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Wilson River Wagon Road Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

University Falls, just off the Wilson River Wagon Road Trail (bobcat)
Mossy glade, Wilson River Wagon Road (bobcat)
Trillium and beetles, Wilson River Wagon Road (bobcat)
Alders on old road bed, Side Step Trail (bobcat)
Route of the Wagon Road Hike, including the Side Step Trail (bobcat)
  • Start point: Deyoe Creek TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Stagecoach Horse Camp Trailhead
  • Hike Type: Lollipop loop
  • Distance: 11.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1800 feet
  • High Point: 1950 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

This hike has a relatively modest elevation gain for its length and follows the route of the 1890s Wilson River Wagon Trail, which serviced stagecoach and ox cart traffic between Tillamook and Forest Grove. There's a diversion to University Falls and you will cross several ATV tracks along the way although the din of the off-roaders is surprisingly muted by the lush forest. At times, you will have to walk along University Falls Road. Close to the Stagecoach Horse Camp Trailhead, which is another option for beginning this hike, there's a loop for the return using the Side Step Trail (See the link under Maps below for the brochure and trail map of this area).

From the Deyoe Creek Trailhead, take the trail heads along the east bank of the Devil’s Lake Fork of the Wilson River. Join the Nels Rogers Trail at a log footbridge and head up. Soon, there’s a spur trail that leads down to the creek for a view of a small waterfall tumbling into the creek. Continuing on the main trail, there are 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. Here the Nels Rogers Trail merges with 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. Pass over a footbridge and then a motorcycle track and enter a replanted clearcut. The trail heads up and then down to cross a stony ATV track. Then, the route rises in Douglas-fir, alder, and salal forest and meanders through a tranquil glade. Cross an ATV track and head down to a road. Walk across 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. The trail crosses Deyoe Creek in an alder bottom and then heads up in a Douglas-fir, alder, vine maple, oxalis, hemlock, and red huckleberry forest. Cross 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 an abandoned 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.

For the diversion to University Falls, take the Gravelle Brothers Trail 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. Return to University Falls Road after viewing the falls.

At the road, go right and walk down the gravel road, which may be humming with ATVs. Pass under the powerlines and cross Elliott Creek. The road rises and, 15 yards past the Powerline Motorcycle Trail, pick up the Wilson River Wagon Road Trail. The trail drops to the Wilson River Wagon Road-Side Step Trail Junction. Go right here and cross University Falls Road again. The trail levels below the road and then recrosses the road. Head up and switchback in a copse of silver and Douglas-firs. Keep up and then drop, recross the road and, 10 yards to the left, resume the trail. Come to the unmarked Wilson River Wagon Road-Horseshoe Trail Junction, the latter a short half mile trail down to Rutherford Road, and keep left here. The trail reaches University Falls Road and a sign says 0.2 miles to the Stagecoach Horse Camp. Head down to a creek and reach the horse camp. There’s an information kiosk and picnic tables here.

Return the same way to University Falls Road, and go right when you reach it. Walk to a junction. Here find the Side Step Trailhead, an alternative approach to this hike if you are beginning from the west. The sign says 1.7 miles to University Falls. The trail rises above an old road cutting and then heads through alders among blooming oxalis and violets. Rise up a salal/Douglas-fir hillside and over a ridge crest. Traverse a slope in denser woods, switchback, and head down in a quiet forest to the Wilson River Wagon Road-Side Step Trail Junction. Hike out to University Falls Road and return along the Wilson River Wagon Road Trail from near the University Falls Trailhead.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

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

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Best Hikes Near Portland by Fred Barstad (east section of trail)
  • More Oregon Trails and Horse Camps by Kim McCarrel
  • 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.

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