The Tillamook Forest Center’s trail guide has an 8.6-mile route called the historic hiking loop. We added a few extra miles with Storey Burn trail and Gales Creek trail. It does require crossing HWY 6 and scrambling up the burm to Rogers Camp trailhead.
These trails are all used in the Tillamook Burn 50 mile course and some are in the 50k, which made a great preview run with Daybreak Racing. We started from Gales Creek campground, which has plenty of parking and picnic spots for recovering after the run.
This loop is approximately 14 miles with around 3000 feet of ascent and is virtually snow-free from late March until late October. The trails are shared with mountain bikers and equestrians. Be cautious when crossing logging roads and OHV trails as they are allowed for motorized use. Be aware that target shooting is also allowed in this section of the forest. So expect to hear gunfire during the run.
From Gales Creek Campground, take Gales Creek trail towards the Summit trailhead. After 2.2 miles of climbing, cross the highway. There is a little deer trail just west of summit to cross over the burm that gets you to Rogers Camp. Take the Nels Rogers trail for 1.6 miles through some clear cut forest that allows views of the south side of the forest. Cross Beaver Dam Road where the trail turns to Wilson River Wagon Road Trail. This is a historic wagon route that follows the South Fork of the Wilson River. This 4.2-mile section is the easiest part of the loop.
At University Falls Rd., the trail turns into Gravelle Brothers trail. A quarter-mile after the road crossing, look for the University Falls sign on the left. Take the short out and back to enjoy the 55-foot falls of Elliot Creek over basalt cliffs. Continue on Gravelle Brothers Trail to the Storey Burn trail junction. Turn left on Storey Burn and the trail starts to ascend.
In about a half-mile, Storey Burn trail dips under HWY 6 and the climb continues for another mile. The trail then descends for 2.5 miles to a bridge and the connection to Gales Creek trail. Turn right on Gales Creek for .8 miles to head back to the campground and the finish of the loop.