hike: Wilson River Trail – Elk Creek to Kings section

This section of the Wilson River Trail in Oregon’s Coast Range goes from the Elk Creek trailhead to the Kings Mountain trailhead. Along the way, the trail charms with cascading creeks and moss-covered boulders and trees.

distance: 7.2 miles (out and back)
elevation gain: 1,200 ft.
difficulty: moderate
best season: winter, spring
drive time from Portland: 1 hour
parking pass: none
hike description: OregonHikers.org – Wilson River Trail Traverse

The Hike

This section of the Wilson River Trail begins at the Elk Creek trailhead and heads west to the Kings Mountain trailhead. This description is based on doing the hike as an out-and-back, although a shuttle hike is possible with two cars.

I’ve hiked this trail in the summer, but the best time to visit is the winter or spring. The trail is less overgrown, water levels are higher in creeks, and the forest is filled with lush green color from moss and lichens covering trees and boulders.

Starting at the Elk Creek upper parking lot, the trail gains elevation quickly as it leads to the junction with the Elk Mountain trail. After this, it levels out a bit.

Wilson River Trail: Elk Creek to Kings Mountain section Wilson River Trail: Elk Creek to Kings Mountain section

Within a mile, enter a lush green section with moss covered boulders.

Wilson River Trail: Elk Creek to Kings Mountain section Wilson River Trail: Elk Creek to Kings Mountain section Wilson River Trail: Elk Creek to Kings Mountain section Wilson River Trail: Elk Creek to Kings Mountain section

Moss and lichens cover everything… including these tree limbs hanging over a nurse log.

Wilson River Trail: Elk Creek to Kings Mountain section Wilson River Trail: Elk Creek to Kings Mountain section

The trail passes by rocky walls with moss and ferns and occasional views of the Coast Range.

Wilson River Trail: Elk Creek to Kings Mountain section Wilson River Trail: Elk Creek to Kings Mountain section Wilson River Trail: Elk Creek to Kings Mountain section

We crossed several small streams and stopped to have lunch in this area.

Wilson River Trail: Elk Creek to Kings Mountain section Wilson River Trail: Elk Creek to Kings Mountain section Wilson River Trail: Elk Creek to Kings Mountain section

The trail heads downhill steeply before reaching a large bridge over an unnamed creek.

Wilson River Trail: Elk Creek to Kings Mountain section Wilson River Trail: Elk Creek to Kings Mountain section Wilson River Trail: Elk Creek to Kings Mountain section

The creek here is incredibly scenic… seems like it should have a name but I couldn’t find info about one.

Wilson River Trail: Elk Creek to Kings Mountain section

I love the large ferns in the Coast Range.

Wilson River Trail: Elk Creek to Kings Mountain section

The trail keeps mostly to a low area with small ponds and meadows popular with elk… we saw signs of their hoof marks in several places alongside the trail.

Cross smaller Dog Creek on a footbridge and short distance ahead is the Kings Mountain trail junction. At this point, we turned around and headed back the same way.

Wilson River Trail: Elk Creek to Kings Mountain section Wilson River Trail: Elk Creek to Kings Mountain section