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Elk Mountain to Elk Creek Loop

Very Difficult
 4.0 (2) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A very tough hike up to the summit of Elk Mountain and then a gentle downhill hike back to the trailhead.


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Map Key

8.0

Miles

12.8

KM

Loop

3,103' 946 m

High

893' 272 m

Low

2,594' 791 m

Up

2,622' 799 m

Down

12%

Avg Grade (7°)

90%

Max Grade (42°)

Dogs Leashed

Features River/Creek · Views

Overview

This loop will take you straight up the side of Elk Mountain on a very steep, difficult, and rocky trail. After caching your breath and taking in the amazing views at the top, descend to the ridgeline and follow it north before turning and taking the Elk Creek drainage back down on an old road grade through alder and Douglas fir forests.

Need to Know

Elk Creek Trail is adjacent to Elk Creek Campground which has vault toilets.

Description

Elk Mountain Trail is a very difficult trail that leads straight up a knife edge ridge and involves more a little rock scrambling and ladder-like climbing up rocky ledges. The trail is at times hardly more than a suggestion, but when you do get to the top and catch your breath, the views are well-worth it.

Rather than turn around and head back down the steep rocky ridge, continue on and follow the ridgeline north-west towards Kings Mountain. The trail is still rough and rocky, but levels out and travels through some beautiful alder groves and Douglas fir forest. At the junction with Kings Mountain Trail, continue northwest and follow the old road bed down from the ridgeline.

Elk Creek Trail begins where Elk Mountain Trail reaches another old road that turns sharply south and follows Elk Creek downhill. After a few different sets of switchbacks the trail parallels the creek for a while before joining the Wilson River Trail. The road grade is gentle and wide, providing a nice and easy return to the trailhead.

This route is a nice way to summit Elk Mountain without having to take the same trail downhill, which is even trickier than going up do to the extremely steep and rocky nature of the trail. The gentle downhill is a relief on your burning thigh muscles and makes it into a full afternoon of hiking.

Contacts

Land Manager: Tillamook State Forest

Shared By:

Samantha Goodwin

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 2 votes

#3673

Overall
  4.0 from 2 votes
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Recommended Route Rankings

#111

in Oregon

#3,673

Overall
7 Views Last Month
111 Since Jan 26, 2021
Very Difficult

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Photos

A wooden sign says "Elk Creek Trail" next to a trail that goes along a stream, which has a bridge across it.
Jan 26, 2021 near Banks, OR
You'll know you have made it when you see the sign.
Jun 1, 2018 near Banks, OR
A dirt trail goes through the forest, bordered by alders and thimbleberry bushes.
Jan 26, 2021 near Banks, OR
Hiking Elk Mountain Trail
Jun 20, 2020 near Banks, OR
A wide dirt track or road leads through douglas fir.
Jan 26, 2021 near Banks, OR

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Check-Ins

Feb 28, 2021
Marit Rinke
Definitely deserving of the double black diamond rating, especially considering the amount of snow/ice on the trail at this time of year. 8.8mi — 5h 45m