Looking for a climb with a little running in between? Well, then the Elk-Kings Mountain loop is for you. This 10.8-mile route has 3300′ of hand over feet climbing.
Starting from the Elk Creek trailhead, take the Wilson River trail for a short trip to the start of the Elk Mountain trail for a 1.3 mile, 1900 foot climb to the summit of Elk Mountain. That’s just the beginning!
On clear days, enjoy views of Mt. Hood and the Pacific ocean before the trails start to descend down a craggy ridge, requiring hands and well as feet to continue forward. Eventually, an old road emerges as a runnable trail. Two and a half miles after the Elk summit is a three-way trail junction. Take the Kings Mountain trail to continue on to the traverse.
The Kings Mountain trail is the last section of the loop to be snow-free, usually in the middle of spring. Ropes have been added by the Mazamas to help hikers and runners navigate the difficult terrain. One mile from the trail junction is the 3205′ high point when the summit of Kings Mountain is reached. Take in the views of the coastal range and the Pacific, then prepare the quadriceps for a steep descent of 2200′ in two miles.
At the end of the Kings Mountain trail is the Wilson River trail. Turn left on the Wilson River trail for 3 rolling miles of dense forest and creek crossings. Follow the trail to the trailhead to where the loop started.