Do you want to run a negative split on a trail run? Then the Kings Mountain trail in the Tillamook State Forest is for you.
Of course, that’s because the trail to the summit is straight up, and the return trip is straight down.
The trailhead starts at an elevation of 735 feet (according to my Suunto watch) and the summit sits at 3,245 feet, a gain of 2,510 feet. There are very few spots in that 2.6-mile stretch where you’ll enjoy a level or downhill spot. And in fact, there are some places where it’s steep enough that you’ll be hoisting yourself over rocks with your hands on the ground, boosting yourself up like you’re climbing a ladder.
But reaching the summit will give you some great views of the surrounding Coast Range. On the October Saturday that I ran, it was rainy and overcast, but many of the surrounding mountains could still be seen.
I had considered doing the loop from Kings Mountain around to Elk Mountain and then down the Wilson River trail back to the start. But if the portion up to Kings Mountain is steep, then the trail just past the summit is REALLY steep. The rain was leaving the rocks and dirt slippery, and I bailed on the idea of running the entire loop about three-fourths of a mile past the summit. The trail looked like it would be fun, but I just didn’t feel safe.
Getting there: If you’re coming from Tillamook, the Kings Mountain trailhead parking lot is just east of mile marker 25 on Highway 6, the Wilson River Highway. If you’re coming from the east from Portland, it’s about three-fourths of a mile past mile marker 26. It is also located about 3 miles east of the Tillamook Forest Center.
Staying there: Several campgrounds can be found in the Tillamook State Forest. This recreation guide lists them, as well as locates the trailheads.