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Smith Homestead Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Kings Mountain and the Wilson River from the Smith Homestead site (bobcat)
Alders along an overflow channel of the Wilson River, Smith Homestead (bobcat)
Oak in the meadow, Smith Homestead site (bobcat)
  • Start point: Smith Homestead TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Smith Homestead Meadow
  • Trail log:
  • Hike Type: In and out + small loop
  • Distance: 0.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 20 feet
  • High Point: 555 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

This day-use area is the best pit stop along Highway 6 and the short interpretive trail allows you to stretch your legs. There are picnic tables and restrooms as well as a building that can be rented for events. In summer, the Wilson River here is calm enough to permit safe swimming at a looping bend in its course; during heavy winter rains, it becomes a wide, spreading torrent that will flood parts of the trail. The site is just upriver from the Tillamook Forest Center and across the river from the Jones Creek Campground.

The land here was settled by Walter and Isaac Smith in 1886. The Smiths and their families built a home, planted fruit trees, and harvested timber from the nearby hills. In 1893, the Wilson River Wagon Road, a toll road, opened up the Wilson River/Gales Creek valleys for regular stagecoach travel between the Willamette Valley and Tillamook Bay, and Walter and Alice Smith capitalized by turning their homestead into an inn for travelers. The toll for two days of travel (not counting a stay at the inn) was $1.50. The trail described below leads to the old homestead site in a meadow.

The wide Meadow Trail begins at the east end of the parking area under cedars, hemlocks, big-leaf maple, red alder and Douglas-fir. At a junction, keep left and walk into an open area ringed by maples. Walk above an overflow channel of the Wilson River which is flowing through a large alder grove. Enter the main meadow, which often floods in times of heavy rain. You may even find a spawned out steelhead decaying in the grassy expanse! At the former homestead site, a lone oak stands sentinel next to a tiny fenced square of berry bushes (The meadow area has been restored as for many years it was the site of a campground). The Wilson River braids here: look for mergansers speeding down with the current and for spawning steeled when the waters are calm and clear.

Head back to the junction and go left on the Wetland Overview Trail. This winds among alders and mossy maples with licorice fern and cedars. Pass a huge stump and come out at the parking area. In the middle of the parking area, there are a couple of interpretive panels telling about the history of the site. You can also walk to the river and around the front of the learning center, where you'll find a salmon interpretive sign. When the water levels are up, fierce rapids plough the riverbed below.


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Oregon Department of Forestry: Tillamook State Forest Map & Guide

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Dogs on leash
  • Restrooms, picnic tables, interpretive signs
  • Campground nearby at Jones Creek

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • none

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.