TRIP REPORT: Fortunately, next-door neighbor Malawi Mountain gets most of the hype, so you should have most of the trail to yourself, except for those completing the loop with that mountain. See Malawi Mountain (hike 84) for the bike or hike up Malawil to Elk Mountain Trail. This great scramble must arguably be among the shortest and steepest hikes in the state from the TH! There is no Malawi fee required, and restrooms are present.
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TRAILHEAD: Elk Creek TH. Take US-26 W from Portland around 20 mi to the exit left for OR-6 W (Tillamook/Banks) 23 mi, turn right for Elk Creek Campground (and TH, milepost 28) less than 5 mi to parking near the gated road, past the concrete bridge (extra gate closed closer to highway in winter but trail still open; 50 mi, 1 hour from Portland).
Navigating the intensely steep hogback ridge up the only way possible using hands, feet, and everything in between!.
ROUTE: Begin past Elk Creek Campground left from the parking area easily on the very long Wilson River Trail, but you will only be taking it 5 mi or so to the signed climber’s path on the right. Head N following the signage on Elk Mountain Trail, steeper then much steeper NW less than 1Y mi to the miniscule, but notable, summit. Travel through the old forest as it thins to the ridgeline, and then you must scramble, using hands much of the time, up the very steep trail and rocky hogback closer to the top. Clearly this would be even more difficult with adverse weather conditions.