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Storey Burn Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Sword fern and Douglas-fir slopes on the Gales Creek Trail (bobcat)
Coastal reindeer lichen (Cladonia portentosa), Storey Burn Trail (bobcat)
Under the Devils Fork Bridge, Storey Burn Trail (bobcat)
Big cedar stump on the Storey Burn Trail (bobcat)
Waterfall on the Storey Burn Trail (bobcat)
Route of the Storey Burn Loop Hike (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Topo
  • Start point: Summit TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Storey Burn Trailhead
  • Trail log:
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 8.1 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1450 feet
  • High Point: 1,890 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Hike Description

The area of Rogers Camp on Highway 6, with its lower elevations, offers all year hiking opportunities when other destinations may be under deep snow. This loop is a well-signposted forested hike with numerous creek crossings and a couple of small waterfalls. You will share the trail with mountain bikers, but it is likely you will not meet another soul although, to offer full disclosure, there may be target shooters in the vicinity of Storey Burn Road and, close to Rogers Camp, the roar of ATVs might drown the twitter of chickadees. Quiet time will dominate, however. There are several trailheads in the vicinity. The route described below begins at the Summit Trailhead and follows the Gales Creek Trail down to the Storey Burn Trail before rising again to the ridge that divides the Willamette and coastal watersheds (See the link under Maps below).

Note: The first section of the Gales Creek Trail from the Summit Trailhead has two reroutes in the works, one by a mountain biker group and the other by Trailkeepers of Oregon, that keep the trail higher up the slope from Low Divide Creek. As of Winter 2019, these sections had not been opened to the public.

From the Summit Trailhead, the Gales Creek Trail descends in Douglas-fir woods down an old road bed. Low Divide Creek runs below to the left. Oregon grape, sword fern, and salal form the understory. Cross a footbridge and wind steeply down to the valley floor, where large alders stand over the creek. After crossing another footbridge, head up and traverse above a soggy alder bottomland. There’s a third footbridge and before the route heads down above the creek. You might notice old beaver dams that have caused the creek to spread out, but there are no signs of recent activity. The trail rises and then drops to a footbridge and wends down through salmonberry thickets. Head into an alder-filled bowl and wind down, passing over a small creek. Make an undulating traverse with alders on the left and Douglas-firs with some cedars and hemlocks on the right. Cross another creek. Large stumps in the woods here give you a flavor of the magnificent old growth that once graced these slopes. This area was also near the center of the first big Tillamook Burn in 1933 and was also scorched in the 1939 and 1945 burns. Reach the Gales Creek-Low Divide Creek Loop Trail Junction where a sign says the Gales Creek Campground is 0.2 miles.

Go left at the junction and descend along Low Divide Creek to another junction and a railed footbridge across the creek. There is the option of going right at the junction before the bridge and heading above the right bank of the creek: This would take you to the campground road, whence you can walk downhill to the Gales Creek Trailhead. Otherwise, take the graveled trail to the left that heads gently down through a thicket of salmonberry, devil’s club, and vine maple to reach the Gales Creek Trailhead.

The Gales Creek Trail resumes from this parking area, where you'll also see a plaque honoring Randy Hodges, a contracted trail worker who was killed by a large boulder while working on the Gales Creek Trail farther upstream. Continue above Gales Creek in red alder woods which transition to Douglas-firs. There are views of the upper part of Gales Creek Campground across the way. Some of the devastation of big Gales Creek floods is evident in the massive gravel bars and stacked logs below. The trail drops and passes the single old-growth tree along the entire route, a snapped-off Douglas-fir that has somehow survived the decades of logging and fires. Fire-blackened snags jut up in the woodland around. The trail winds down and keeps descending to a creek to cross another bridge at the Gales Creek-Storey Burn Trail Junction. Go left here.

The Storey Burn Trail rises above an alder-shaded valley. Below is the confluence of two creeks, but above is the edge of a recent clearcut. The trail veers right and rises in Douglas-fir, Oregon grape, salal, and sword fern forest. Another creek confluence appears below with a nice waterfall visible in winter’s leafless view. The trail drops to cross one of the creeks below a small waterfall, rises, switchbacks and winds up past a large boulder below a mossy rock face. The path crosses below a waterfall with a second tier below the trail, and then traverses up a steep hillside. It meets an old road bed and levels for a short time. Leaving the road bed, the path rises gently up a creek valley and drops to cross the creek before rising again through a small regenerating clearcut. From here, it’s a gradual rise to Storey Burn Road. Cross the road, and follow the trail to the parking area at the Storey Burn Trailhead.

The trail resumes behind an information board. Another trail leads off an old road to the left of this. This is the Sichter Lars Trail, for mountain bikes only. From here, it’s 2.0 miles to the Gravelle Brothers Trail. The path keeps on the level into a gully, rises and then levels on an open hillside planted with western white pine. There are open views for the only time on this loop. You can see across the Drift Creek drainage to Larch Mountain and other peaks. The path goes in and out of a gully and levels high above Drift Creek. Then the trail drops into Douglas-fir woods to cross a small footbridge etched with the Portland United Mountain Pedalers moniker. Keep dropping below the Graham Bridge, which carries Highway 6 over the Devils Lake Fork of the Wilson River. Hike along a steep Scots broom-infested slope above the Devils Lake Fork and spot the long ATV bridge below. Cross the Elliott Creek ATV Trail and enter an alder, big-leaf maple, cottonwood bottomland studded with massive cedar stumps and exhibiting much elk sign. Come to a tie trail leading to the Storey Burn-Gravelle Brothers Trail Junction, and stay left.

It’s 0.8 miles to Rogers Camp. Head up a slope forested with red-cedar and Douglas-fir above an Oregon grape/sword fern carpet, and come to the second junction with the Gravelle Brothers Trail, where you go left. The trail rises to a road bed. Go left up the road as it ascends to the concrete barrier-rimmed ODOT gravel yard. Follow along the barrier to reach Beaver Dam Road below the Rogers Camp Trailhead. Walk out to Highway 6, and keep to the right side of the road until you cross to the Summit Trailhead and your vehicle.


Maps

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Share trail with mountain bikers

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • Kissing the Trail by John Zilly

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.