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Hillockburn Trail Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Looking downstream, South Fork Clackamas River (bobcat)
Oxalis log, Hillockburn Trail (bobcat)
Wood blewit (Clitocybe nuda), Hillockburn Trail (bobcat)
Large Douglas-fir, Hillockburn Trail (bobcat)
Route of the Hillockburn Trail as it descends to the South Fork Clackamas (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Hillockburn TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: South Fork Clackamas Camp
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 2.9 miles
  • Elevation gain: 900 feet
  • High Point: 2,390 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: Mid-spring into Fall
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No



Ignored by the guidebooks and off the western edge of many forest maps, the Hillockburn Trail is the only maintained entry into one of the closest slivers of wilderness to the Portland area: a parcel of the five-part Clackamas Wilderness, which was signed into law in 2009 under Title I of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act. Most of this slope was burned over 100 years ago, but some imposing giants remain near the South Fork Clackamas River, which runs pristinely through an undisturbed bottomland.

Note that the trailhead is routinely trashed, cleaned up, and then trashed again. Some of the worst elements of the outdoor warrior type like to come here and shoot up trees (If you see such activity, report it to to the Clackamas River Ranger District: 503 630-6861). You shouldn't encounter much vandalism after the first 100 yards, however. On weekends, the sharp reports of a nearby target shooter may accompany the initial section of your descent.

The trail descends between boulders on an old road bed in a forest of western hemlock and Douglas-fir with a vine maple, Oregon grape and salal understory. After the road ends, the trail traverses a slope and soon enters this section of the Clackamas Wilderness. Old snags here are the remnants of a 100-year-old burn. Pass under arching vine maples and look for a variety of mushrooms along the trail in the fall.

After the fairly level traverse, the trail begins to drop, switchbacking down six times in a carpet of Oregon grape. Make a switchback at the first really big tree on the trail and pass another huge Douglas-fir just a few yards later. A fast-flowing creek runs to the right. Pass through a salmonberry thicket and make three switchbacks down. The South Fork Clackamas River becomes visible at the bottom of a lush hillside full of windfall. The trail crosses a brushy slope and steps over a fallen giant. After the last switchback, descend among arching wood ferns to a bottomland with a small campsite. Tall Douglas-firs rear above the cedars and hemlocks. You can push through the salmonberries to the river itself and enjoy the sound of the torrent.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • none


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Hillockburn Trail #516 (USFS)
  • Green Trails Maps: Fish Creek Mtn, OR #492
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Clackamas River Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood

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Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • none

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Page 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.