hike: Wilson River Trail – Keenig to Jones section
Located in the Oregon Coast Range, the Wilson River Trail runs for about 24 miles with multiple trailheads located just off Highway 6. This is part one of our plan to hike the entire length of the trail in sections.
distance: 10.5 miles (shuttle hike)
elevation gain: 1,650 ft.
drive time from Portland: 1 hour
parking pass: none
hike description: OregonHikers.org – Wilson River Trail (see sections 4 and 5, which we did in the opposite direction)
The Oregon Coast Range is often overlooked by hikers, possibly since the trails are mainly through thick coastal forests with limited views. In spite of this, it’s one of my favorite places to hike in the winter and early spring. The trails at lower elevations tend to be snow-free, and are usually less muddy than other options.
For our first section hike, we left a car at the Jones Creek trailhead, then drove to Keenig Creek to begin our hike. The trail climbs up at a gentle grade on multiple switchbacks, crossing a road partway up.
Once it finishes climbing, the trail traverses the side of ridge with many small creek crossings before reaching a ridge top. Hiking this short section of ridgeline was our favorite part of the hike.
After the ridge, the trail heads down into the Wolf Creek drainage area – a super scenic area with two footbridges over cascading streams.
After another section of going up a hillside, we eventually headed down towards the Footbridge trailhead. We continued for about another four miles to the Jones Creek trailhead. Much of this section is next to the Wilson River, either up high on the sides of ridges, or right next to the river.
As we got closer to Jones Creek, we discovered that the trail was re-routed due to a seasonal bridge closure, so the hike ended up being about a mile longer than we thought it would be. For a shorter route, leave a car at the Footbridge trailhead instead of Jones Creek for a hike that’s about 6.5 miles long with 1,000 ft. gain.