Two weekend's ago, Ben and I decided to load up and drive in a coast-direction toward Tillamook, home of my favorite Oregon cheese. But, in some misguided and healthy fashion, we stopped short of that promised land and went for a hike along the gorgeous Wilson River instead. It was no cheese factory with unlimited cheese samples or an ice cream counter serving up 24 delicious flavors, but we probably lost a pound rather than gained it in dairy-calories. Oh, the trade-offs.
The Wilson River Trail, or Jones Creek Traverse, is about 7.2 miles long from the Jones Creek Campground near the Tillamook Forest Center. The hike weaves along the river (which is a short way from Highway 6, meaning you can see and hear cars) that is speckled with anglers. The river is gorgeous and green and the trail is peppered with little tributaries that flow over the path and down into the rushing river below. It was all moss and ferns and peace in the woods, and though an ATV/ORV road runs along the trail to the right, we didn't see anyone out but quiet fisherman.
The trail then heads up a ridge in some beautiful undergrowth to the Wilson Falls. The falls are beautiful but are literally on the trail, meaning your shoes are quite likely to get soaking wet trying to cross this feature on the trail. To get a photo, Ben had to stand in the waterfall and precariously peer upward to see it falling. Well worth it!
From there, the trail climbs back down the ridge, with about 2-3 switchbacks down, crossing some footbridges made of giant logs to the Footbridge Trailhead along Highway 6 again. As this is a pull-off with river access it was a bit more crowded, with some great views of the river. The hike is an out-and-back, so after that, you just turn around and do it again. One way is about 3.6 miles.
I loved this trail - some lush forest, an unexpected waterfall, and constant river views - but it is close-enough to the highway to hear some pretty frequent car noise. If you can tune it out, it's pretty peaceful and wild.