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Salmon Creek Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Mt. Hood and Salmon Creek (bobcat)
Double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus), Klineline Pond (bobcat)
On the bar, East Pond (bobcat)
Great egret (Ardea alba), Salmon Creek Greenway (bobcat)
Douglas-fir and cedar, Cougar Creek Trail (bobcat)
The Salmon Creek Greenway and Cougar Creek Trails (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Klineline Pond TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Felida Bridge Trailhead
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Out and back or partial loop
  • Distance: 9.1 miles
  • High point: 105 feet
  • Elevation gain: 185 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes, on weekends


Hike Description

The Salmon Creek Trail, right off of I-5 in north Vancouver, was opened to the public in 1996. Before that, beginning in the 1920s, the Salmon Creek bottomland was mined for gravel by local businessman Harry Klineline and others. The extensive wetlands are in the middle of a long restoration process. A variety of amenities, including restrooms, picnic areas, a swimming pond, and sports fields, are available close to the parking areas. The trail, however, extends both west and east from there. Hiking west, you'll walk three miles along the edge of lengthy expanse of wetland that sustains beaver and numerous waterfowl. The short extension east takes you to another pond and the shore of Salmon Creek.

To visit Klineline Pond, walk over the footbridge crossing Salmon Creek (No pets are permitted in this section of the park). A path leads right towards I-5 along the south side of the pond, a former gravel pit that is fed by a spring. This is a popular outdoor swimming venue in the summer although it is sometimes closed because of algae blooms. There’s a large viewing platform good for bird watching. Cormorants sunbathe and fish here all year; mallards, wigeons, mergansers, Canada geese, and buffleheads can also be seen scudding along the pond’s surface. The trail becomes gravel and passes under I-5. Cross a footbridge over the creek and then hike the dike along the south and east side of the East Pond. Respect the private property signs and continue around the dike past an illegible sign. You can descend to the shore of Salmon Creek here as it rushes through a willow thicket.

Back at Klineline Pond, find a loop trail that leads along the west shore, which also has a viewing platform. There are restrooms and picnic shelters and a more natural looking pond tucked back in under a canopy of red alder.

To hike the main Salmon Creek trail, begin at the bridge over the creek, and take the paved path leading west along the alder-lined creek. Pass a grassy expanse on the left and walk under power lines. Short spurs lead right to the cobbled creek bank. After passing a second parking area, you'll see a spur leading right to a wooden vehicle ramp that leads towards a restoration area across Salmon Creek. Pass a third parking area at the sports fields: there are restrooms here. Continue along the creek, which is lined with Oregon ash, red alder, black cottonwood, and young cedars. A trail cuts across a curve in the path. Next, see a gravel trail leading left, and then pass between two ponds. Look for herons and egrets here. The creek loops close to the trail. In winter, red-twigged dogwood and yellow-twigged willow accent the bottomland. A path leads left to the loop which you’ll do on your return.

Now you’re passing an open expanse dominated by reed canarygrass and then a thicket of Nootka rose and western spiraea. The trail bends left to a junction, where you go right along the base of a big-leaf maple, Douglas-fir, western red-cedar slope. Come to the Salmon Creek-Cougar Creek Trail Junction at a map sign and go left up the slope.

The Cougar Creek Trail leads up a forested gully for half a mile. First, reach a bench with a picnic table. A steep little user trail leads down to Cougar Creek’s intricately-carved gully. Then, head up above the creek, passing along a fence line and under a large grand fir. Side trails lead to private property, and a three-foot waterfall splashes under a leafy canopy. Reach the Cougar Creek Trailhead on 117th Street and turn around.

Back on the main Salmon Creek Trail, make a left and cross Cougar Creek on a footbridge. In this part of the greenway, the wide creek meanders through expansive wetlands. Hike along the base of a slope through an ash swale (A gully to the left harbors a rusting old trailer). Pass a pond on the right: look around this area for signs of beaver activity. You’ll enter a hawthorn thicket as the path rises a little. Look back to get a great view of Mount Hood. Also, the large pond on the far side of the valley hosts a flock of tundra swans in the winter. The western terminus of the Salmon Creek Trail is at the Felida Bridge Trailhead on 36th Avenue.

Return past the Salmon Creek-Cougar Creek Trail Junction and, at the next junction, keep straight. The pavement soon ends, and you’ll take up a narrow foot trail along the bottom of a slope with the wetland to your left. Douglas-firs and mossy big-leaf maples keep this section in deep shade. Pass a farm gate, and reach a trail junction. To extend the loop, stay right on a wide gravel path that takes you along a grassy field and past an equestrian arena and barn. Cross a paved maintenance road and continue straight, with the sports fields to your left, until you reach the main parking area.


Regulations or restrictions, etc

  • Dogs on leash; no pets allowed at Klineline Pond
  • Park open 7 a.m. to dusk
  • Restrooms, picnic tables, swimming area, playground, ball fields

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Take a Walk: Portland by Brian Barker
  • Wild in the City: Exploring the Intertwine edited by Michael C. Houck & M.J. Cody
  • Walk There! 50 Treks In and Around Portland and Vancouver edited by Laura O. Foster

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.

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