Elk Mountain Loop Trail

HARD 14 reviews

Elk Mountain Loop Trail is a 7.1 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Tillamook, OR that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and birding and is accessible from March until June. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

7.1 miles 3271 feet Loop

dogs on leash

birding

hiking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

2 months ago

A steep slippery climb to the summit, but great views once you're there. The two miles after feel long, it's a drop right away, but then a lot of variation in elevation before you finally hit the Elk Creek split, so save your energy. It's a beautiful chunk of forest though, mist, clouds, salal berries, moss and not crowded at all. I thought people might be exaggerating but it is a tough one. Bring plenty of snacks and water and enjoy!

3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

it was hard hike but great experience. I wouldn't go back again anytime soon because it was too hard scary. definitely this hike is not for kids.

hiking
5 months ago

The views on this hike were awesome but it was very difficult. It is mostly steep uphill and overgrown in many areas.

7 months ago

hiking
1 year ago

My son and I hiked Elk Mountain Trail today. We were originally going to do King Mountain trail, because we heard it was less demanding. Unfortunately the parking lot for King Mtn Trailhead was full.
So, we pulled up our "big boy" shorts and drove back to Elk Mountain Trailhead, located in Elk Creek Park. The weather turned out to be perfect, blue skies, scatter white clouds and approximately 69 degrees. If it had been warmer it may have made this brutal trail much more grueling.

Elk Mountain Trail is approximately 4.3 miles round trip. It is a very demanding trail. As comparison, I think it is more difficult than Dog Mountain Trail in the gorge. Elk Mountain Trail is very "efficent". From the very start the trail basically goes straight up; it has minimal if any switchbacks. In the first 1.6 miles you climb 1,900' elevation. The Elk Mountain Summit is 2788'. Hang in there, the panoramic view at the summit makes the exhausting walk well worth it. BTW as you ascend to the summit, you will periodically get amazing views peaking through the tree laden trail.

It is highly recommended that you have healthy meniscus in your knees, and strong thighs, and lungs. You will find all three being severely tested. Coming down is no piece of cake on your knees and your balance. The steep trail has loose soil and gravel, which can surprise you and put you on your butt if you are not careful. It happened 2 or 3 times on the way down. I guess trekking poles would be nice to help maintain balance.

Even though it was Memorial Day weekend, the traffic on the trail was low. Once we reached the summit two other groups arrived within 20-30 minutes. Then on the way down we only saw maybe 6 hikers (3 groups). So, the trail traffic was low.

It's a great trail, brutal but worth it. Get out there and enjoy it.

1 year ago

A friend and I did this loop coming off of the Elk creek side trail when we wanted more of a burn. We got a little more than we bargained for to say the least! it was a mildly warm late April morning/afternoon, no clouds, pretty clear. Even on a day like that a full 3L water bladder was barley enough, bring extra! Well worth the efforts and for the first time we got to sign a trail log at the summit!

hiking
2 years ago

Aw, c'mon. I did this one in midsummer a couple years ago, at age 47, in running shoes. It was a killer. Take water and an asthma inhaler. I am no athlete, and would never have tried it were it not for a friend who conned me into driving up there. He and his dog sprinted up the thing and then looked back at me with disdain as I crawled up the rocks.

Took about 4 hours, trip up was half-clambering over boulders. Spectacular views, incredible variety of wildflowers. Forgot to take a camera, dangit. Took the creek trail back, steep in spots. Knees were crippled for two days, but it was the coolest and most demanding thing I've ever done and I was pretty proud of myself.

hiking
3 years ago

Difficult uphill climb. If you want a workout this is it. We had planned to go on to kings mountain but just headed down elk creek as we were wiped.

hiking
3 years ago

We hit this trail a bit later in the day and following a hike up Kings Mountain the weekend before. The trail quickly starts upward and continues to steepen as you make your way towards Elk Mountain peak. Despite the ability to barrel up steep trails, this took a bit of time, nearly 2.5 hours to reach the top, it's a strenuous climb no doubt. Late day aside, we had the gear and the tenacity to turn this into an epic loop. Rain, sleet, snow, we barreled on through the slushy snow laden trail, up and down precarious sections, a rope decent down a mud slick of trail and more hand over hand climbing until we reached Kings Mountain. A quick decent down Kings Mountain, you connect with the Wilson River trail back to Elk Mountain trail head. This is an ambitious day hike for experienced and equipped hikers. Beautiful views despite the overcast weather and a good amount of solitude. The loop, 10.5 - 11 miles, seven hours, 1.5 in the dark with headlamps, in typical disordered coastal weather. Definitely a trail to keep in the training log for early season conditioning - mind the snow and the temp drop on the North face.

hiking
4 years ago

This is one of the toughest trails i have hiked. It was amazing and plan to hike it many more times!

hiking
4 years ago

So...perhaps it's because I'm primarily a Columbia River Gorge hiker and was out of my element...but this trail was one of the more difficult ones I've done (and I've done some pretty mean ones). To be fair, my group completed the Elk-Kings loop, which was listed as the most difficult option for this hiking area. My review will reflect this.

Although not as "hard" as Mt. Defiance (listed as one of Oregon's hardest non-mountaineering hikes), this hike is most definitely more technically challenging, especially if one does do the elk to kings loop. The hike starts off straightforward enough, climbing steadily on an incline that will get your heart pumping and quads (as well as shins, ironically) screaming. Upon summitting Elk, there's a nice view and a log box. Enjoy it because the "hike" off the summit is more so a climb down! Trust me, it's steep. Anyhow, after that wonderful .25 mi or so, the trail levels out and is quite pleasant...until you just pass the junction to either do the return loop to the trailhead or continue to Kings.

If you proceed to kings, beware that the trail gets even steeper. This is also mentioned as one of the roughest stretches of trail in the NW, FYI. There's even a roped section (thank you, Mazamas for that, by the way!)! I believe that that portion would rate as YDS class 3. Anyhow, after even more steep up and downhill, you'll reach the summit of Kings, with a decent view and another log box waiting.

If you descend from Kings and complete the loop, you'll go through steep but otherwise pretty uneventful downhill. Once complete, the loop will have taken you just a tad over 10.5 mi and 3700-4000 ft, depending on how you measure.

Bring LOTS of H2O, food, and time.

hiking
4 years ago

It will get your heart going, steep hike ! Great Views. Will do it again

hiking
5 years ago

Wow so this shouldn't be rated as difficult. It should be rated as masochistic mountain goats only. This trail is no joke. Like the Ungol Stair from Lord of the Rings this just relentlessly go up. Some areas have cliffs on either side. But for some of us that's just cool!

However the viewpoints, as long as you are cool with standing at the edge of massive cliffs, are breathtaking.

If you love to hike regularly this would be a good challenge and the scenery would make it worthwhile. But make sure the weather will be clear and bring plenty of trail mix, bananas and water. And if you don't have the heart to backtrack once you've reached the summit you can always take the Elk Creek Trail back which is a long but gentle slope all the way down.

And your boots had better cost more than $100 for this one.