Home  •   Field Guide  •   Forums  •    Unread Posts  •   Maps  •   Find a Hike!
| Page | Discussion | View source | History | Print Friendly and PDF

South Molalla River Trails Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

This page is marked as a Closed Hike. Some or all of this hike has been closed by a governing body and hikers may be liable for fines or even arrest. At least part of this route may be dangerous and hard to follow, or it may cross areas with sensitive plant life or wildlife habitat. Trailkeepers of Oregon does not endorse or recommend hiking this route. When restrictions are lifted, this notice will be removed.
Rim Trail-Fern Creek Trail Junction, Molalla River Recreation Area (bobcat)
Sulfur shelf fungus, Rim Trail (bobcat)
Gnarly big-leaf maple, Rim Trail (bobcat)
Annie's Cabin, Huckleberry Road (bobcat)
The loop described is outlined in red (bobcat) Courtesy: Bureau of Land Management
  • Start point: Hardy Creek TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Annie's Cabin
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 9.9 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1375 feet
  • High Point: 1,480 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes, for older children
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No



NOTICE: Trails in this area were affected by the 2020 Beachie Creek Fire. Please check on current closures with the Bureau of Land Management's Northwest Oregon District Office before planning an outing.

A maze of trails and forest roads leads around the secondary mixed forest of the Molalla River Recreation Area, which is administered by the Bureau of Land Management. The area is open all year to hikers, horses, and mountain bikes, but the trails are closed to equestrians and bikes from October 15th through April 15th. For hikers, the best time to make use of this area might be on a rainy fall weekend after October 15th, when you could be the only users (Hunters are not allowed in this area). While there can be active logging operations throughout the year, this is done on weekdays and a good fall offers a variety of fungi popping up through the forest floor. There are many trails and roads and thus many options, including a number of shorter loops. This loop makes maximum use of the southern part of the recreation area and keeps to trails, rather than roads, as much as possible.

From the trailhead parking area, which may be mostly taken up with large horse trailers on a weekend, head up the Hardy Creek Trail on a road bed. Pass a donation box in a bottomland of western red-cedar, big-leaf maple, Pacific willow, and Oregon ash. Douglas-fir, western hemlock, and grand fir enter the mix as you rise up the hillside. At the junction with Huckleberry Road, go right for 70 yards, and then go left up another road bed, which is the Rim Trail.

Reach the ridge crest above rushing Hardy Creek, which runs on private property here. Keep rising in the secondary forest and note the large stumps and frequent thatch ant nests, a feature of the forest here. Pass the junction with the Deer Skull Trail (This is where you will end the loop) and keep going as the trail narrows on the road bed in an understory of sword fern, Oregon grape, hazel, and salal. The trail runs along a fence with a Christmas tree farm on the right. Cross a footbridge in a salmonberry thicket and head into a Douglas-fir plantation. Pass the junction with the Fern Creek Trail and rise gradually. The trail undulates along an old fence line and reaches the road bed and junction with the Loop Trail. Keep right and soon drop into a bracken clearing and pass a junction with the Bear Woods Loop. Walk under alders and take the Rim Trail as it heads off the road bed to the right.

Pass a squat but ancient spreading maple and drop past another junction with the Bear Woods Loop. There’s a Douglas-fir plantation to the right and you drop steeply on a rocky tread to cross a small creek. Head up out of the gully and then drop again to cross another creek. Drop into a third gully and head along the boundary of a partial cut. Cross a boardwalk and rise to the junction with Bobcat Road.

Keep right on the Red Vole Trail. There are clearcuts on the hillsides to the right. Drop through more open Douglas-fir woods and reach the Red Vole Road, a conduit for active logging operations. Go left here and continue to drop, passing the junction with the Bobcat Road and going left at the next junction, which puts you on the Huckleberry Trail, the main north-south forest road in the recreation area.

At the next junction, go left, which takes you off the logging access road, but keeps you on Huckleberry Road. Pass the Squirrel Creek Trail. Cross a rushing creek shaded by red-cedar, alder, and maple. Drop slightly under some tall cottonwoods. Soon reach Annie's Cabin, a little one-room structure that visitors are welcome to use. Inside, a little panel tells that Annie Miller, Jim Williams, and Annie’s daughter Squirrel lived here in the early 1990s while they worked as volunteers on cleaning up the area and brushing out the trails. Jim Williams died in October, 1993, and Annie and Squirrel soon moved out. The cabin was used as a living room, while the family slept and cooked in a trailer parked next to it. There’s picnic table outside the cabin.

After Annie's Cabin, reach the junction with the Fern Creek Trail, and turn off on this trail, which winds up through a wonderful understory of vine maple and sword fern. Reach the Loop Trail, a road bed, head up 20 yards, and resume the Fern Creek Trail. Cross a couple of trickling brooks and pass along the boundaries of partial cuts. The trail undulates and crosses the Rim Tie Trail before meeting the Loop Trail road again. Continue of the Fern Creek Trail, winding up through a sword fern carpet to the junction with the Deer Skull Trail.

Go right on this trail and make a traverse on a new trail bench. Drop a little and see Huckleberry Road below. Rise and then drop again to a junction with a short tie trail leading down to the road (You could take this route to shorten the hike a little). The trail rises and falls and rises again to an old road bed. Make a traverse and swing left to meet the Rim Trail (The north section of the Deer Skull Trail, shown on area maps, has been decommissioned). Go right on the Rim Trail and return to Huckleberry Road and thence down the Hardy Creek Trail to the trailhead.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Trails closed to mountain bikes and horses October 15th - April 15th. Forest roads are open to all users all year.


Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Off the Beaten Trail by Matt Reeder
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain (covers a shorter loop)
  • Mountain Biking: Portland by Scott Rapp
  • Kissing the Trail by John Zilly
  • Mountain Biking Oregon: Northwest and Central Oregon by Lizann Dunegan

More Links

Page 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.