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Elk Mountain-Kings Mountain Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Revision as of 22:10, 23 March 2007 by SasquatchBot (Talk | contribs)

King's Mountain from the summit of Elk Mountain
Typical section of trail to Elk Mountain
Summit of Elk Mountain


Hike Description

Elk Mountain and King's Mountain are two popular hiking destinations in the Oregon Coast range. The trails are a little more rugged than typical Columbia Gorge or Mount Hood trails. They are lower elevation than Mount Hood hikes so they are possible in the winter when Mount Hood trails are snowed in.

There are two trailheads - Elk Mountain and King's Mountain, off highway 6 between Portland and Tillamook.

There are four hikes mentioned here - Elk Mountain Hike, King's Mountain Hike, Elk Mountain-King's Mountain Loop Hike, and Elk Creek Hike. These cover all the trail sections but you could obviously construct other combinations.

Carry water - there are (almost) no sources of water along the trails. This area is best for day hiking but the Elk Creek Hike mentions a possible backpack.

The Mazamas have adopted these trails, so they are well marked and well maintained.

You can start this loop at either the Elk Creek Trailhead or the King's Mountain Trailhead and you can go clockwise or counter-clockwise, this description arbitrarily chooses Elk Mountain counter-clockwise. To save the 3.5 mile Wilson River Trail return you could do a car shuttle. Another obvious loop would be up Elk Mountain and down Elk Creek (8.5 miles, 2600' gain, see Elk Creek Hike for a description of that section).

The 11 miles of this loop is "longer than that" because of the difficulty of the trail so allocate enough time to complete it.

Start just past the Elk Creek Campground. The road continues, over a bridge, to a parking area. There are two trails out of the trailhead - Take the Elk Mountain/Wilson River Trails up. There's a good sign. The other trail, the Elk Creek Trail follows the road past a closed gate.

After about 0.2 mile, there's another junction. Take the Elk Mountain Trail up. The other trail, the Wilson River Trail continues straight and fairly level. Again, there's a good sign. You will be returning on the Wilson River Trail.

From here, the trail is fairly rugged, as the picture attempts to show. You probably have to use your hands at a few places. The trail goes up and down a bit over small knolls. During the winter in can be snowy, and after rain it can be muddy making it almost impassable.

As you go along the trail, there are progressively better views down to the road, toward King's Mountain, and the rest of the Coast range.

There is a sign and log box at the summit. There's a fairly large level area to soak in the views and rest.

Don't rest long because you have a long way to go. Continue on the trail past the summit.

This next section of trail is very steep and rugged, one of the worst trail sections of any Northwest trail. This is the worst part of the loop so if you can get by here, you can probably do the rest.

The trail follows along old logging roads. It's sort of overgrown and difficult to follow. Carefully look for the best route. After a while the trail opens up to nice views.

At mile 3.6 is the three way junction (2978'). You are coming in from the Southeast from Elk Mountain. You want to take the trail to King's Mountain to the Southwest. Another trail, to the Elk Creek Trail goes to the Northwest. There is a good sign showing the way.

If you were tired, you could take the Elk Creek Trail back to the trailhead, in 4.8 miles, see Elk Creek Hike making a 8.4 mile loop.

At mile 4.9 you reach King's Mountain (3205'), the high point of the hike, again nice views.

From here the trail goes steeply down through forest, some views near the top. At mile 7.3 (1000') is a junction, the low point of the hike. You want to take the Wilson River Trail, East, back to the Elk Creek Trail where you began. If you go straight at the junction, in 0.1 mile you reach the King's Mountain Trailhead (700'). If you did a car shuttle, you could end here.

Follow the Wilson River Trail back to the Elk Creek Trailhead from where you started, total of 11 miles. This last section is fairly level, easy, through forest. You can hear the Wilson River Highway (state highway 6) a short distance away through the trees.

There were significant washouts of the Wilson River Trail November 2006 making it impassable. As of February 2006 it was still closed but they are working on repairing it.


Map of Elk Mountain/King's Mountain area

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Northwest Forest Pass required

Trip Reports

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Related Discussions / Q&A

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Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 60 Hikes within 60 Miles of Portland, by Paul Gerald

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.