Beautiful Day Hikes & Camping
near Forest Grove, Oregon
(emphasis on dog-friendly places)
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There are many books and web sites about hikes and camping in the area -
though I've never found a book that lists even most of the hikes I've listed
Camping in Oregon is wonderful - but it is also so popular that it can be
difficult to do in certain areas without reservations months in advance. And
as state forests and many national forests don't take camping reservations -
and that's most of the camp sites between PDX and the coast - it can be even
more difficult; for instance for any holiday weekend, where the holiday is
on Monday, you will not be able to camp at any camp site that doesn't take
reservations within a half day's drive of Portland, unless you get to the
camp site and set up a tent by WEDNESDAY. I'm not kidding. For an in-season
weekend, such camp sites are often filled by noon on Friday.
Hiking around the area is also a challenge: there are few loops, meaning
most hiking means you go in one direction, get to an end point, and you turn
around and come back. And the trails are either super easy or hugely
challenging - there is rarely an in-between.
These are the resources I use to find hiking and camping in the area:
You have to be careful with this, however, because some of the hikes are
through urban areas, along golf courses and on sidewalks through condos -
they are trails only in the mind of the person that submitted the "trail."
This is a great site for reviews.
Give yourself at least an hour to get to any of these from Forest Grove (90
minutes is better). Note that Sunday afternoon and evening traffic back to
Forest Grove is nightmarish, as everyone heads back from the Coast.
Tillamook State Forest Recreation
Tillamook State Forest Recreation Information
Tillamook State Forest Trails
Butte Trail, .75 miles
Trail, .8 miles
Entire Wilson River Trail is a 20.6 mile linear trail extending from Elk
Creek to Keenig Creek Trailheads. The Tillamook Forest Center is in the
middle (roughly). There is camping at Elk Creek and at Jones Creek (near
the Tillamook Forest Center), and there is undeveloped camping at Keenig
River Trail: Elk Creek - Jones Creek (A portion of this trail
connects with the Tillamook Forest Center)
River Trail: Jones Creek - Keenig Creek, (A portion of this trail
connects with the Tillamook Forest Center)
Mountain/ Elk Mountain/ Elk Creek Trails Each trail is between 3.5
and 4 miles. Elk Mountain is extremely steep and narrow. Kings Mountain
Trail is also a challenging Hike. You can go up Elk Creek Trail, and make
a loop by coming down either mountain trail.
Creek Trail, It's 10.2 miles from Gales Creek campground to Reeher's
Camp (campground with just 7 spots for campers without horses). Combine
the lower part of the Gales Creek Trail with the Storey Burn Trail for a
7.6 mile loop.
Burn Trail, 4.3 miles, but it's not a loop.
Hiking Trail Loop, Gravelle Brothers Trail (includes University
Falls), 2.4 miles, combine with Wilson River Wagon Road Trail and the Nels
Rogers Trail, which together are 4.6 miles, for a 7 mile loop. The
Gravelle Brother Trail is my favorite trail that I've found in this area.
County Point & Steam Donkey Trails, The Steam Donkey trails is
made up of two short loops in the form of a figure eight: Springboard
Loop, .3 miles, and Dooley Spur Loop, .5 miles. Four County Point trail is
about one mile, and is in and out (meaning it would be two miles)
Clatsop State Forest Trails
and Trail Guide
Mountain, 5.2 miles in and out
Soapstone Lake Trail. In and out trail, 2 miles. Another web site
says there is a trail around the lake, aa 2.8 mile loop
Off Hwy 53. Through a homestead meadow and across a brook. Not sure if it
can be combined with the 1 mile loop around Lost Lake.
Spruce Run Creek Trail. At the popular Henry Rierson Spruce Run
Campground. The official site says this is a 2 mile trail,
moderate-to-difficult climb. In and out. But another web site says it's
difficult, and is 5.2 miles in and out.
web site says that you could easily do all three hikes - Soapstone,
Lost Lake and Spruce Run - in a weekend, and stay at a "lovely"
campground on the Nehalem River. Not sure if you can walk to all the
trailheads from the campsites or if you have to drive to such.
