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Final Elk – Kings Mtns. Post

This is the last post about hiking in the Kings Mountain / Elk Mountain area (at least for the time being). This past Saturday I did the Elk Mountain / Kings Mountain traverse loop: starting at the Kings Mountain trailhead, along the Wilson River Trail to the Elk Creek Campground Trailhead, hiking up Elk Mountain on the “front side”, across to Kings, and back down to the Kings trailhead. Beth and Ruairí joined me on the 3.5 mile Wilson River Trailhead segment, which included the challenge of crossing the creek with the washed-out bridge. I did the remaining 6.5 miles myself.

This was my first time up to the Elk Mountain summit on the “front side”. The only word for this trail was “relentless”. It hardly ever stopped going uphill, straight uphill. It’s as if whoever laid it out had the attitude, “switchbacks, we don’t need no stinkin’ switchbacks”. This can be seen on the elevation profile: in the first ¾ mile, it gains 1500 feet:

A few more pics follow. This week, the wildflowers were coming into full bloom on the higher meadows, which made for a colorful foreground for the great views in the distance (click on each for a full-size image).

Elk Mountain Summit

This past weekend I went with one of the groups from Troup 581 doing the King’s Mountain / Elk Creek Trail trip, although I went as a day hike on Saturday only.  I went with the group who hiked up the Elk Creek Trail to the Elk Creek Trail / Elk Mountain Trail junction, where the two groups planned to meet up and camp for the night.  Since I didn’t get to the Elk Mountain summit during the previous week’s hike, I decided to do it this time.  It was 0.8 miles over to the Elk Mountain Trail / Kings Mountain Trail intersection, covering a route I’d done last week.  From there it was 2.0 miles to the Elk Mountain summit, approaching from the “back side”.

Those two miles started out fairly easy, being an old abandoned logging road for roughly the first half:

Things changed quickly when the logging road ended. Yes that is the trail, and it runs straight ahead:

Here are a few more pics; click for full-sized originals:

Kings Mountain – Elk Creek Trail Trip Report

Hi, Barry here.

On May 12th I “scouted” out the route of the planned Troop 581 Kings Mountain – Elk Creek hiking outing.  I started at the Kings Mountain Trailhead, where the more-difficult of the Saturday morning hikes will start (point A on the topo map below).  I made my way up Kings Mountain, then down the north side to connect to the Elk Mountain Trail.  I then travelled Northwest on the Elk Mountain Trail (i.e., away from the Elk Mountain summit), to the intersection of Elk Mountain Trail and Elk Creek Trail (point E), which is the planned Saturday night camp area.  I then followed the Elk Creek Trail down to the Elk Creek Campground (point F), which is the planned Friday night camp area.  I then took the Wilson River trail (which parallels Highway 6) back to the Kings Mountain Trailhead.  The Wilson River Trail is not shown on the topo map, and is not part of the planned Troop 581 hike.

 The trail to the Kings Mountain summit is an excellent, well-maintained trail.  Trails in this area have been “adopted” by the Mazama organization, so I guess we have them to thank.  The “gotcha” is that it has a challenging elevation gain of about 2500′ along its 2.5 mile length.  Almost all of it is wooded, until you arrive at a meadow above the tree line just before the summit.  You end up doing alot of switchbacks; the turns tend to be very steep, separated by straight sections that are a bit less so.  Just before breaking through the trees you come to a picnic table, built by another BSA troop as an Eagle project (see photo in the gallery below).  From there it’s a short hike through the meadow to the sign at the summit.  You’re rewarded with fantastic views of the surrounding Coast Range.  I did this section in 1 hr 20 minutes, plus a 10 minute fluid-replenishment stop at the picnic table.   However, I was only carrying water, lunch, and other Essentials in my day pack; if I was hauling an overnight backpack it would have taken much longer.

The trail up Kings from the south is in great shape, but things changed quickly going down the north side headed over to Elk Mountain.  The trail plunges steeply before ascending just as steeply and then joining up with the Elk Mountain trail.  This section is only 1.3 miles long, but is clearly the most challenging part of this hike.  My GPS recorded slopes of about ±55% in this section.  Footing is soft in spots as well.  The trail is narrow and stuck to the cliff sides in parts, but unlike some online reports, I never felt any of it was dangerous; I never got that “Oh no if I slip I’m gonna tumble 100’s of feet down this cliff” feeling.   

By Point B on the topo map you get to a short, very steep ascent where the Mazamas have placed a rope.  This is very helpful, although it would be nice if it was about 20′ longer.  😉  Once you haul yourself up the rope it’s just a short hike before you get to a ridge that pops above the treeline (very windy crossing the ridge).  This marks the end of the hardest work in this hike.  After a short downhill bit you get to point C on the topo map, where the trail changes from single-dotted line (trail), to double-dotted line (road).  From then on the trail is actually an old logging road, and seems like a stroll in a park compared to the previous sections.

Soon you meet up with the Elk Mountain Trail (point D), which in this section is also an easy old logging road.  Another 0.8 mile stroll brings you to the intersection with Elk Creek Trail (point E), the planned Saturday camping spot.  Just before you get there you encounter a few large snow patches, which would be one possible water source for Saturday night.

