Over 9,000 acres of wilderness. One loop trail.
This is the Cummins Creek Wilderness, a beautiful expanse of old-growth forest, soggy bogs, and cascading ridges. There’s only one official trail that trespasses through these wilds, and it’s a loop path that skirts the edge of the true woodlands. However, there are a few alternative routes that wind in and out the deeper forest. It makes for a good day hike to use both side paths and the main route as you explore this section of the Sisulaw National Forest.
The trail begins by following Forest Road 1050 up a gentle slope through a secondary woodland. You’ll spot the usual coastal forest suspects, including sword fern, huckleberry, and salal, all tucked under the wide, mossy branches of western hemlock and Sitka spruce. The trail crosses over a trickling creek and approaches a unsigned junction right around the 350-yard mark.
You’ll take a right at the junction and head deeper into the woods via an old road bed. The path dips down to a gully, at the bottom of which you’ll say hello to Cummins Creek for the first time. Look to the left and find a faint trail - this is where you’ll emerge from if you choose the bushwacking loop. In the meantime, continue up the creek on a path that swishes through patches of deer and sword fern, clamber over a downed alder tree, and the turn with the trail away from the creek.
Up ahead you’ll see the Three Guardians (a trio of massive old-growth Sitka spruce), right where Cummins Creek hits a gravel bar. You can choose to bushwack here towards an alder bottomland ahead. Look for a huge felled spruce to affirm you’re on the right cross-trail, and up ahead you’ll find a more distinct user trail that leads down to a marshy brook. Get ready to squelch through some boggy areas next before hitting the bottomlands. Make your way towards the main flow of the creek, cross over, and ascend back up the ridge to your right. You’ll reconnect with the official trail at the top.
Follow the Cummins Creek Trail as it heads up a ridge and crosses another small stream. The woodland here is usually beautifully quiet and dark with looming Sitka spruce and hemlocks that gradually blends with Douglas firs, then alder trees. Up ahead is the ridge crest with a view of the green-mantled land below, as well as the next junction.
Take a left at the crossroad, leave the road bed, and start a fairly steep ascent up a root-covered path. The gradient starts to level just as you start to get out of breath, and you get a change to slow down and appreciate the ancient Douglas firs looming trailside. The understory here is a mix of red huckleberry, salal, evergreen huckleberry, Oregon grape, and sword fern. The trail will take you down a short dip, then it’s back up a ridge and past another impressive trio of trees, this time old-growth hemlocks. As you near the ridge, the path undulates through shady groves before opening into a grassy slope. Great views here of the Cummings Creek Wilderness from here.
Next head up through this ridgeline meadow, then enter an alder grove which leads up to the Cummins Creek-Cummins Creek Loop Trail East Junction. Take a left here and trek up a rubbly path along the north side of a rise. There’s a signpost here pointing out the Cummins Basin Viewpoint. You'll find the best sights by swinging right on the path behind the summit to a lookout over the Cummins Creek Valley. You can see as far as the ocean on a clear day.
Retrace your steps back to the main trail, and continue to the right up the path, looking for a connection with an old logging bed. You’ll begin a gradual decent here under the branches of alders and through dense thickets of salmonberry. Up ahead is the Cummins Creek-Cooks Ridge Trail Junction, at which you’ll need to take a sharp left to follow the loop down. The path drops down along the ridge crest, slides into a secondary forest, and then leaves the old road bed at the bottom of a saddle. The path winds through old-growth trees, leading out to the Cooks Ridge-Gwynn Creek Trail Junction.
Take a left here, back under the shade of western hemlock, Douglas fir, and some cedars. You’ll hit some switchbacks on the decent, and cross several small gullies that fill with water in the rainy months. Look for the massive Sitka spruces and Douglas firs growing by the trail sides, and then look for Gwynn Creek down below. Pass a state park boundary sign as you enter Neptune State Park and head on to the Oregon Coast-Gwynn Creek Trail Junction.
There’s a footbridge up ahead spanning Gwynn Creek which then leads out to a grassy road. This will lead you out to the Oregon Coast Cummins Creek Trailhead on Forest Road 1050. From here it’s just a quarter-mile to the trailhead.