Wilson River

  • Level: Moderate
  • Length: 7.8 miles
  • Elevation: 600 ft. gain
  • Type: Out and back
  • Open: all year
  • Permit: n/a
  • Drive time from Portland: 1 hour
  • Google map: “Jones Creek Campground”
  • Features: Tillamook State Forest, swimming holes, camping, waterfalls
  • Pair with: University FallsVernonia Mill

This trail is such a gem because it’s only an hour from Portland, beautiful and you’re sure to find at least one promising swimming hole. Secrets revealed! Most of it nicely ambles along with only a few short inclines and declines. The only downside to it is the proximity to highway 6, which you can hear for some long stretches. Still totally worth it.


I chose this trail because I really needed to get out, even though my day-two-period-addled bod wasn’t feeling super up to task. It was the perfect choice. Blue green pools, wildflowers, waterfalls. It’s a good “talking trail,” though, I know some of y’all will talk through any damn trail.


From the trailhead:

When you pull into Jones Creek Campground, ignore the first paved lot on the right and drive over the bridge making the first left into a gravel lot. The trail is right by the sign board. Turn right along the river. After 0.4 mile you’ll reach a big suspension bridge that leads to the Tillamook Forest Center, which is free, if you wanna stomp around and explore that. Otherwise, skip the bridge. After a half mile or so, the trail joins with gravel Cedar Creek Road, ducks under a powerline, crosses Cedar Creek on a footbridge and starts to climb for a mile or so up to Wilson River Falls. I love this elusive waterfall! It’s about 60-feet tall, lacy and mostly obscured by fallen logs, so it’s kind of hard to take in and easy to just breeze by, but I thought it was mysterious. After another 1.4 miles, you’ll reach a signed T-shape junction. Turn left for the Footbridge Trailhead. From here, the trail gets kind of weird, but you won’t get lost. You’ll make a couple of left turns, cross over a little sandy island and keep your eyes open to the right for the bridge over the basalt gorge. Cross the bridge and then carefully jog left along highway 6 a little bit and cross the highway (again, carefully) to the signed, Bridge Creek Falls. Climb the stone steps to this wispy 40-foot falls and return the way you came.

Elusive Wilson River Falls

The beautiful gorge under the last footbridge to Bridge Creek Falls

Stone steps to Bridge Creek Falls


View this post on Instagram

These monsters are real.

A post shared by Jenny Bruso (@unlikelyhikers) (@jennybruso) on

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