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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)
An old beaver dam on Low Divide Creek (bobcat)
Route of the Low Divide Creek Hike (bobcat)
  • Start point: Summit TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Gales Creek Trailhead
  • Hike Type: Lollipop loop
  • Distance: 5.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 705 feet
  • High Point: 1550 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

This hike heads down a pretty creek and, although close to Highway 6, allows visitors to get a feel for the steep wet slopes and mixed woodland of the Tillamook State Forest. This is all secondary forest about 70 years old and recovering from the great Tillamook Burns of the period between 1933 and 1951. Hillsides once the realm of the majestic western red-cedar are now 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 you can also begin this hike at the Gales Creek Trailhead.

Note: This section of the Gales Creek Trail has reroutes in the works, one by a mountain biker group and the other by Trailkeepers of Oregon (TKO), that keep the trail higher up the slope from Low Divide Creek. Trailkeepers' route is now open to the public (2019).

From the Summit Trailhead, the Gales Creek Trail descends 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. You might notice old beaver dams that have caused the creek to spread out, but there are no signs of recent activity. The trail splits, with the newer route heading right to make a traverse along the slope. Large sword ferns dominate the understory. The trail gradually descends and passes an alder-rimmed seasonal pond. When you reach the older trail, make a right and traverse up a Douglas-fir slope. The path crosses a footbridge over a tumbling creek, winds around the slope, and then switchbacks down. Large cedar stumps in the woods here give you a flavor of the magnificent old growth that once graced these slopes. This area was also near the center of the first big Tillamook Burn in 1933 and was also scorched in the 1945 burn. You'll cross another creek on a footbridge, rise up a slope, and then drop to cross a small creek. Reach the Gales Creek-Low Divide Creek Loop Trail Junction where a sign says the 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 track, then drops off it down to the left, and switchbacks to steps that descend to Rogers Road. Follow the road down 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. At the end of the parking area on a mossy boulder, you'll see a plaque honoring Randy Hodges, a contracted trail worker who was killed by a large rock while working on the Gales Creek Trail farther upstream.

To complete the small loop, take the trail signposted "Low Divide Loop" that follows a graveled tread through a salmonberry, devil’s club, and 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, stay right to hike up the Low Divide Creek valley and eventually reach the Summit Trailhead.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Share trail with mountain bikers

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 25 Hikes on Oregon's Tillamook Coast by Adam Sawyer
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • Best Hikes Near Portland, Oregon by Fred Barstad
  • 50 Hikes in the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests by the Sierra Club, Oregon Chapter
  • 50 Hikes in the Tillamook State Forest by the Tillamook State Forest Committee, Columbia Group Sierra Club
  • Oregon Campgrounds Hiking Guide by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • Oregon Nature Weekends by Jim Yuskavitch
  • Oregon Coast Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Scott Leonard & Megan McMorris

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.