Posting this has been a challenge. Technology and I have had an epic battle today. I win. Since we started this adventure, my sister and I have spent a lot of time researching using the Portland Field Hikers Guide. When I was putting in specs for a longer hike a few months ago, I found the Wolf Creek Trestle Hike. I thought it sounded pretty darn cool, but it was definitely outside of my comfort zone. I was kind of terrified to do it, but I knew I wanted to.
The hike itself is pretty remote, but it’s also in a really remote location. It doesn’t have a standard trailhead and hordes of people, it’s just a road. It’s just a road that is nestled in a labyrinth of unlabeled gravel roads that meander through the Tillamook National Forest. The directions say things like, “you will reach a five way junction, take the second road on the left.” I HATE getting lost so this was definitely a deterrent. It didn’t matter though. We made up our minds to do it and it was happening. Sometimes to truly experience beauty, you have to step outside of your comfort zone and power through the crippling fear.
We drove straight to the parking spot described by the Field Hikers Guide. I don’t know what we would have done if it didn’t work out. That forest is seriously a maze of roads. We saw no one else, so asking for directions was totally not even an option. Once we got parked we headed down the jeep track road next to the railroad tracks. The jeep track road lasts for about a mile and passes a beautiful pond. Then the road ends and you hop up onto the train tracks for the remainder of the hike. The tracks have about 15 washouts where they twist and dip and the earth beneath them disappears. In these places, well-maintained side trails lead you to safety and then back up onto the tracks.
When we hit the first tunnel we were scared. We watch a lot of horror/apocalypse movies and our minds went terrible places. Despite our head lamps it was dark. It was substantially darker for my sister because she didn’t take off her sunglasses. She was totally freaked about how dark it was and it was all in her head. I even asked her to stop and take a photo in the tunnel and she wasn’t having it. The tunnels on the trail are awesome. There are two.
We hit our first major trestle shortly after the tunnel. Of course, it was the most terrifying one. It was a straight, long drop, and there was no where to walk but the actual railroad ties holding the whole thing together. There were also some branches on the tracks. We slowly and cautiously negotiated the branches and my sister only thought about moving them on the way back. Duh. It was seriously scary. The rest of the trestles were easy-peasy in comparison. They had pathways for pedestrians. This hike is not for anyone with a fear of heights.
The total hike is 10 miles in and out. When we reached mile 5 the trail just dead-ended. There was this little bench made out of railroad ties, so we sat there and ate our Subway by the creek side. It was lovely. Throughout the entirety of the day, we saw one other person. As we were exiting the first tunnel on the way back (about two miles from our car) we saw someone coming toward us on the trail. He was wearing a bright orange vest and had a rifle over his arm. He asked if we had seen any deer. We had not. Once we told each other to have a good day and kept walking, I made some jokes about “the most dangerous game” and freaked myself out. For the rest of the hike I imagined him coming up behind us and taking me out. Stupid imagination.
We made it safely back to the car and negotiated the crazy gravel road all the way back to Timber, the closest “town” to our hike.
It was a scary hike. The tunnels and trestles really freaked us out, but we loved it. We were also a little uncomfortable with the shear remoteness of our location, but in the end it was a day beautifully spent. I highly recommend it. My niece would describe the hike as “skoopy.” Just be prepared.
For information about the Wolf Creek Trestle Hike click here.