River/Creek · Views
This loop will take you straight up the side of Elk Mountain on a very steep, difficult, and rocky trail. After caching your breath and taking in the amazing views at the top, descend to the ridgeline and follow it north before turning and taking the Elk Creek drainage back down on an old road grade through alder and Douglas fir forests.
Need to Know
Elk Creek Trail
is adjacent to Elk Creek Campground which has vault toilets.
Elk Mountain Trail
is a very difficult trail that leads straight up a knife edge ridge and involves more a little rock scrambling and ladder-like climbing up rocky ledges. The trail is at times hardly more than a suggestion, but when you do get to the top and catch your breath, the views are well-worth it.
Rather than turn around and head back down the steep rocky ridge, continue on and follow the ridgeline north-west towards Kings Mountain. The trail is still rough and rocky, but levels out and travels through some beautiful alder groves and Douglas fir forest. At the junction with Kings Mountain Trail
, continue northwest and follow the old road bed down from the ridgeline.
Elk Creek Trail
begins where Elk Mountain Trail
reaches another old road that turns sharply south and follows Elk Creek downhill. After a few different sets of switchbacks the trail parallels the creek for a while before joining the Wilson River Trail
. The road grade is gentle and wide, providing a nice and easy return to the trailhead.
This route is a nice way to summit Elk Mountain without having to take the same trail downhill, which is even trickier than going up do to the extremely steep and rocky nature of the trail. The gentle downhill is a relief on your burning thigh muscles and makes it into a full afternoon of running.
Shared By: Samantha Goodwin