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.