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

University Falls Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

The Devil's Lake Fork, Nels Rogers Trail (bobcat)
No Motorcycles sign, Nels Rogers Trail (bobcat)
Trillium and beetles, Wilson River Wagon Road (bobcat)
University Falls, Gravelle Brothers Trail (bobcat)
Wild ginger (Asarum caudatum), Gravelle Brothers Trail (bobcat)
Sketch of the loop route from Roger Camp (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Topo
  • Start point: Rogers Camp TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: University Falls
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 8.0 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1275 feet
  • High Point: 1910 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes, for older kids
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

NOTICE: As of January 2023, the Gravelle Brothers Trail is closed in its entirety because of a timber sale. You won't be able to complete this trail as a loop until the logging is done.

It is difficult to recommend a trail that shares the same sections of the forest as noisy off-road vehicles, and yet a certain live-and-let-live ethic has permeated this part of the Tillamook State Forest. The off-roaders do not intrude on the hiker trails and the marriage seems to be working. Beginning at the Rogers Camp Trailhead, you might note that your single vehicle stands out among the many large rigs and trailers. Once on the trail, however, the presence of ATVs is much muted. Sounds are dulled by the enveloping woodland and, although you will cross ATV tracks throughout this loop hike, you may not actually see an off-roader until you get close to Rogers Camp again. That said, the best times for hikers to go are during the week at any time of the year, or on the weekend after a deep winter snow. On quiet days, elk could be out in the early morning or evening anywhere along the route. University Falls is the highlight of the loop although the forest is brilliantly green in the spring and Elliott Creek and the Devil's Lake Fork of the Wilson River are two of the most enchanting forest spates you will see.

Three trails are used to make this loop. From Rogers Camp, you will take the Nels Rogers Trail, named after a state forester who supervised replanting of this area in the late 1940s after the Tillamook Burn. The next part of the route will be a section of the 1890s Wilson River Wagon Trail, which saw stagecoach and ox cart traffic between Tillamook and the Valley. The last section, from University Falls back to Rogers Camp, is named after the Gravelle Brothers, Elroy and Edmund, who were intensively involved in trail construction in this area. (See the link under Maps below for the brochure and trail map of this hike.)

From the Rogers Camp Trailhead, find the Nels Rogers Trail beginning near the restroom. Signposting is very good along this trail system. Walk along in Douglas-fir, hemlock, cedar, alder, salal, and red huckleberry woods. The trail rises and then drops through a clearcut to cross an ATV track. Rise again, cross a road, and then drop down in Douglas-fir woods to cross a footbridge at a skunk-cabbage swamp. Huge stumps dot the woods. Descend above the Devils Lake Fork of the Wilson River. At a trail junction, go right out to Beaver Dam Road and cross the Devils Lake Fork to the Deyoe Creek Trailhead. Pick up the trail leading left after the bridge, and pass a spur trail that leads down to the river for a view of a small waterfall tumbling into the spate. Continuing on the main trail, you will get views of the Devil’s Lake Fork meandering through a grassy vale once shaded by big cedars. At an old trail junction, you can go left down to this valley (intentionally felled trees block the way for ORVs), with its false hellebores and skunk-cabbage. Back on the main trail again, pass through a copse of grand fir and cross a footbridge. The trail levels in Douglas-fir woods. Cross Beaver Dam Road at a campsite and begin the Wilson River Wagon Road Trail at the Nels Rogers-Wilson River Wagon Road Trail Junction.

Cross another track under powerlines and wind through mossy woods. Walk over a footbridge and then a motorcycle track and enter a replanted clearcut. The trail heads up and then down to cross a stony ORV track. Then, the trail rises in Douglas-fir, alder, and salal forest and through a tranquil glade. Cross another ATV track and head down to a road. Reach Saddle Mountain Road and go right for 160 yards before resuming the trail above a skunk-cabbage swamp. The trail descends to Beaver Dam Road and crosses it. You will cross Deyoe Creek in an alder bottom and then head up in a Douglas-fir, alder, vine maple, oxalis, hemlock, red huckleberry forest. Hike across a wide footbridge over a swamp and keep up. A spur left leads to the road. The trail drops to a road, crosses it, and leads gently down to cross a road bed. The path crosses a creek and then passes through an alder bottom along Elliott Creek. Then it continues on the level to reach University Falls Road at the Wilson River Wagon Road-Gravelle Brothers Trail Junction.

The hiker’s trail resumes across the road to the right of the Powerline Motorcycle Trail. The path heads up to the left in a salal thicket, passing the spur to the University Falls Trailhead. It crosses a motorcycle trail and then a dirt road. The trail heads down in lush woods to the Gravelle Brothers-University Falls Trail Junction. Here you go left past a painted sign for University Falls (another left spur leads to Elliott Creek). Pass alders bent and snapped by winter snowstorms and proceed along this short, trillium-lined trail to the 60-foot falls. There may be a lot of spray and it's difficult to get a good photo in this cold shaded pocket (Close-ups are best). The falls shrink to a mere trickle by about mid-summer, so winter and spring are the best times to see them. Back to the junction, the Gravelle Brothers Trail continues into a clearcut. From here, it’s 2.3 miles to Rogers Camp. The trail passes through an alder bottom with fire-scarred stumps and crosses a small creek before traversing up a steep slope above Elliott Creek. The path loops around the top of a low ridge and then begins a descent into lush woods. Then there’s a long traverse among red alder, oxalis, and sword fern. The path crosses another creek and descends to cross the Devil’s Lake Fork on a log bridge. Head up to the unmarked Storey Burn-Gravelle Brothers Trail Junction and go right. The trail switchbacks up to another junction. Keep right and reach an old road bed. Then you'll head left up the road under Douglas-firs, alders and cedars to pass around the right side of an ODOT depot with its gravel piles and sheds. When you reach the FB1 (Fire Break 1) Road near Highway 6, turn right and then go left along the road to the busy parking area at Rogers Camp.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Restrooms at trailhead
  • Share trail with mountain bikers
  • Share forest with ATV users and target shooters

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Hiking from Portland to the Coast by James D. Thayer
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • 75 Hikes in Oregon's Coast Range and Siskiyous by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • Best Hikes Near Portland by Fred Barstad
  • Take a Hike: Portland by Barbara I. Bond
  • 50 Hikes in the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests by the Sierra Club, Oregon Chapter
  • 50 Hikes in the Tillamook State Forest by the Tillamook State Forest Committee, Columbia Group Sierra Club
  • Mountain Biking Oregon: Northwest and Central Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • Mountain Biking: Portland by Scott Rapp
  • Kissing the Trail by John Zilly
  • Oregon Coast Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Waterfall Lover's Guide: Pacific Northwest by Gregory A. Plumb (University Falls)

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.