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Nehalem Falls Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Nehalem River, Nehalem Falls (bobcat)
Looking downriver at Nehalem Falls (bobcat)
Trail along the river, Nehalem Falls (bobcat)
The short loop at Nehalem Falls (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Nehalem Falls TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Old Growth Loop
  • Trail log:
  • Hike Type: Lollipop loop
  • Distance: 0.9 miles
  • Elevation gain: 70 feet
  • High Point: 120 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

Nehalem Falls are located near a quiet campground at about Mile 15 1/2 on the Nehalem River in the Tillamook State Forest. The falls and their fish ladder are near the trailhead. In the wet season, when the river runs in full spate, the fish ladder cannot be seen and these low falls are drowned, looking more like a set of rapids. The loop hike takes you along the banks of the river to a stand of rare old growth Sitka spruce and western hemlock that survived logging and the big fires. The trees are not too large, but this kind of grove is rare in the Coast Range. Do this hike as an appetizer for the nearby Cougar Valley Hike.

From the trail sign, head down towards the river. Go left to the rocks above the falls, which are more like a roiling rapid in winter and spring. In late summer and fall, there's about an eight-foot drop over the length of the narrow chute through with the river funnels, and a wide rock ledge is exposed, but one still wonders about the efficacy of the fish ladder. Across the Nehalem, you can see the tracks of the abandoned Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad, once a part of the Southern Pacific network. The river banks are shaded by red alder, Sitka spruce, western red-cedar, and western hemlock, and there are picnic tables in the vicinity.

Head up on the main trail, which parallels the campground road. Anglers' trails lead down the steep banks to the river. You can also look for some summer swimming holes. Pass a stick fence and a view across to the railroad trestle over Fall Creek. Hike past the walk-in campsite area, and reach the loop junction.

Go left here to pass a spruce and cedar “married” at their bases. The trail undulates in old growth forest with a sword fern carpet and thickets of elderberry. Head up a rooty incline to a bench. Here the loop turns back, and you pass through the upper end of the elderberry thicket. Keep left at a junction above the campground turnaround circle and drop to Campsite #4. Walk back to your car along the campground road.


Fees, Facilities, etc.

  • Information kiosk at trailhead
  • Campground with restrooms open in summer
  • Dogs on leash
  • Campsites are $10/night

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 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

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.