Tillamook State Forest & Gales Creek Campground, OR
After discovering and enjoying Gales Creek and the Campground during our hot spell here this summer, I decided to take my sister hiking there. I am a little delayed in posting about this adventure … we actually went back in September. This time, while the weather was still warm, it was considerably cooler than it was during my previous visit.
After parking in the day use area near Gales Creek, we chose the first hike we found a sign for. It turned out to be the Gales Creek Trail along the Low Divide Creek, a moderate hike just under 3 miles leading up to the Wilson River Highway/Highway 6 and the trailhead.
The narrow hard packed dirt trail led us up from the creek to another parking area just off the highway. For much of the trail we could either see or hear the creek and crossed a number of little bridges crossing streams flowing to the creek. They say that there is an old train trestle somewhere along the path. Though I was looking for it, I never saw it.The path is obviously a well-used one. While I wouldn’t say it was crowded, we did run into a couple of mountain bikers, two families with kids and a trio with their dogs. Everyone was polite and the bikers followed the trail rules and yielded to us hikers.
Once we reached the trailhead, we found a sign with a large map of the local trails there in the Tillamook Forest. I wanted to cross the highway and take a different trail that would curve and bring us back to the Gales Creek Camp from the other side of the creek. That trail was a little over 4 miles and my sister was not up for the additional distance, even as slight as a mile. I have to admit, there were places where the trail had been steep enough for me to question its “moderate” designation. As this turned out to be a destination hike, I was glad we had started out from the bottom of the trail; when we turned around and went back, it was all down hill! The dog trio sadly did the opposite, and when we met again on our respective returns, they were tired and puffing.
When we arrived back at the camping area we took advantage of the creek to wade and cool our hot feet. The camp was full and bustling, and we were not the only ones in the creek!
Me being the “hey – do you wanna ___?” one in my family I had another suggestion for my tired sister. Just a short distance, about 13 miles, down the highway from the Gales Creek Campground is the Tillamook Forest Center. Despite it being late in the day, while sitting on creek rocks I suggested we go check it out. My sister reluctantly agreed.
We arrived at 4:45, 15 minutes from closing. I know I say this often – I want to go back! There was fire lookout tower to climb, a free museum, a multi-sensory theater and more. I didn’t realize until stopping that the Tillamook forest is the largest state forest in Oregon and that as a temperate rainforest it receives over 120 inches of rain every year!
Tillamook Forest Center
5500 Wilson River Highway Tillamook, OR 97141 (near mile marker 22)
Tillamook State Forest Gales Creek Campground
18001 Rogers Rd. Glenwood, OR 97116 (Right off Wilson River Highway / Hwy 6)