Gnat Creek Campground Trail. A one-mile hiking trail connects the
campground to the nearby Gnat Creek Fish Hatchery. You can continue along
the trail for another 2.5 miles up Gnat Creek, a tributary to the Columbia
Northrup Creek Horse Camp. This facility lies among the lowland
meadows of Northrup Creek. The site accommodates equestrian, RV, and tent
campers and provides a picnic area along the creek as well as the Big Tree
Trail hiking path. The area also serves as a trailhead with over nine
miles of developed trails. 11 drive-in sites, 8 with horse corrals
Highest point in northwest Oregon, this saddle-shaped peak commands a
panorama from the ocean to the truncated cone of Mt. St. Helens. From
Portland, take Highway 26 west for 60 miles, and turn north just before
milepost 10 onto Saddle Mountain Road. Go 7 miles on this paved, but bumpy
road where it ends at the trailhead. Can be crowded on weekends. There are
some walk-in campsites available at the trailhead for 9$ per night.
Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey, 4 miles round trip (in and out)
9200 NE Abbey Road, Carlton. Hike is an old road that climbs through an oak
savannah to a hilltop shrine with a view across the Willamette Valley. The
wooded grounds of the monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe are open to
respectful visitors. Hikers are asked to speak quietly, bring no electronic
devices, and stay on the main trail. Dogs must be on leash. The abbey is the
spiritual retreat of a Cistercian (Trappist) order of monks. Dating to 1098
AD, the Trappist order is dedicated to seclusion and contemplation. About 30
monks live at the Oregon abbey, founded in 1955. In addition to prayer, they
bind books, store wine, and bake fruitcake.
Hagg Lake. This is near Gaston. It's a 13.6 mile hike in total all
the way around the pay lake. It costs $7 to go here, and given the noise
from boaters and beachers on weekends, it's not one of my suggested hikes.
Stewart State Park. There are more than 30 miles of multi-use trails,
including a Northern Loop Hike (4.1 miles). It's a $7 day use fee to hike
Falls Hike - Near Gaston. It's supposed to be a fun hike, with
swimming below the falls, and it IS on public land, but there is no parking
lot, and the people of Cherry Grove hate the people that come here, park
along the road and try to hike. Cars have been keyed, people have been
yelled at, and a few residents demand money for parking.
to Vernonia Trail. Multi-use trail paved over a decades-old train bed,
for walkers, jogger, biker or horse riders. 21 miles of tree-lined,
easy-grade pathway. Unfortunately, the only place to camp is at Stubb
Stewart State Park. Banks trailhead parking lot is always full
(overflowing!) on weekends. It's better to try the Manning or Buxton
trailheads if you are headed towards Vernonia. This is an in-and-out trail.
You can also hike Fernhill Wetlands in Forest Grove, Jackson Bottom Wetlands
Preserve in Hillsboro, and Miller
Woods, a 4.3-mile loop, but dogs are NOT permitted in these.
East Side and South of Portland:
Give yourself at least 90 minutes to drive to the trailheads for any of
these hikes below, and leave as early as possible, as traffic through PDX is
a nightmare and parking for these can be a huge problem - they are all very
PCT = Pacific Crest Trail
Creek Falls, 4.4 miles one way (so 8.8 miles in and back). Columbia
The trailhead for this short hike begins at the day use park on the south
side of the Bridge of the Gods in Cascade Locks. A reviewer said, "It's
interesting to see how the PCT crosses under Interstate 84 and weaves
through the only incorporated city located directly on the 2,650 miles of
the trail." Hike two miles on the PCT, then take a short side path to Dry
Creek Falls. Despite the name, it's another gorgeous gorge waterfall. Back
at the trailhead, take time to walk across Bridge of the Gods. The roadway
isn't very wide, so stay along the railing and face traffic. Do this during
daylight only. "The view is amazing, much better than when driving across."
Here is a review of the trail going South from Bridge of the Gods.
Timothy Lake, Mt. Hood National Forest, 13 miles
It's best to camp at the campsite here the night before and the night after
your hike - then you don't have to carry all of your camping gear. Hiking is
relatively flat around this reservoir. Begin near the campground at Little
Crater Lake and include about three miles of the PCT on the east side of the
Paradise Park, Mt. Hood National Forest, 10 mile loop
You go west on the PCT and north of Timberline Lodge. One reviewer called it
"the most beautiful section of the national scenic trail in Oregon." Make a
10-mile loop from the lodge by circling the wildflower meadows of Paradise
Park for above-timberline views of Oregon's highest mountain.
Above-timberline views of Mt. Hood.
Champoeg State Park, easy 3.2-mile loop and longer 8.4-mile loop to
There is a day use fee.
Also see: North
Coast Hikes, a list from William L. Sullivan, and excerpts from his
book 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & SW Washington and 100
Hikes/Travel Guide: Oregon Coast & Coast Range.
Backpacking start points near PDX
More Oregon and Washington suggested short
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