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TRAILHEAD: Kings Mountain 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). Begin here for the longer hike or bike up Elk Creek Trail. Lock up a bike as a shuttle if you are hiking Kings Mountain Loop to Elk Mountain and drive almost 31/2 mi farther on OR-6 W to the signed Kings Mountain TH (milepost 25) and small lot on the right (50 mi, 1 hour from Portland).

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ROUTE: From Kings Mountain TH take the only trail past the signage briefly up to the juncture at the end of the loop (without a shuttle bike or vehicle) on Wilson River Trail (right, NE to Elk Creek TH). Stay straight (NNW) on Kings Mountain Trail through alder, ferns, and fir with wildflowers throughout, and with mostly Douglas fir on the higher slopes. The wide trail steepens after a mile as you ascend a couple gullies with creeks.

There are no real switchbacks to speak of on this direct route up, but keep in mind that as punishingly steep as it may be, the direct route up to Elk Mountain is even steeper! After 2 mi or so (ignoring side trails) is a microbreak as an old road meets the trail; continue on Kings Mountain Trail to rise up meadows on the SW ridge with views of your goal and the surrounding Tillamook State Forest. Resume clawing away to the NE over bumps, using hands at times, as you scramble loose, rocky steps on a traverse below the summit block. Enjoy paintbrush, phlox, bear grass, and others as the trees and flora thin to the tiny peak and highest point of the loop.

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