- Rating: Moderate
- Activity: Hike
- Distance: 4-14 miles
- Time: 3-4 hours
This trail winds for 14 miles into the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness, but luckily for day hikers, the most scenic portion occurs in the first four miles or so, where it undulates along the banks of the Salmon River—one of the few rivers nationwide that claim the Wild and Scenic designation for their entire length. After a short rocky section, the trail (No. 742) becomes a soft, needle-covered path that curves through a classic Oregon forest laden with mushrooms, moss, ferns and lichens. At the wilderness area’s boundary, the trail curves away from the riverbanks and climbs steadily up, where it finally emerges on the edge of a hillside, with views of the surrounding buttes and, in the ravine far below, the frothing river. Turn back here or continue into the woods for an hour—or even days.
ROUTE: This easy-to-follow route ambles straight along the riverbanks; maps mark the trail’s entrance and also the entrance to the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness. For longer explorations, pick up a 2006 copy of the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness U.S. Forest Service Map (which includes trails of the Bull of the Woods and Opal Creek Wilderness Areas) at Powell’s or by calling the Mt Hood National Forest Headquarters (503-668-1700).
DIRECTIONS: Follow U.S. 26 east to the town of Zigzag and turn right on Salmon River Rd (just in front of the Subway). Follow this road for approximately five miles, past numerous Old Salmon River Trail (No. 742a) markers to the well-signed Salmon River West Trail on the left. A Northwest Forest Pass or equivalent is required.