“The Salmon River Trail stretches over 14 miles across the heart of the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness.
— Kathleen Walker
Fall Colors · River/Creek · Spring · Waterfall · Wildflowers
The lower section of Salmon River is accessible most of the year. Trail park pass required. Caution:
Numerous user trails head out to rocky headlands above waterfalls. A few appear to head down towards the falls. There is no safe trail access to the falls. Some of these user trails may offer better partial views of the waterfalls, but considerable care and caution should be used as the moss and grass are not firmly attached to the rock underneath! Falls and fatalities have occurred here.
The popular 14-mile Salmon River Trail crosses the heart of the Salmon Huckleberry Wilderness, but most folks hike up 3-5 miles and turn around for a nice day trip. The first two miles are fairly flat followed by two steeper miles to viewpoints. It's lower elevations makes it accessible nearly year-round.
The first section of trail is fairly narrow where the river has cut into the bank. The rest of the trail is wider with more distance to the river. Next you come to a side channel of the river reopened by the Forest Service to improve salmon habitat. On the far side of the channel is a large flat grove of old growth along the river shoreline. Next is the second narrow section that skirts the rocky shoreline with a deep pool of the Salmon River. Look out for namesake fish.
Stay on the trail to the first bridge at milepost one. The trail continues along the river with a view across the river of Big Horn Creek, a larger tributary coming in to the flow. Another 1/3 of a mile and you reach Rolling Riffle where there are some dispersed campsites. Just beyond the campsites is the two mile point where another bridge crosses a tributary, followed by the wilderness boundary, a trailhead board and wilderness permit box.
After this, the trail begins a steady climb up and away from the river. At the three plus mile point, there is a side trail off the main trail to the right that brings you out of the forest and into a series of large moss covered rocky outcrops with viewpoints. From here, you can hear the roar and catch a glimpse of Final Falls and Frustration Falls upstream. Continue hiking on the side loop in and out of openings. Vanishing Falls is the next waterfalls upstream. See caution below about outcropping cliffs.
Get back onto the main trail and at milepost 4.7, you reach Goat Creek, another popular turnaround point or camping spot. For those who continue, the trail continues to climb well away from the river, passing the Kinzel Lake Trail #665
on your left and dropping and climbing out of side drainages. At about the eight-mile mark, the trail nears the river and Linney Creek Trail #499
will drop you to the river. Continue on Salmon River as it parallels the river sometimes within access to the water until you reach milepost 10.5. At this point, the much less used trail veers from the river and after another mile, it heads due north away from the river with a steady 10% grade 1.6 mile climb to the trailhead located south of Trillium
Flora & Fauna
The lower section travels through old growth forests with large Douglas fir, western red cedar, and western hemlocks. Sword fern, deer fern, maiden hair fern and a carpet of oxalis keep everything green. Trilliums, false solomon seal, and fawn lily are common in spring. Rhododendron, salal and Oregon grape are found throughout the upper reaches of trail. The rocky outcroppings have penstemon, lupine and a variety of summer wildflowers and fall colors.