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Marys Peak North Ridge Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Looking northwest from the summit of Marys Peak (bobcat)
Vine maple in the fall (cfm)
White fawn lilies (Erythronium oregonum) on the North Ridge (bobcat)
Club moss (Lycopodium) along the North Ridge Trail (cfm)
Douglas-firs on the North Ridge Trail, Marys Peak (bobcat)
The hike up the north ridge of Marys Peak to the summit (bobcat) Courtesy: USFS
  • Start point: Woods Creek TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Marys Peak
  • Hike Type: Lollipop loop
  • Distance: 10.3 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2770 feet
  • High point 4,097 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

The trail up the north ridge of Marys Peak, the highest point in the Oregon Coast Range, takes you into old growth forest and up the western boundary of the Marys Peak Municipal Watershed, the source of drinking water for the City of Corvallis. This route is also a part of the newly inaugurated Corvallis to Coast Trail. You'll rarely encounter other hikers until you reach the large parking area only 330 feet below the Marys Peak summit area. (Note that mountain bikers are permitted on some of the trails, however.) While there are likely to be numerous visitors at the summit meadow on a sunny day, the wide-ranging views to the Pacific Ocean and the Cascades are just reward for the long climb. It's recommended that you take the East Ridge Trail and Tie Trail on the return to add a little variety to your hike.

From the parking area, walk around the closed gate, pass a sign for the Marys Peak Municipal Watershed, and find the North Ridge Trail 30 yards ahead on your right. (Mountain bikers will continue up the gated road for their ascent to join the East Ridge Trail.) The trail enters a secondary forest of Douglas-fir, western red-cedar, western hemlock, sword fern, salal, Oregon grape, and vine maple, with a carpet of oxalis. The trail heads up and levels. You might notice a user path leading off to the left towards the North Fork Rock Creek on an old road bed. The path rises again, switchbacks twice, and makes a gradually ascending traverse. Three more switchbacks take you up along a steep slope. The understory becomes more open as you enter a grand park-like setting of huge Douglas-firs with a thick moss understory. This is an excellent area for mushrooms in the fall, and that is likely the only time you will run into others on this normally quiet trail. Make a long traverse and switchback, passing much larger Douglas-firs. After another long traverse, you'll switchback into an understory of young hemlocks. The next long traverse takes you to a switchback and passage around the nose of a ridge. Boundary signs appear for the Marys Peak Scenic Botanical Area. Switchback up four times in dark young hemlock/Douglas-fir woods before arriving at the North Ridge-Tie Trail Junction.

Stay right here for the last 0.6 miles to the main parking area on Marys Peak. Hiking up the ridge crest, you'll notice more noble and silver firs, and the summit road appears above you on the right. When you reach the summit trailhead, cross the parking area and pass the restrooms to pick up a maintenance track that leads to the communication array on the summit.

Sixty yards south of the restrooms, a trail leads left up a grassy knoll that offers views east to Philomath and then the Cascades, where you can make out Mount Jefferson and Three Fingered Jack. Join the summit road track, and bear left. The road curves around to the summit giving expansive views to the east and the south. When you reach the top of Marys Peak, enjoy the 360-degree views up and down the Coast Range, west to the Pacific Ocean, and east across the Willamette Valley to Mount Jefferson and the Three Sisters. You may be able to see all the way south to Diamond Peak. Mount Hood, Mount Saint Helens, and Mount Rainier are visible to the north. Although there is a relay station here with antennae, the meadows make a perfect spot for a picnic on a warm dry day. Phlox, larkspur, paintbrush, and desert-parsley bloom here in the spring.

The summit descent begins on a trail heading down the meadow. A posted arrow tells hikers to veer left, and the trail drops in the meadow and then swings right. Glacier lilies and violets bloom here in the spring. After entering noble fir woods, you'll reach a junction. You can go left here to complete the Meadow Edge Loop to the Marys Peak Campground; otherwise, stay right to emerge from the woods reach a multi-trail junction at the summit road. This is where your ascent trail over the grassy knoll joined the road. Now take the Summit Loop Trail leading down to its right. This trail traverses the meadow below the knoll on the east side of Marys Peak, offering more views to the east, to enter montane forest and reach the East Ridge Trail #1324 below a set of steps.

Make a right here, and descend the slope under old growth noble firs. The trail then switchbacks into an open area thicketed with vine maple and ocean spray. Pass across a mossy rock face, and traverse down a steep slope to make another switchback. You've now passed out of the noble fir zone to enter an old growth Douglas-fir/hemlock forest with vine maple, sword fern, and Oregon grape in the understory. A long traverse takes you down to a switchback just above a bench and T-junction with the Tie Trail.

The Tie Trail is a one-mile connector to the North Ridge Trail. Take this trail into a vine maple thicket, after which the path undulates a little before reaching the east fork of Chintimini Creek. Large old-growth Douglas-firs rise above and soon you'll reach a series of springs at the headwaters of the main branch of Chintimini Creek. The trail keeps rising from here under big hemlocks and Douglas-firs shading a pretty oxalis carpet. When you reach the North Ridge-Tie Trail Junction, bear right to hike the three miles back down to the Woods Creek Trailhead.


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Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 75 Hikes in Oregon's Coast Range and Siskiyous by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Oregon Coast and Coast Range by William L. Sullivan
  • Day Hikes in the Pacific Northwest by Don J. Scarmuzzi
  • PDX Hiking 365 by Matt Reeder
  • Take a Hike: Portland by Barbara I. Bond
  • Corvallis Trails by Margie C. Powell
  • A Guide to Trails in the Corvallis Area by Phillip R. Hays
  • Siuslaw Forest Hikes: A Guide to Oregon's Central Coast Range Trails by Irene & Dick Lilja
  • Wild in the Willamette edited by Lorraine Anderson with Abby Phillips Metzger
  • Hiking Oregon's Geology by Ellen Morris Bishop
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Craig Hill & Matt Wastradowski
  • Oregon Coast Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon Campgrounds Hiking Guide by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • Canine Oregon by Lizann Dunegan

More Links


  • CFM (creator)
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.

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