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King's Mountain Hike

From Portland Hikers Field Guide

There is a sign and log box at the King's Mountain summit (Jerry Adams)
Okay, maybe that's not the ocean but it looked like it to me (Jerry Adams)
You can also see Mount Hood from the King's Mountain summit, although on this day it was too cloudy (Jerry Adams)
  • Start point: King's Mountain TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: King's Mountain
  • Trail log: Trail Log
  • Distance: 5 miles round trip
  • Elevation gain: 2500 feet
  • High Point: 3226 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: spring, summer, fall, possible in the winter
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: A little busy summer weekends

Contents

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. In the spring (late May to early June) King's Mountain features an abundance of wildflowers including beargrass, paintbrush, penstemon, phlox, and the rare phantom orchid.

There is one trail out of the trailhead. At 0.1 mile, reach the Wilson River-King's Mountain Trail Junction. Take the King's Mountain Trail straight ahead. East on the Wilson River Trail goes to the Elk Creek Trailhead. West goes to the Jones Creek, Footbridge, and Keenig Creek Trailheads.

The trail heads gradually up under alders and switchbacks at a view of a rushing creek. Then the path winds up steeply on a ridge before dropping and crossing the head of a small gully. The trail rises gradually. Sword fern dominates the understory. Head up a ridge with a rushing creek to the left and then walk on the level in Douglas-fir woods. There are big stumps in these woods: the area was logged before the Tillamook Burn. The path rises gradually under alders, heads up an old road bed, and then switchbacks in an alder grove. The trail drops slightly on a road bed and passes a short cut up to the left. Wind up, with a creek on the right, and pass the 2,000’ level. The trail makes a level traverse and passes an old road bed shortcut dropping down steeply to the left. The path makes a major switchback at the Kings Mountain-Kings Mountain Junior Trail Junction. Continue on a level section past a 0.63 miles to the summit sign and then steeply up to where the gradient eases again. Keep up past the 2,500’ level sign and wind up steeply, including going up some rock “steps.” A spur leads left 60’ to a viewpoint of the west ridge. The trail keeps up steeply in mainly Douglas-fir woods and passes a picnic table. Exit the woods and pass the 3,000’ elevation sign. Rise through meadows. There’s a view of Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams through the trees before you reach the summit. Sign in at the summit register if you wish; the elevation, 3,226’, is posted. There is a great view overlooking the Lester Creek valley and points southwest from here.

The trail is fairly rugged, but not generally as steep as the Elk Mountain Trail. During the winter it can be snowy, and after rain it can be muddy and slick. If you want a very strenuous hike, the trail continues: see the Elk Mountain-King's Mountain Loop Hike.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • none

Maps

Map of Elk Mountain/King's Mountain area

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland, by Paul Gerald
  • 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Oregon Coast & Coast Range by William L. Sullivan
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • 75 Scrambles in Oregon by Barbara I. Bond
  • 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
  • 100 Classic Hikes in Oregon by Douglas Lorain
  • 50 Hikes in the Tillamook State Forest by the Tillamook State Forest Committee, Columbia Group Sierra Club
  • 50 Hiking Trails: Portland and Northwest Oregon by Don and Roberta Lowe
  • 100 Oregon Hiking Trails by Don and Roberta Lowe
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill

More Links

Contributors

Portland 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.