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One of the most beautiful, peaceful hikes I've been on in awhile . Fall colors were amazing. Trailhead can be a little tricky to find, small sign. Trailhead does split off in a few areas but easy to figure out. The lake was beautiful, but extremely cold for September! Past two people the whole hike.

A really good all day hike if you like a challenge.

My dog & I had a fabulous hike! Definitely going to hike here again.

Great hike, easy out and back, river was beautiful

trail running
15 days ago

Whether hiking or running, I strongly recommend doing this loop clockwise (in reverse according to AllTrails). The first mile is extremely steep - approximately 1,500 feet of gain, much of it on very rocky terrain. While it is less physically taxing to descend this terrain it isn’t necessarily much easier to go down because of the technicality. It’s mostly non-runnable both up and down. After that, however, the 2nd mile is much easier and the third is totally runnable. You then get a nice easy 4 miles downhill to the parking lot. The last half mile is next to the river so you can cool off after a good effort on a hot day. The views aren’t awesome except during that first (or last) mile and at the peak of Elk’s but it’s a very peaceful and serene hike/run.

hiking
17 days ago

First go back and read all the reviews that say the trail is steep. Then read them again. I would like to add that the first section is Steep. But it was a great trail, way off the beaten path. We found ripe blueberries, huckleberries, and thimble berries and were rewarded with a terrific view. The road in can get a bit rough in places and make sure you don't miss the little spur off the main road down to the trailhead for the last 1/2 mile.

Rain cleared out most of the smoke, but made the trail pretty slick, so watch your footing, especially on steeper parts of the trail. Parts of the trail (mostly during the first half mile) are overgrown and you'll have to fight your way through some brambles, but it was doable!

There was plenty of parking at the trailhead and the trail itself is relatively well-maintained, but I'd definitely recommend downloading the offline map. There were a couple of unmarked forks on the trail that we had to double check.

All in all, a great hike to a beautiful lake with plenty of spots for camping. There weren't a ton of bugs and we only met a handful of people on the trail. It did get a bit chilly when we stopped for lunch at the lake though, so definitely bring a warm rain jacket!

Because of the smoke or fog we didn see a lake, but star minus is for long way to get to the parking lot and the trail wasnt so well maintened, plenty of greens. But I believe that hike is good for hikers with dogs.

Excellent!

Easy trail, but nothing special.

hiking
1 month ago

Moderate, but on the lighter side. On a good day you can see Rainier, St Adams & Mt Hood at the same time if you take the short trail extension at the top,

One of the best viewpoints around. Smoky time of year, but when we reached summit of Silver Star, we had clear views above the smoke layer of St. Helens, Rainier, Adams, Hood, and a bit of Jefferson. Lots of trail offshoots - use the map. We extended our hike to include scramble up Sturgeon Rock (awesome) then a loop back via Tarbell Trail. Warning on Tarbell - new logging roads have been cut through trail...again, use map w/Phone/GPS and you’ll find trail. Also, after parking at Grouse Vista, trailhead starts *across* parking lot from pit toilet (not the other way, which is continuation of Tarbell).

went there August 12th 2018. it was cloudy but definitely a great hike.

hiking
1 month ago

Whew! The inclines were never ending but that’s the joys of summiting mountains! I brought my six year old with me. We did some frequent stops and I put him on my back for a lil bit because I was impatient to summit. He did absolutely great throughout the whole trail. Hit the trail around 10 am. At noon it started to get a little busy. Lots of dogs on this trail, they love it.

The only bummer was the fog. Did not get to see the view. But super proud of my kiddo for completing his first “moderate” hike!

Beautiful hike that’s not too crowded. We hiked it on a partly cloudy day and the views were still super pretty. If you don’t have an 4 wheel/AWD car I wouldn’t recommend it. I didn’t feel comfortable driving my car over the bridge at the bottom so we parked and hiked to the trailhead for extra 4 miles each way. Worth it though!

Great spot, not crowded, a little too smokey for any views this time, but Ill be going back on a clear day!

hiking
1 month ago

Did this on an early Sunday morning and were the only ones out there at first. Fully shaded and pretty much straight up the entire way up. as many have said the summit itself has a nice clearing but the view itself is obscured by trees. We continued down a spur trail at the summit that lead us over a ridge and then another landing with a great view of the Olympics. It took us about an hour to get up to the summit then another 15 min to walk over the ridge on the spur trail.

Other reviewers have mentioned not to use Google maps to get there - something must have changed because we had no problems with Google maps getting us to the trailhead (no sketchy, poorly maintained service roads as others suggested).

1 month ago

great view.....but you can drive up there..

