Elk Mountain lies in the Coast Range of Oregon in between Portland and the coast. It's not a very high mountain but the trail to it's summit makes for a strenuous little hike to a view that ranges from Mt. Hood to the Pacific Ocean past Tillamook Bay. You can even see the nearby minimum security work camp from the summit cut out of the forest on a mountain to the south. Part of the surrounding forest also has burn snags from fires in the early part of the 20th century.
The trail is a hike/easy scramble and gains 2000 feet in about 2 miles. There is a register at top to sign if interested too. The really neat thing about this mountain is that you can combine it with a hike across a ridgecrest to Kings Mountain for a loop hike of 12 miles that gains 4100 feet of elevation (I recommend it). Kings Mountain and Elk Mountain form a sort of horseshoe shaped ridge with dramatic cliffs from the top of the ridge to the base of the mountains down near sea level. Plenty of great views abound from this loop hike. Lots of people make the normal hike to either mountain separately but it does not appear too many do the whole loop from what I could tell in both peak's summit registers.
The best views are on the loop hike between the summits. Beware of ticks on these mountains no matter when you hike. I've gotten more than a few on me both in summer and winter here.
Getting ThereThe Elk Mountain Trail starts just off Highway 6 which runs from Tillamook on the coast to the west side of the Portland suburbs. From Portland, take Highway 26 west to Highway 6. From this intersection take Hwy 6 for 46 miles west to milepost 28 and turn right at a sign for Elk Creek Forest Park. Drive in .3 miles to a parking area across a small bridge about 100 feet.
If you are coming from the coast, take Highway 6 from Tillamook 28 miles to the same spot.
Red TapeThis is a day-use area so no fees or permits are required to park or hike.
When To ClimbBest time is Spring through Autumn but can be climbed year-round.
CampingCamping is allowed in the campground at the trailhead. For more information and prices, please click here.
(There are 16 camp spots that are $5 apiece, each additional vehicle is $2. Camping is only allowed in this area and NOT on the mountain.)
Mountain ConditionsTillamook State Forest
Be aware that the road in is gated in winter. You can still park at the gate and on the shoulder of Highway 6 and it only adds a few tenths of a mile to the trailhead.