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Corvallis, OR: Horse Creek Trail

Massive, mossy trees lend a fairy tale air to this 7.1-mile out-and-back through the Drift Creek Wilderness and one of the Oregon coast’s last remaining stands of old growth.

Rating

This easy dayhike in the 5,800-acre Drift Creek Wilderness begins on a high, forested ridge a few hours south of Portland (and only a few miles from the rugged coastline). After a short warm-up along timber-harvest areas of the Siuslaw National Forest, the trail plunges into a mystical woodland of Sitka spruce, hemlock, and Douglas fir, with the largest trees bulging to 10 feet in diameter. Huge ferns blanket the forest floor, and moss hangs from the 400-year-old trees. The path is well-maintained along the ridge but just past mile 2, the trail turns downhill where it begins a steep, switchbacking descent toward Drift Creek.
Though the trails are marked and maintained, there are sections encroached by renegade foliage. Watch for poison ivy as well as resident black bear, elk, bald eagles and northern spotted owls—this is prime territory for all of them. The descent mellows about a quarter mile from a creek-side campsite. If you’ve got time to spare consider an overnight to enjoy salmon or trout fishing before retracing your tracks on the climb to the trailhead.
Note: With 120 inches of rain annually, this rainforest lives up to its wet-weather expectations. Be prepared for a damp hike, even in mid summer, and don’t plan to ford the creek in early spring or after heavy rains.
-Mapped by Steve Johnson

To Trailhead

From Corvallis, take OR 20 50 miles west and turn south onto US 101 for roughly 8.5 miles. Turn left at Beaver Creek Rd. and continue 3.8 miles. Turn right onto Elk Horn Rd. (FR 51) and drive 5.9 miles. Turn left onto FR 50 for 1.4 miles. Turn right onto FR 5087 and drive 3.5 miles to trailhead.

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