WHY IT’S GREAT This pleasant Coast Range excursion lies hidden in plain sight—right off busy US 26, barely 45 minutes from Portland. Opened to hikers in 2004, the easygoing path is part of the Clatsop State Forest’s relatively recent catalog of offerings for hikers in search of close-to-home adventures. From the trailhead, a small footbridge leads over the gurgling South Fork Quartz Creek and immediately up a gentle rise (total elevation gain adds up to only 420 feet) into a lush second-growth forest, which quickly muffles road noise. Overhead, a canopy of white-barked alders and vine maples frames the sky, while remnant old-growth stumps line the trail and hint at the area’s logging history. Less than 500 feet in, a pair of brown signposts steer explorers on a gentle descent to the quiet green waters of Bloom Lake, punctuated by sun-faded snags and the occasional leaps of cutthroat trout.
DON'T FORGET: The best spot for bank fishing can found on the opposite side of the lake from the trail’s end. For access, cross over an enormous log found just to the right of the lake’s eastern edge, passing a nice day-use area on the north end.
POST-HIKE WATERING HOLE? Helvetia Tavern. If ain’t broke, don’t fix it: a fitting mantra for this Hillsboro favorite, where delicious burgers can still be had for under six bucks and hundreds of colorful trucker hats line the ceiling. The taps tend toward the reliable, as well. (Think Coors Light and Bridgeport.) Cash only. 10275 Helvetia Rd, Hillsboro.
TRAILHEAD DIRECTIONS: Travel west on US 26 to milepost 24.3 and look for the large trailhead marker on the left (south) side of the highway. No fees or permits required.