Wilson River Trail

A forest expedition close to Portland

By Brian Barker December 20, 2012

Why it’s great: Just 50 miles west of town in the Coast Range, the Jones Creek Trailhead of the Wilson River Trail offers year-round hiking, mountain biking, and lots of fodder for nature- and history-buffs. At the barely seven-year-old Tillamook Forest Center, options range from climbing a 40-foot-tall replica fire lookout, walking a short network of interpretive trails, and scoping exhibits on the vast Tillamook Burn (a series of fires from the ’30s to the ’50s) and the subsequent massive reforesting efforts. Just south of the forest center, the Wilson River Trail plunges for up to 10 miles into dense Sitka spruce, alder, and big-leaf maple. One mile in, pause along a rustic footbridge and look out for spawning coho in the deep pool below—a final wintry chance to see the fish makes the probable mud worthwhile. Wilson Creek Falls, which jumps down from a ridge before trickling across the trail, provides an ideal turnaround two miles later. To track more falls, continue 1.6 miles along Highway 6 to the Keenig Creek Trailhead, where several cascades can be found within 3 miles of the trail’s start. 

Don’t forget: Don’t trust the forecast? Check the Tillamook Forest Center webcam.

Post-hike watering hole:
Helvetia Tavern The menu at this barnlike Hillsboro landmark goes something this: Hamburger, Jumbo Burger, Jumbo Cheese Burger... Sure, there’s also fish and chips and a garden burger, but everyone comes for the giant, meaty burgers. 10275 Helvetia Road, Hillsboro.

Trailhead directions: From Highway 6, between milepost 22 and 23 turn north on North Fork Road and look for the Jones Creek Day Use Area on the left. The Tillamook Forest Center is located just past milepost 22 on Highway 6. No fees or permits required.  

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