King’s Mountain is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the Oregon Coast range. It’s located in the Tillamook State Forest, and the trail is well-maintained thanks to the work of the Mazamas. It’s also conveniently located right off of Highway 6 between Portland and the Oregon Coast, so it makes for a nice excuse to stop driving and start hiking.
From the parking lot trailhead, hike upwards until you hit the Wilson River/King's Mountain Trail Junction, and keep heading straight. You’ll be walking through patches of young forest mainly populated by alders. The hike up through switchbacks grants you views of a rushing creek below until the path reaches a steep ridge.
The trail drops down to follow the line of a gully next. In the late spring and summer this spot is rich in wildflowers, so bring your guidebook and look for paintbrush, penstemon, and phlox, all hiding between thick bushes of sword fern. Then steel yourself for another stretch of trail leading uphill as the creek comes into view to your left. Douglas firs steal the show for a moment here, and you’ll see old evidence of logging that occurred before the Tillamook Burn.
The foliage will switch back to dominantly alders next, and the trail drops down to a road bed and cuts off to the left. You’ll be in for another uphill moment, with the creek now to your right, as you top the 2,000-foot level. Major switchbacks are next, as you pass the Kings Mountain/Kings Mountain Junior Trail Junction. It’s all steep uphill from here, with the exception of one level spot just half a mile from the top. You’ll know you’re close to the top when you pass a sign marking the elevation as 3,000 feet.
Keep winding up the steep trail, trot up some rock “steps,” and pass a picnic table. You’ll exit from the cover of the Douglas fir canopy and rise through meadows. At the summit, you’ll be treated with a view of Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams, as well as a great view of the Lester Creek Valley below. There’s also a summit register up here, where you can “sign in” and record your accomplishment.
Note that even though the trail is maintained, it is rugged and steep, so be prepared for a more challenging hike. During the winter months rain and snow can make the steeper sections muddy, slick, and somewhat unsafe. As always when playing in the Oregon outdoors, come prepared and know the weather conditions in advance.
Directions from Downtown Portland:
- Take US-26 W
- After 19.8 miles, veer left onto OR-6 W/NW Wilson River Hwy, following signs for Tillamook
- Drive 28.9 miles on OR-6, past milepost 24, and look for the trailhead on your right