Tag Archives: Elk Creek Trail

Elk Creek Trail July 2020

Northwestern Garter Snake (Thamnophis ordinoides)

Another weekend and time to get out of the house. Jenny was on call this weekend and sticking close to home so she couldn’t hike. I decided to head back to the same area of the Tillamook State Forest and hike the Elk Creek Trail. No giant climb up a mountain or anything this time around. What I was searching for was a spot next to water to get some writing done.

I wasn’t to concerned with time so I slept in and took my time getting out to the forest that morning. It must have been around 11am by the time I started making my way to the park. Stopped for some coffee at Coava and then I was west bound along with everyone else. Thankfully I was headed out on 6 and everyone else was taking 26 to the coast. I had very little traffic to deal with that morning to the forest.

In no time I was in the same parking lot we used to hike up Elk Mountain. Today was a beautiful day so while a lot of people were headed to the beach people still were getting out into the forest. The campsite is closed but the lot outside the gate is available and was full. I ended up parking on the other side of the road. Took a minute to cross because of all the cars. It was nice to see so many people out enjoying the day. Just everyone wear a mask.

There is an option to cross Elk Creek and take another trail that follows along another creek run off from the mountains. This trail I think is only open part of the year. I have to look at the trail map again. But this would be a fourth hike to do in the same general area in addition to staying at the camp site which is pretty nice. First come first serve on the Elk Creek Campsite which is pretty cool.

The trail starts along the creek and follows it for a good long while. Elevation change isn’t that drastic early in the hike. You walk through an interesting area in the forest. Lots of underbrush along the creek. You can see some of the original trees before the forest was cut down and replanted years ago. One thing I noticed was an abundance of garter snakes. I kept coming upon them bathing in the sun, trying to get warm. They would freak me out when I finally saw them. Often they wouldn’t move till I was right on them which startled me as much as it did them.

Eventually the trail climbs up the mountain. The trail is longer but a less difficult way to reach the summit of Elk Mountain. Be aware that if you go this route you are probably hiking 5-8 miles or something like that. Eventually the sound of the creek fades away the higher into the mountain you get. Till you can’t hear it at all but you know it is there. Finally the trail wraps around a valley and continues up the mountain. The old logging road continues and the foot trail heads up the ridge line to the summit of Elk Mountain.

One of the better views across the valley. Most of the trail is tree covered but at the higher elevations now and again you get a decent view.

I continued on the logging road for a little longer. There was only one decent spot by the time I decided to turn around. A good view across the value but it was difficult to see for any length of time or get any sort of panoramic. I relaxed for a bit before starting my way down the mountain. For some parts near the top I ran as it was easier on my knees.

I was hoping to find a place to write on my way up but nothing jumped out at me. As I walked down the mountain I made a point of scoping out the creek once it became visible along the trail. Unfortunately the majority of the creek is difficult to get down to with steep cliffs preventing access. Where the trail splits is where I stopped to do some writing. I walked a little up the creek and found an uncomfortable rock to write on. It was getting late and I didn’t have much time to write.

When I made it back to my car I noticed a trail. This was a short couple hundred feet before it opened to a great section of the creek. Definitely a section that salmon run. Lots of flat sections to site with a fire while you fished. The creek is pretty deep in this section which I guess is a good place for the fish to gather before continuing up the creek. I wish I found this earlier as it was a really nice spot to get some writing done. Just pop open my chair and get writing. I would come back here just to write.

A long day in the forest but a really good one. The weather was good and I enjoyed the drive out and back from the forest. The hike was long which was something I enjoyed. It wasn’t much of an elevation change all at once which was also nice. At the beginning of the hike it is very tranquil with the creek right there. As that fades the height of the mountain starts to kick in. If you have the time and the stamina you can summit the mountain from this trail. Definitely worth coming back to check out the other trail along the split in the creek.