Elk Mountain Loop Trail

HARD 86 reviews
#2 of 19 trails in

Elk Mountain Loop Trail is a 7 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Tillamook, Oregon that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

7.0 miles
2,801 feet

dogs on leash



nature trips

trail running




wild flowers


16 days ago

Did the hike backwards which I would recommend for the workout. Super steep and gets you to the summit quickly. Amazing view!

2 months ago

The views are amazing, better than the Kings Mountain summit in my opinion. Some scrambles, some hairy descents, and some cliffside trails make this one of the more difficult hikes I’ve done in Tillamook. Probably best to leave the kids at home, bring a lot of water and a snack. Most importantly pay attention to the weather, this isn’t a trail you want to have to maneuver in a rain or snow storm.

The most hardest hike I have done well worth it make sure U bring a lot of water

5 months ago

The climb up will test your will power. The way down will test your joints! The view was great at the top. Was definitely one of the harder hikes I’ve done

5 months ago

Wow! Hardest hike I’ve done here in the PNW. Right up there with dog mountain and king mountain (which you can loop to and knock out both summits in one go if you’re a true sadist). Big minuses for no really solid views or waterfalls. The down hill destroyed my knees. I’d only take younger, more agile dogs if you’re a dog person since there are quite a few rock climbs/scrambles you have to negotiate

6 months ago

I love this challenge! Beautiful views!! I have yet to do the full loop, I usually go out and back. It’s steep, but exactly what I’m looking for to train. Prepare to maneuver over rocks in some spots. Good hiking shoes and lots of water. No dogs or kids. if you can’t make it to summit, don’t worry beautiful views all the way

8 months ago

Amazing place

10 months ago

Bucklin' Down 2017 completed the loop on 9 Sept. We loved it, despite one of our party dealing with feet and knee pain. Fun and challenging ascents were steep and slick with loose rock, and we were glad for our trekking poles. Incredible views of the surrounding valleys, mountains and hills. Tremendous variation along the trail too...from arid rock to lush, damp forest to gurgling streams. Had a few dispersed camping locations just off trail. Bring plenty of water.

11 months ago

One of my favorite hikes. The view from above the clouds is incredible. I like to hit the trail early in the morning. It is very quiet and peaceful. For beginners this can be a tough trail, hard on the legs and feet. I live nearby and have made this hike many times. I prefer the long way to the summit and then I turn around and make it an out and back.

11 months ago

Temperature when my wife and I started the ascent of the steep trail (1.4m) was 61F, in the way back, 84F (10am-pm), not a good time of the year to do this hike. My wife abandoned after a 3rd of the trail. I kept climbing with my dog (very bad idea). Beautiful sights, but not quiet as Saddle Mountain (astonishing views). Very difficult hiking down. They should set up a slide! Maybe my expectations were too high.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Great hike up and well worth the effort! Coming down is extremely steep so I wouldn't suggest bringing the pup for a loop hike. Going in and out will be long, but better on the knees. Anyway, can't wait to don't again!

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Holy cow, this is a butt-kicker! The ascent up Elk Mountain is incredibly steep, and the 1.4 miles up took us a little over an hour to complete. Once you're up, the views are breathtaking, and from there on out the trail is pretty easy down the Eagle Creek Trail back to the campground. Definitely bring more water than you think you'd need for the 8 mile loop, as both my dog and I were quite parched by the time we got back to the car.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

awesome trail! Now one of my favorites.

Friday, April 07, 2017

I did the elk mountain summit trail. Beyond beautiful views, but be prepared to work for them. It is an uphill climb the whole way with barely any breaks of downhill or leveled out ground. My boyfriend and I were incredibly sore the next few days following the hike. We only encountered one other couple on the way up and down the mountain.

mountain biking
Sunday, April 02, 2017

Great trail for mountain biking

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Amazing views from the summit

Monday, September 19, 2016

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!

Monday, August 29, 2016

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.

Monday, June 13, 2016

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

Monday, May 25, 2015

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.

Monday, April 27, 2015

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!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

easy trail. needs trail work. beautiful views.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

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.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

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.

Monday, April 22, 2013

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.

Monday, November 05, 2012

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

Thursday, October 04, 2012

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.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

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

Monday, October 24, 2011

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.

14 days ago

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