Just past Point E there’s a creek shown on the topo map.  At first I couldn’t see any sign of it, but in the quiet surroundings I heard the faint gurgling sounds of water, and found a wet spot on the cliff side (see photos in galley below).  It would be enough for the inlet of a water filter.  In addition, on the Elk Creek Trail just downhill from the Elk Mountain Trail intersection is another small stream, not shown on the topo map, but with alot more water.

There’s not alot of flat camping area in this spot, other than some wide spots on the trail.  Ground is hard, mixed gravel/dirt, so staking out tents will be more of a challenge than it is on pure dirt. 

The Elk Creek Trail is another old logging road that is now a hiking/mountain biking trail; it’s an uneventful 4 mile hike back to the campground.

The planned Toop 581 hike will end at the Friday night campground (point F) , although I had to hike the 3.5 mile distance on the Wilson River Trail back to the start.  The most notable point along that segment is a washed-out footbridge across a large creek (Point G).

Topo Map

Topo Map of the Route, composed of USGS map segments. Click for full-size image.


Elevation Profile for the hike. Section on right is Wilson River Trail (not part of Troop 581 hike). Click for full size image

The Oregon Department of Forestry has put together a very nice brochure with information about these trails.  You can download it at:

The following gallery photos were taken along the route, in left→right, top→down order.  Click on any photo for a full size image.

Open for Business!

Sunday, May 13th (Mothers’ Day) was the first sale day for Beth and Ruairí’s new farm business!  What started back in October with the arrival in the mail of 80+ day-old chicks finally led to the business’ first appearance at this year’s Hillsboro Farmers’ Market in Orenco Station.  This weekend they just sold eggs; with plans to add egg salad and deviled eggs next week.  The weather was great and the good news was that they sold out!

The new booth for the Farmers' Market, all set up!

Vernonia-Banks ½ Marathon and Marathon

Hi, Barry here.

On April 15, 2012 the Oregon Road Runners Club presented this year’s editions of the annual Banks-Vernonia ½ Marathon and Marathon races.   Vernonia is about 20 miles north of Banks, at the other end of the Banks-Vernonia Linear Trail.  The races did one circuit around Vernonia Lake, and then headed out onto the Trail.  The Marathon finished on the track at Banks High School.  The Half finished at the Tophill Trailhead, about 8 miles south of Vernonia where the Trail crosses Highway 47.

The ½ Marathon was “walker friendly”, with an early start for walkers and slow runners, one hour ahead of the main field and a maximum time of 4 hours.  Lately I’ve been hiking about 13 miles most Saturday mornings, including some steep hills in Stub Stewart State Park; it takes me between 4 and 4½ hours., So I gave the Half a try, hoping to do it in 3:30 or better.  I felt good enough at the 10 Mile mark that I was able to jog the last 3 miles, and finished in 2:53:13.

Ruairí snapped this photo of me with 50 yards to go.  The morning started out dry but cool, so since I was walking most of the way I wore lightweight long pants and a windbreaker (both bought at the Columbia Employee Store; thanks Thadd):

Beth took this one of myself and Ruairí at the finish, with my well-deserved banana:


Next on tap is the Helvetia Half Marathon on June 9.    I already have my number for the Portland Marathon on October 7, another “walker friendly” race. Hopefully I’ll eventually be able to jog more than 3 miles at a time.  Jogging uses some different muscles than just walking though, and Sunday afternoon and Monday I was pretty sore.

Hillsboro to the MAX!

Ruairí is a member of the Hillsboro Community Youth Choir, a non-profit community youth choir whose mission is “committed to promoting excellence in choral music and is dedicated to enriching the lives of youth by instilling a life-long love of music through performance and education.”  During the week of 5 February, 2012, members of the Choir performed the play “Hillsboro to the MAX“, an entertaining musical journey through local history. Ruairí played David Hill, an early pioneer and founder of the city of Hillsboro. 

The choir did three performances, including the first in the restored Venetian Theatre, a local favorite in downtown Hillsboro.  Here’s a video of Ruairí doing a solo performance of Stephen Foster’s Oh! Susanna, during the third performance at West Union Elementary School:

We Clean Up Pretty Well

Here’s proof that we can dress up fancy when we need to.  Beth and I travelled down to San Francisco May 13 & 14 for the Intel Achievement Award banquet at the historic Westin St. Francis Hotel.  Friday evening we had a nice dinner in Fishermen’s Wharf, and Saturday we visited the Cable Car Museum and the Museum of Modern Art.  We had a great time!  I even had a “formal” black arm sling. 😉

Our New Tree

For many years we had a small, misshapen Asian Plum tree in the middle of the lawn. It finally succumbed a few years ago and we removed it. We missed having a tree in that location, and this Spring decided to do something about it. But we didn’t just want to get the typical little starter “stick” nursery tree that would take years to grow big enough to provide any shade. So a few weeks ago we went to Big Trees Today and picked out a nice Emerald Queen Maple. They delivered and planted it this past Friday, and we’re thrilled with how it looks. It’s leafed out quite a bit since when we saw it, and looks bigger and nicer now that it’s away from the other trees at the tree farm. As you can see in the picture, Ruairí’s a fairly tall guy, and it towers over him.

First Real Post

This is the new O’Mahony family blog.  Hopefully, this will allow us to publish updates and information more quickly and easier than in the past.  Stay tuned.