Elk Mountain to King's Mountain Loop

HARD 71 reviews
#4 of 19 trails in

Elk Mountain to King's Mountain Loop is a 10.7 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Tillamook, Oregon that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and camping and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

10.7 miles
3,815 feet

dogs on leash





wild flowers



over grown




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.

25 days ago

This is a very challenging hike with great views. We went up Kings Mointain first (clockwise) and it took us a full five hours with only brief rests. There are many challenging vertical climbs with a few requiring scrambling and/or grabbing trees/ropes for assistance. Either way you begin there are also many steep descents that require good grip and careful placement. Bring lots of water and food. Most of the hike is shaded with a few bright sun spots including the peaks.

26 days ago

Just did the loop today. HOT. Did it in 6 hour with a 1.6 mile detour down elk mountain trail bc I read the sign wrong. Brought lots of layers didn’t need a single one. Started at Kings trailhead and went counter clockwise hitting elk mountain first. Elk mountain ascent is way more steep and technical than Kings, but the descent down Kings is pretty punishing at the end on weary legs. Not too much exposure but bring sun screen. A few tricky areas that require scrambling throughout and one area between elk and kings summit where you need a rope. I wore bug spray. Tons of flies and bees. I can still hear them buzzing in my ears. Bring more water than you think you need, especially if it’s hot. Great work out. Beautiful views.

1 month ago

I thought this hike was harder than Munra Point. I definitely think it would help to have climbing (scrambling) experience or at least be really brave. I suggest doing half the hike (just one mountain first) before doing the whole thing, to get to know the area. I did the counterclockwise. It kicked my butt!

1 month ago

read most reports and figured it was doable. Super glad we took the advice of counterclockwise, Elk was defiantly the most technical side and would have been miserable trying to go down with weary legs. Took the dog but don't think I would do that again, had to carry him over quite a few spots that were just to rough for him to make. Took longer then expected and wish I had a little more water than I had packed. Great views but defiantly tested us

1 month ago

One of the best and challenging hikes within an hour of Portland. The flowers in late May to Mid June are amazing. I find it is best to hike counter clock wise, hitting Elk summit first and then Kings. It is a much nicer decent from Kings and the parking lot is right at the bottom. It took us 6.5 hours last time with a good rest on both summits. Bring lots of water and enjoy the views!

5 months ago

Very cool trail. Hard climb and amazing views. Would not take kids.

5 months ago

Very good challenge, beautiful views. Can be an excellent day hike for a weekend.

6 months ago

Awesome loop on a sunny Jan day. Loved starting at Kings Mountain w/the traverse across to to Elk Mountain. The three mile run along the Wilson river was perfect after the UPHILL to reach King Mountain. This is the better way to do this Loop in my opinion. Five hours overall w/lengthily breaks to enjoy the many mountain vistas. Great trail!:)

6 months ago

We hiked this on a beautiful January day starting and ending at King's Mountain Trailhead hiking in a clockwise direction. In the future, I will be hiking counter clockwise starting at King's Mt. TH. The relatively flat Wilson River Trail will be a nice warm up for the legs before ascending to Elks Mt. and I believe the descent from King's Mt. is easier than descending from Elks. You will want to bring your trekking poles/walking stick for this one. The difficulty of this hike is deceiving. The distance isn't incredibly long and there are lots of hikes in the region with more elevation gain but there are almost no switch backs, the trail grade fluctuates substantially, there are a plentiful amount of scrambles and the way the elevation gain is spread out throughout the hike makes this hike difficult. Bring lots of water. We could see Hood and Adams (90 and 105 miles away) from Kings Mountain. This is an amazing hike best saved for a clear day.

6 months ago

Really pretty difficult trail, beautiful summits and ridges just realize it is pretty dang steep at the beginning.

7 months ago

Did this 11/27/17. It was raining all day pretty hard. Was soaked through by 9:30 and I started at 8. Was a great hike and very challenging but fun. Unfortunately being so wet made it a bit miserable and missed the summit views on account of being in the middle of a rain cloud lol. Caught a few views at half elevation. Would love to do again on a clear day. Took Kings Mt trail over to Elks Mt and back on the Wilson river trail to Kings parking lot. Going up the rope was fun and the scramble to summit King from the rope side is crazy! Thought I'd lost the trail until I peeked my head over the last rock and saw the summit sign. That was a relief lol! Even had to go back for my dog and help him over a few ledges. Fun!

10 months ago

This is a very challenging hike. Did it on 09-02-17. It was hot. Went clockwise instead of counterclockwise, ascending King's Mountain to Elk Mountain.

11 months ago

Amazing hike!

11 months ago

would give it full five if not for some danger factor in rope repelling and unstable footing in descent.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Very difficult. Climbed Elk Mt and didn't have energy to go over to King Mt. Decided to walk out the 6.8 miles that is an easier grade down than go back down the 1.5 miles from Elk Mt.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

hard but way too cool!

Friday, May 05, 2017

Great hike, good workout, the first bit is tiresome and adventurous but afterwards its very pleasant.

-Be wary of ticks, especially after Elks summit until kings mountain trail.
-They do allow backcountry camping there, 1 mile in off the trails.
-Great spot for skeeters and buzzers.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Peaceful hike, nice scenery. Overall a fairly easy trail; upper mile to summit can be slippery so use caution.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Parked at Kings mountain trailhead. Starting at first junction .1 miles up. Did loop of Wilson River to Elk Mountain to Kings. 13 miles. Encountered patches of snow and diverted/lost trail for section between Elk and King summits. Good scrambles. Very wet day, but worth it!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

challenging but worth it! from the beginning you are hiking up and you quickly increase in elevation. the views and log books are awesome! steep downhill decending from elks heading to kings, watch for loose rocks. some of the path heading to kings mountain has minor washout patches. other than that beautiful! and thanks to whoever put the rope up! :)

mountain biking
Sunday, April 02, 2017

No hikers ever show up for trail maintenance days

Monday, March 27, 2017

always a good challenge! I've done this one on a hott summer day and had an amazing view with a reward of jumping in the river at the bottom. I've also gone up in the snow and had it was just as great of a time. If you want a challenge and to escape the busy gorge try this one out.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Great demanding hike for someone that is in good shape. My dogs and I ended up finishing it in 5 1/2 hours with taking time to enjoy the view, taking pictures and eating at the top. I really enjoyed this hike but would almost recommend shuttling vehicles instead of doing Wilson river trail. After seeing the views the Wilson river trail part is pretty disappointing. All in all give it 5 stars!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

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.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

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

Saturday, May 14, 2016

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.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

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.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

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.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

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.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

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.

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