Portland, OR: Elk Mountain-Kings Mountain Traverse

4 trails link together to create a brutal loop dayhike in the Oregon Coast Range.
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4 trails link together to create a brutal loop dayhike in the Oregon Coast Range.

Beginning at Elk Creek Campground (closed in winter, adding 0.5 miles to each end of the hike) start with a difficult climb. Ascend 1860 feet in 1.66 miles to the summit of Elk Mountain. But don't stop there! Take in amazing views of the Coast Range, then continue down the backside of Elk losing and regaining hundreds of feet of elevation several times as you cross the traverse to King's Mountain Summit 3 country miles away. Be warned: You will need hands and feet at times to scramble along this trail. Not recommended if there is any ice!

( An Alternate option exists of looping with Elk Creek, for those who find this cross between mountains too much).

Strong knees, heart, and lungs are required on this one; once you reach the summit of Kings, descend 2465 feet over 2.1 miles to the junction with the Wilson River Trail. You can leave a car here for a shuttle, or for those who just haven't had enough - hike another 3.87 miles back to your car along the creek. The first half of this is a pleasant enough stroll, but then you gain another 500 feet of elevation again after the third bridge crossing. Bring plenty of fuel.

-Mapped by Echo Hobbs

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 16.9

Waypoints

Trailhead Elk Creek

Location: 45.607206, -123.461671

23-JAN-10 8:33:08AM

Elk climb - pic

Location: 45.614157, -123.481607

It's hard work!

Elk climb - pic

Location: 45.616169, -123.483367

Mist rising through the mountains

Elk climb pic

Location: 45.616139, -123.483946

The road (your starting point) far below

Elk summit - pic

Location: 45.616259, -123.485363

Amazing rewards

Summit Elk Mt.

Location: 45.616289, -123.484912

23-JAN-10 10:26:14AM

Elk descent - pic

Location: 45.616604, -123.485137

A steep drop down the backside

Junction - Sign

Location: 45.620304, -123.484267

23-JAN-10 10:56:38AM

To continue on to King's Mountain, bear left at this three way junction.

Elk Mt Kings Mt junction pic

Location: 45.620303, -123.48429

Road

Location: 45.626186, -123.502663

Don't let the "road" fool you -- an old logging trail? The forest has been fast at work reclaiming this so that not even an off road vehicle would have room. But it makes for an awfully nice trail.

Rope

Location: 45.620382, -123.511956

23-JAN-10 12:08:52PM
Rope to assist in a particularly steep section

Rope - pic

Location: 45.620431, -123.511997

Descend with caution

Elk to Kings Mt trail - pic

Location: 45.620394, -123.512029

Yes, it IS that steep. A lot.

Kings mt ascent

Location: 45.616754, -123.514454

switchbacks

Summit King's Mt.

Location: 45.614548, -123.513966

3225 ft

Summit Kings Mt - pic

Location: 45.614563, -123.514046

Kings Mt descent - pic

Location: 45.614383, -123.514094

Begin a steep descent, and head into dense Oregon forest.

Junction Kings Mt Trailhead

Location: 45.598696, -123.507357

Bear left at this three way junction to continue on the river trail, or continue straight to reach the Kings Mountain trailhead parking lot.

Bridge

Location: 45.598868, -123.5074

Oregon Henge

Location: 45.601455, -123.504218

A ring of stones placed for unknown reasons

Oregon Henge - pic

Location: 45.601406, -123.504165

Bridge 2

Location: 45.601218, -123.5021

The marsh drains over a sinkhole into a creekbed again

Crossing - pic

Location: 45.601199, -123.502094

Bridge 3

Location: 45.608446, -123.494557

State Park

Last bridge - pic

Location: 45.608439, -123.49453