports

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Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland, by Paul Gerald
  • 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Oregon Coast & Coast Range by William L. Sullivan
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • 75 Scrambles in Oregon by Barbara I. Bond
  • 75 Hikes in Oregon's Coast Range and Siskiyous by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • Best Hikes Near Portland by Fred Barstad
  • 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
  • 50 Hiking Trails: Portland and Northwest Oregon by Don and Roberta Lowe
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill

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.