Elk Mountain to King's Mountain Loop is a 10.7 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Tillamook, OR that features a great forest setting and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round.
This demanding loop takes you to the summit of Elk and King's Mountains crossing through the Tillamook forest between as you gain nearly 4000' and cross a series of light scrambles on difficult terrain.
I hike at the Columbia Gorge quite a bit so I have been somewhat spoiled. View 3.5 stars. I rate this 3 stars only because I feel this trail was a little dangerous on the day I hiked due to so much loose gravel and dirt making it extremely slippery even with good shoes. I did not fall but I came dangerously close to falling on my ass probably 4-5 times during the hike and that is very uncharacteristic of me. I met a nice lady about a mile in on my way to Kings Mt summit and she was on the way back down. I came across her again after I was about 3.5 miles away from completing the loop. I had made a wrong turn and headed to the Elk Mt camping area. She had fallen a few times and was in need of water. I had a spare 500ml bottle for her and it felt really good to help her. Anyways.... lessons learn from that incident is bring lots of water. I used less than a liter for the loop but I can see how some people might need 2L. This hike can be considered hard if you're not conditioned for it and the danger of loose rocks and gravel and some steep climbing and the potential of falling and getting hurt or die. Other than that it's not that challenging. I was able to complete the entire loop in about 4 hours 20 minutes and traveled 11.92 miles including the wrong turn. I was on a fast pace but not running. It's too dangerous to run on this trail. If you plan on running the trail go somewhere else because this is not the trail for that. Hiking poles can and will help your balance in may areas. I didn't have my poles with me and wish that I had them with me. Anyways... overall a decent hike. A solid 3 stars in my book. Without the loose gravel on the trail then a solid four stars. A good trail to do once or perhaps twice to go back and watch the fall foliage. Not kid friendly unless you have harness for the child, because if your child slips and falls off the cliff you will feel guilty for the rest of your life. If you don't want to take that risk leave your child at home for this one and take your child to hike Multnomah Falls trail or the like instead. Not for first time hiker friendly. If you are a couch potato and one day a friend invites you to go do this hike you need to politely decline unless you plan to only go a mile or so into the loop. The loop is not the trail to take your friend who hasn't seen the gym, run, or hike regularly. However, if you're condition and can hike up 3,000 feet with ease or have recently finished a half marathon in less than 2 hours then your will enjoy this trail and not break a sweat doing it.
Gorgeous views and sense of accomplishment await you at the summit, but beware this hike is not a leisurely stroll. make sure you stretch haha
This trial is great. It's rated as a moderate, but compared to the moderates in Salt Lake area (where I'm from) I'd put it close to difficult.
I started up the Elk mountain trail feeling pretty a little intimidated. It was steep. By the time I made it to the summit, a felt it was a blessing when I wasn't using my hands.
Once up Elk mountain the trail give you a pretty nice break. Eventually you'll make it to a split to either loop back via Elk Creek trail or continue to kings peak. The kings peak trail starts off easy, but the last half mile is pretty brutal. Once section even had a rope that you'll need to "belay" yourself down. However it's worth it. Thankfully the return back down Kings mountain is much easier and I made it down without much trouble. When you do loop over, back to the Elk mountain campground, the sign states 3.5 miles. My gps measured closer to 4, so just a heads up.
Lots of great views and intense sections to test yourself. Not a kid friendly hike and not one for those wanting a relaxing stroll. This was meant for me to be prep to climb a "real" mountain, and I feel it did just that.
This amazing hike is one I will definitely do again (but would avoid if there was snow or very heavy rain). There are quite a few scrambles (some with cliffs), lots of hills and beautiful scenery. Coming down the backside of Elk Mountain is a little sketchy, but not too bad. Our trekking poles came in handy. I didn't bring my dog with me on this one but I think she will do alright. She's fairly new to hiking, so I might leash her for a few of the sections just for my peace of mind. I would NOT take small kids on the trail.
The trek between Elk and Kings Mountains is a fairly easy one until you get close to Kings Mountain and then it's up, up, up. A big shout out to whoever installed the rope on one of the downgrades. It came in very handy!
Don't forget to sign in when you summit both mountains. The notebooks are inside of the boxes.
Hiked up to Elk Mtn. From parking lot before campground. A lot of serious up! Great exercise, trying to prep for Hood in spring. There were explosions going off somewhere up the valley toward Portland. My wife thought it might be a gun range, annoying as hell when you're trying to get a break from all the gun shit.
This trail was amazing. Not for beginners or people who want to bring small children or dogs. It is manageable with those, but not recommended.
This trail isn't for the views (you'll see the Tillamook forest but no one will oooh and aww about your photos like a shot of Hood from the drive-up base would do). It isn't about getting a tshirt, there is none. But it is a killer adventure and a great training trail that lets you gain serious elevation on difficult if not absurd terrain for the relatively easy access (1 hour from portland). Hiking it in summer was a blast, conditions were easy relative to the sheer faces and dramatic up & down nature of the trail (in snow sounds great and yet insane). I'd skip the last 3.5 mile walk on Wilson Creek trail and shuttle between the trailheads if possible.