Trip Report: Hiking the Salmon River Trail in the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness
Location: Salmon River Trail- Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness
Conditions: Temperature was 50 degrees. Sunny.
Duration: Two hours and twenty minutes, though I didn't stop to have lunch and was traveling pretty light. I would say three hours is more realistic if you stop for lunch or are traveling with kids.
Kid Friendly: Yes, though there is some elevation gain and the top is a little exposed.
Pet Friendly: Yes, I saw a number of doggos on the trail.
Usefull links: oregonhikers.org
This beautiful seven-mile out-and-back hike goes along the Salmon River, through the old-growth forest of the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness, and up to a nearly 2,500 ft. viewpoint overlooking the Salmon River Gorge. Just about an hour from Portland, this is a great hike for those looking to push beyond a short and easier day hike. You can begin at either the east or west end of the trail, for this trip I started at Salmon River West Trailhead. Take Highway 26 East, as if you were going to Mt. Hood, and turn off on Salmon River Road. I’ve hiked this trail a couple of times and there are usually a few cars in the parking lot but definitely leave valuables at home or carry them with you.
To hike up to the viewpoint turn left out of the parking lot and follow the river. After a brief climb, you begin hiking through old-growth forest. It is cool beneath the shade of the trees and peaceful with the sound of the river next to you. The section through the forest is pretty easy hiking, with a few muddy patches. As you climb you’ll encounter a number of streams running down to the river, all of which are easy to cross, though consider bringing trekking poles for balance. If you like fishing consider bringing your rod because there are a number of places to fish from the shore. Be careful though, Salmon spawn in the river and redds, or nests of eggs, are present in the gravel beds and will be disturbed by wading.
A couple of miles into the hike you enter the Salmon Huckleberry Wilderness. You’ll pass a map and a registration box when the season is open. The trail climbs up and away from the river. There is a nice spot to have a drink and catch your breath where the trees part, giving a preview of the view of the Salmon River Gorge to come. Emerge from the trees and hike up a rocky trail to the first lookout point. You’ll have a nice panoramic view of the Salmon River Gorge. You can stop here but I would suggest hiking on, the trail goes into the forest, climbs up a couple of switchbacks, and then puts you on a flat, rocky bluff a little above where you were just standing. This would be a great place to stop and have lunch before hiking back. This lookout area can be a little windy so bring layers just in case. Hike back the way you came to return to the trailhead.