Hike to great Coast Ranges views on a trail nestled in the Tillamook State Forest

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It was the calm of the trail that really struck me. Standing on a rocky outcrop overlooking the rolling mountains of the Coast Range, I felt like the whole forest, the whole world around me, was silent.

Nestled in the foothills of the Coast Range, this 5.5 mile section of the Wilson River Trail between Kings Mountain and Diamond Mill offers not only silence, but stunning views and a long expanse of lush forest.

The entire Wilson River Trail stretches just over 20 miles through Tillamook State Forest on the north side of Oregon 6, the highway that connects Hillsboro to Tillamook. A day of hiking the trail usually requires tackling small segments at a time and coming back to where you started.

This means that anyone who wants to explore this entire 5.5 mile trail segment is considering a day of around 11 miles. Some hikers take two cars and leave one at each end to shorten the hike, although with many already overcrowded trailheads, it’s difficult to grab a coveted parking spot with your extra vehicle.

Fortunately, this hike offers several nice places to turn around early – for those who don’t want to hike the entire trail or for those who want a shorter adventure with a great view.

READ MORE: A leisurely hike connects two mountains in the Coast Range

A bridge spans the North Fork Wilson River along the Wilson River Trail near the Diamond Mill OHV staging area and the trailhead in the Tillamook State Forest.Jamie Hale / The Oregonian

Wilson River Trail

The Wilson North Fork River cascades down a small rapid under the Wilson River Trail in the Tillamook State Forest. Jamie Hale / The Oregonian

Wilson River Trail

A quiet stretch of the Wilson River Trail passes through lush forest and Coast Range views between Kings Mountain and the start of the Diamond Mill Trail in Tillamook State Forest. Jamie Hale / The Oregonian

Wilson River Trail

A quiet stretch of the Wilson River Trail passes through lush forest and Coast Range views between Kings Mountain and the start of the Diamond Mill Trail in Tillamook State Forest. Jamie Hale / The Oregonian

While the Wilson River Trail conspicuously follows the Wilson River, this section west of Kings Mountain leaves the river behind as it ascends into the hills just above Lester Creek.

About halfway the trail flattens out and passes a number of phenomenal Coast Range mountain views, looking southwest through wooded, rolling hills. Soon after, the trail heads back into deeper forest and begins to descend towards the North Fork Wilson River.

By the river, the trail crosses a beautiful wooden walkway and reaches Diamond Mill, a starting point and staging area for off-road vehicles like ATVs and off-road motorcycles, which have their own trail system. near. A picnic table next to the bridge provides a great place to rest, and a short path leads to a beautiful spot on the river.

From there the Wilson River Trail continues for 1.9 miles to the Jones Creek Trailhead and extends 8.6 miles west beyond. Those looking for an even longer hike can rack up more mileage by pressing – remember you still have the whole hike.

Getting back to the start might seem like a chore, but with so many distinctly beautiful landmarks along the way – the bridge, the viewpoints, the different sections of the forest – it has a way of feeling fresh, even on the second hit. eye.

Wilson River Trail

A quiet stretch of the Wilson River Trail passes through lush forest and Coast Range views between Kings Mountain and the start of the Diamond Mill Trail in Tillamook State Forest. Jamie Hale / The Oregonian

Distance: 11.2 miles round trip

Difficulty: Moderately difficult

Approvals: Dry toilets, parking lots at each end

This hike is rated “moderately difficult” for the long distance and some steep hills.

While you can start the hike at either end, the east-to-west hike – from the Kings Mountain Trailhead to the Diamond Mill Trailhead – gives you a more scenic turning point on the beautiful footbridge over the North Fork Wilson River. , as opposed to a junction in the woods.

To get to the Kings Mountain trailhead, take Oregon 6 west of Hillsboro and follow the freeway for 42 km from its intersection with US 26, looking for the trailhead parking lot on the right side of the highway. The parking lot is relatively small, with space for just over a dozen cars.

From the trailhead, hike 0.1 km to a four-lane junction with the Kings Mountain Trail. Go left to walk west on the Wilson River Trail towards Jones Creek. (Going right will take you to another leisurely hike on the Wilson River Trail to Elk Creek.)

The trail passes through dense forest and soon begins to climb, eventually flattening out when it reaches the top of a bench. After passing a few Coast Range lookouts, the trail descends through another section of forest before coming to the footbridge over the North Fork Wilson River.

On the other side of the bridge you will find a picnic table and a small path down to the river. Just beyond a wooden fence is the large Diamond Mill parking lot, where you’ll find another toilet. The trail continues from here to Jones Creek, but unless you plan on adding more mileage to your day, this is your place to turn around and come back where you came from.

–Jamie Hale; [email protected]; 503-294-4077; @HaleJamesB



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