Outdoorsmen, we have something for you. For the last installment of our Trail of the Week series, we’re upping the ante with Gales Creek Trail (pdf). After warming up on the milder trails within Oregon’s Washington County, take the next step onto the slightly more vigorous hike found on the Gales Creek Trail. This trail offers the total outdoors experience: waterfall-laden hiking, camping, and even fishing.
From the trailhead, follow the path that runs between Gales Creek and the fern-covered hills. Traversing deeper into the flora, hikers get the treat of experiencing some of Tillamook State Forest’s most remote and scenic land. Standout findings on the trail include rustic log bridges, which carry hikers across the creeks and tributaries of the Wilson River. In the low morning fog, catch the haunting groupings of snags, which are standing dead trees left from the Tillamook Burn Fires of the 1930s through the ’50s. There chalky color and missing tops make them perfect perching grounds for hunting birds (and perfect aid for bird watchers!).
Perhaps the most sparkling gem of the Gales Creek Trail is its smattering of waterfalls. The largest waterfall is also the last, ending on a treat. From the last waterfall, the trail pulls away from the water and ascents to Bell Camp Road. For those who prefer loop trails, combine Gales Creek Trail with Storey Burn Trail (pdf).
However, some forest lovers can’t help but extend their stay on the Gales Creek Trail into an overnight affair. For a dry or light-drizzle weekend, there are two stellar camping options:
- Gales Creek Campground: Wilson River Hwy., OR-6, Milepost 35, Forest Grove; offers biking, camping and fishing
- Browns Camp: Wilson River Hwy., OR-6, Milepost 33, Forest Grove;offers canoe access to the river, plus an off-highway vehicle area
Length: 11.4 miles
Type: hiking, mountain biking
Trailhead: Highway 6 at milepost 35