Distance: 1.3 miles out and back
Time: 1 hr mosey speed
Nearest town: Scappoose
For this hike, you can start at either end. I began at Rocky Point Road, and it’s downhill all the way to Gilkison. It’s particularly steep near the Rocky Point gate, so the last quarter mile back to the car is quite the climb. The parking is more limited on Gilkison road, but starting there would make for a more satisfying hike with a summit.
Terrain: Gravelly and steep on the Rocky Point side. Forested and wet (muddy even in July) along the creek on the Gilkison end, with lots of overgrown plants and stinging nettle.
I’d never seen nettle taller than me before, but let me tell you, it does exist along Jackson Creek. Your choices are: A) wear long pants B) avoid plants growing all over the path C) be okay with getting stung.
Trail tips: Going from Rocky Point, when the trail splits, keep taking the paths that go downhill. If you’re starting at Gilkison, when the narrow trail comes to the as-wide-as-a-car dirt road, go right up the hill. (If you take a wrong turn, the trail will soon become a dead end.)
Landmark(s): Roughly halfway through the hike, you can find the remains of a log cabin (once burnt down, now with the frame of the house rebuilt) and an outhouse of the same style. In front of the house, there is a memorial plaque for Bob Johnson, a member of the Boy Scouts. My gut (no real evidence) tells me that a scout troop rebuilt the frame of the cabin and then lost money and/or members, so the project was never finished. Pre-Boy Scouts, this property was once host to a shoot-out between a criminal and a group of locals. You can read the entire gripping tale here: [link].
Views: Near the cabin, there is a clearing that faces northeast, with a great view of Mt St Helens. Nearby, there is also a hill overgrown with thistles that you can climb up and get a better view of the valley. However, I don’t recommend clambering through the thistles, as you can see the mountain just as well from the road.
If you wanted to make the hike shorter (and avoid the steep hill perpendicular to Rocky Point), you could start at Gilkison, hike up to the cabin, and then turn around back to the car.
by Emily Gass
Sandwiched between the Columbia River, the Coast Range and Portland’s Forest Park, lies an area rich in countryside, hills, forest, bodies of water, and logging history.
But unless you live out here, Columbia County just seems like a semi-rural section of highway on the drive to the coast.
Because Forest Park is over 30 miles long, the land between Portland and “Col-Co” is protected and mostly undeveloped. The southern towns in the county, Scappoose and St Helens, are semi-bedroom communities, whose inhabitants commute to jobs in Portland, Beaverton and Hillsboro. It’s a 30 minute drive to just about anywhere, which allows car owners to find excitement someplace else.
Columbia County and its cities have few parks, limited public transportation, little publicity for attractions, and overall, a lack of opportunity for adventure. But it’s so freakin’ beautiful out here. There are spectacular views of Mt Hood, Adams, and St Helens, and on good days, you can see Rainier and Jefferson. Scenic Old Town St Helens has been used in the filming of several movies, including Halloweentown and Twilight (once in a while you see tourists down there - it’s weird). We are also the home of some great swimming holes and backroads. You won’t find much information about anything online; the popular places are known by word-of-mouth.
I moved back home to Scappoose this past May. While I live here, I’m going to to start an online log for Columbia County hiking, something that is nearly un-google-able. Most property is owned by logging companies or private individuals, so in my posts, I’ll make a disclaimer if needed.
I believe Columbia County has a whole lot more to offer, but I can only prove this theory if I go out and explore.
I’ll let yall know if I find some cool shit.
My dad carries a pistol when he explores up in the hills, because there can be a few wackos out there. I like the areas with signs that say “no hunting” - not only does that tell people they’re not allowed to shoot, but it also tells a hiker that it’s okay to explore here. ie: If it was private property, those signs would be posted next to the no hunting signs.