I completed this loop yesterday. It ended up being about 7.5 miles for me (maybe because I got of trail a few times for photos). The first 1.5 miles is quite challenging, especially with the loose gravel. Many good view points on the way up. There is a notebook at the summit to sign,but I had no pen. I contemplated going back down the way I came for the sake of time, but glad I didn't (I can't imagine going down those steep grades without a pole). After the summit, you do have some rocks to get down, so you'll need to use your hands. Around mile 3 it's smooth sailing. The junction point is well marked and there are pink/orange ribbons to follow.

Once I got on the Elk Creek Trail I decided to do some trail running (mostly trying to beat the sunset). The trail is generally smooth (I did hit a couple rocks,so be careful), and it's downhill, so I was back at the trailhead in no time.

The views are beautiful, but I imagine you could get similar views on a less challenging trail. Bring plenty of water!

Groomed trail. Beautiful views. Aggressive huge horse flies; bee body with fly wings! Steady climb up. No cover at about 2 miles. Suggest starting early to avoid the hot sun. Beautiful display of wild flowers at 2 miles.

still killer views even though we couldn't see the mountains this time through the smoke. one of my top favorites. this trail is hard on dog paws.

So the red on the map is actually just a logging road, very rocky if you have bad tires or low clearance. Not very good for hiking since it’s open to vehicles up to the turn. Some nice views after the gate, but sound of gunfire and lots of trash on road was disappointing. Maybe would come back up with a Mtn bike but would t recommend for a hike unless you just happen to be nearby. Mtn bike trails sound pretty well built out though. Also the trail doesn’t start where the red starts, it starts at that sharp turn halfway up where there is a parking lot and toilets.

I didn’t do the full loop, just up to the summit and down due to timing but in retrospect it was very difficult going down. The views at the top of the summit are great. About a mile in it starts getting rough with having to scramble up a few tough parts and towards the end there are a few saddles. I was a little confused with how to get there but just look for the elk creek campground and drive a bit past there. Definitely a challenge, and a leg killer. I wouldn’t bring a dog or children.

hiking
1 month ago

I'd give 3.5 if I could. We went up clockwise on a really hot day, and had solid, if intermittent, tree cover. You could tell there wasn't much traffic on the trail, as horse poop was light and spider webs were prevalent.

Most of the time views were obscured, but as we got higher, the gorge started to reveal itself. We had some haze, but still gorgeous. Doing things clockwise meant a longer time on the equestrian trails on the descent, which means we could make good time. Nothing really remarkable on the way down though other than a small section of mossy old forest that was pretty.

Great view at the top! Fairly steep on the last half and if you ignore most of the trails off the main trail it’s fairly easy to stay on track to the top. Turning right at the pile of rocks at the fork keeps you on the main trail. Lots of water in the summer, sturdy hiking boots and wouldn’t recommend taking dogs in the summer.

Best maintained hiking trail I’ve been on. Went today and it was beautiful weather! A little hazy at the top but well worth every step up. Take bug spray and use it frequently- lots of bugs. Get there early for parking. Best hiking trail I’ve been on!

hiking
1 month ago

This was my second time visiting the summit of Elk's Mountain. My first time I did the whole enchilada (Kings-Elk loop). I did this hike clockwise today and is the direction that I would recommend. I have descended down the steep trail on my first visit and the fun factor plummets. The dry dirt and fine loose rock make this trail very difficult to descend. Late July and the huckleberries were out. Yum! Had a close encounter with a black bear that crossed the trail ahead of me, about a mile north of the trailhead, on Elk Creek Trail. He must have been returning from the stream to get a drink. He wasn't afraid of me, which was a bit unnerving. I heard him on the hillside 5 minutes later. He had been walking parralell with me up on the hillside. The campground and smell of food must attract them.

I'm not that impressed with the view from Elk's Mountain summit. The view is just of other nearby hillsides with logged patches everywhere. I prefer the view from Kings mountain. On a clear day you can see Mt. Hood from ~100 miles away. The ascent on this trail feels more like a scramble than a hike. Constantly climbing over and down rocks, navigating loose trail soil. My favorite part of the hike was the notepad at the top. People write some pretty humorous stuff in there. :)

Final thought: There are much more rewarding hikes in the region for a similar energy expense. Table Mt., Silver Star Mt., Hamilton Mt., Larch Mt., Saddle Mt. are the first ones that come to mind. If you are going to do this hike, just do the whole Kings-Elk Mountain loop. It is a little more difficult but much more rewarding. I might be back in five years, but wouldn't be sad if I never hike this again.

As some of the others noted any car can probably make it, but AWD or larger vehicle would be better if you have the option. Trail has some long rocky/gravel stretches but one of the BEST views from the top on a clear day.

Gravel road with occasional potholes for the last 5 miles. The trail is fairly steep with tons of rocks but relatively easy if you go at a moderate pace. Amazing view at the top with all five mountains visible.

Bring bug spray if you don’t like flies diving into you.

Absolutely beautiful.

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