FAVORITE TRAIL—THE SALMON RIVER TRAIL, WELCHES, OREGON
MOUNT HOOD AREA, OREGON
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Photographer: Fred Marmsater
Runners: Jeff Fisher, 34, and Jenn Love, 28, both
of Portland, Oregon
Beta: Nestled in the mossy, forested southwest foothills of Oregon’s iconic Mount Hood volcano, lies the beautiful Salmon River Trail, entangled in stands of old-growth Western red cedar and Douglas fir, poking through a blanket of vibrant green sword ferns and redwood sorrel.
The first 2.5 miles of this run take the Salmon River Old Trail, which hugs close to the river and is relatively flat. You will experience every shade of green, and be treated to views of the river’s turbulent currents and deep-blue pools. Run this section in late September or October and you are likely to spot spawning Chinook salmon, weighing up to 20 pounds.
The Salmon River Old Trail ends at a trailhead where the Salmon River Trail begins. (This trailhead is another spot to access the trail and has plenty of parking.) The trail falls back into a flowing section amongst a cathedral of giant old-growth trees. After a couple of miles, you will climb out of the canyon to the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness.
After 3.5 miles and a little over a thousand feet of gain, a rocky viewpoint offers great views of the Salmon River gorge. The Salmon River Trail is a true out-and-back, so at any point, you can decide to turn around, or push on. If you want to make a big push you may continue to the trail’s terminus 14 miles upstream!
Distance: Out and back, up to 14 miles one way.
Pro Tip: Get high, or make an overnight out of it! 5.5 miles up the Salmon River Trail is the Kinzel Lake trail junction. Run/hike this steep singletrack 3.25 miles up to the Hunchback Ridge Trail, and checkout the view of Mount Hood from the Devil’s Peak lookout.
Best Seasons: Early to late spring when the creeks are pumping or late fall when salmon are spawning.