The Herman Creek trailhead is a lesser-known area for hikers and runners than Eagle Creek and Multnomah Falls, but it can still get crowded on the weekends. Casey Creek, Indian Point, Gorton Creek, Nick Eaton, Green Point Ridge, Rainy Lake, and Wyeth trails can all be accessed from the Herman Creek Trail. One of the most popular loops from Herman Creek is the 22-mile loop with a climb up to Chinidere Mountain. The loop has over 5700′ of climbing.
The loop can be made in either direction, but running it counter-clockwise finishes on the Herman Creek trail has more water access to filter from on hot days. Start by heading up Herman Creek Trail #406 for a half-mile where the loop starts. Then, turn right at the Herman Bridge Trail #406E, where the trail crosses Herman Creek and starts climbing toward the Pacific Crest Trail.
After a mile on the Herman Bridge Trail is the PCT junction, where the elevation is 940′. Turn left on the PCT and climb the switchbacks for 4.5 miles and 3000′ of ascent to the Benson Way trail. Continue on the PCT to Benson Ridge for the most runnable 3 miles of the loop. Benson Ridge sits above the Herman Creek and Eagle Creek Basins and offers expansive views of the forest and the Tomlike Mountain Ridge.
Pass a few more trail junctions as the PCT will go from perfectly manicured dirt to a technical rock plate. Mt. Hood will show through the burnt trees from the Eagle Creek fire. Look for the Chinidere Mountain trail on the left at 11.5 miles into the loop.
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The faint Chinidere Mountain Trail climbs a quarter-mile to the top. Expect high winds at the 4673′ summit, but the views here are worth it. Spend some time getting nutrition and taking in Mt. Hood’s scenery and the rest of the volcanoes. Wahtum Lake is visible just below the Waucoma Ridge.
Descend back down the PCT and continue left to Chinidere Cut-off Trail. Turn right at this trail for an extra 2.5 miles around Wahtum Lake, connecting back to the PCT. Shortly after Chinedere Cut-off is the PCT and Herman Creek junction. The PCT also continues to Wahtum Lake but bear left on Herman Creek Trail #406 to complete the loop to the trailhead.
At its peak, Herman Creek is one of the last trails to melt in the Gorge. Make sure you have a trail finder app on your phone because the trail could be snow-covered for a couple of miles. There is another faint trail up to Tomlike Mountain. It’s closed at the time of writing this article. Continue the descent to Cedar Swamp Camp and the Herman Cutoff Trail through old-growth hemlock, firs, and cedars. Stay on Herman Creek Trail for 3.1 miles past three waterfalls to the Casey Creek Trail. Another 3.2 miles past the Nick Eaton Trail and the Gorge 400 Trail will get you back to the trail junction of Herman Bridge Trail and a short jaunt to the parking lot.
There is a fresh water spring that runs year round just west of Herman Camp, been meaning to clear a path down to it, used to be a formal trail but has been gone for at least 10 years now :) EP