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Rock Creek Wilderness Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Rock Creek, as it flows out of the Rock Creek Wilderness (bobcat)
Skunk-cabbage bog, hiking into the Rock Creek Wilderness (bobcat)
Puffballs, Rock Creek Wilderness (bobcat)
Cluster of seven Sitka spruce, Rock Creek Wilderness (bobcat)
The short incursion into the Rock Creek Wilderness (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: USFS
  • Start point: Rock Creek Campground TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Rock Creek Ford
  • Trail log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 1.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 100 feet
  • High Point: 190 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Easy
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Hike Description

The Rock Creek Wilderness, at 7,468 acres, is the most pocket-sized of the pocket wildernesses on the central coast of Oregon. The wilderness protects the creek valley and the ridges north and south of it, where there are meadows that shelter the endangered silverspot butterfly. No official trails lead into the wilderness area, but a rooty user path tunnels into the creekside thickets from the Rock Creek Campground. You’ll reach a meadow that was the site of a homestead, and by that time you’re officially inside the wilderness even though there are no signs to tell you so. To continue you’ll have to ford Rock Creek and end up walking along the creek bed itself.

Note that the campground is only open for four months of the year, so the rest of the time, you’ll have to hike in from Highway 101. The campground is operated by a concessionaire, so day-use fees apply and the Northwest Forest Pass is not honored.

Walk down the campground road until you reach Campsite #15 at the east end of the campground. You can access Rock Creek here to get a good impression of its lush environs. The user trail tunnels through salmonberry and elderberry thickets on the vestiges of an old road bed. Alder, western hemlock, and Sitka spruce form the overhead canopy and the boggy, rooty tread winds among skunk-cabbage and slough sedge. Cross a couple of trickling creeks, and pass a big Sitka spruce. Reach a skunk-cabbage bog, and walk along a log to avoid sinking into the mud. A bypass takes you left above more of the bog in an oxalis/foam flower carpet. Pass the root system of a large toppled spruce before hiking under young alders. The trail heads up the slope to your left and, on the descent, you’ll duck under a fallen alder and pass through more salmonberry thickets. Here, you may see a rusting tub and old tire in the underbrush. Cross a makeshift bridge on a small creek, and reach a weedy meadow, the site of a former homestead. This meadow is heavily frequented by elk. Follow a tread through the grass to the Rock Creek Ford.

You can decide if you want to continue from here. A trail does go a little farther on the opposite bank, but after this you are better off wading up the creek to penetrate the wilderness more deeply.


Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Cape Perpetua Scenic Area, Cummins Creek Wilderness, Drift Creek Wilderness, Rock Creek Wilderness
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Siuslaw National Forest
  • Pacific Northwest Recreation Map Series: Oregon Central Coast

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • $5 day-use fee (Northwest Forest Pass not honored here)
  • Campground, restrooms, picnic tables

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Central Oregon Wilderness Areas by Donna Ikenberry Aitkenhead
  • Oregon’s Wilderness Areas by George Wuerthner
  • 120 Hikes on the Oregon Coast by Bonnie Henderson
  • Atlas of Oregon Wilderness by William L. Sullivan

More Links


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.