Jackson Creek Trail
Distance: 1.4 miles
Walk duration: 1 hour – round trip
Travel time to trail head: 35 minutes
Elevation change: The trail starts at 1221 ft, and drops down to 839 ft. as it rteaches Gilkison Road.
This trail is the linch-pin that connects the closer-in trails located on curved swath of hill sides from Burlington, past Cornelius Pass Road and Logie trail to Rocky Point Road, with the enormous forest range that begins to spread out in all directions above Scappoose. From here on the predominant feature of the land is uninterrupted forests, with occasional homes nestled in the verdant carpet that extends across the rest of NW Oregon.
2.77 miles up Rocky Point Road from US 30 is the entrance to the Jackson Creek Trail. It is .45 miles below the intersection of Rocky Point Road and Skyline Boulevard.
Rocky Point Road is a very windy road, but near the top is passes through two clear cut areas. The first clear cut area is reached after a particularly tortuous set of twisting curves. The second clear cut that we pass through is another 1/4 miles beyond this point. At this clear cut you emerge into the clear cut and immediately see a blue gate on your right. Another gate is visible just beyond it on the left. At this point you’re entering a left bending curve with a young forest growing on either side of the road. At the very edge of the clear cut on your right is a private driveway heading directly north. Immediately beyond that in the curve of the road is another “blue gated” forest trail heading directly north. This is the trail head. There’s plenty of room to park your car near the gate.
Beyond the gate the trail heads due north, heading gently down the slope for 1/10th of a mile, before bending leftwards and continuing on in a northwesterly direction. At this point you will pass a less used side trail that climbs the hill to your left. This is a short spur road that dead-ends further along the slope.
Keep a sharp eye open along the verge of the forest as you continue, as I have occasionally found chanterelles along this part of the trail.
Log Cabin: Continuing in a generally northwesterly direction for a half mile (from the gate) you eventually enter a cleared area at an elevation of 1125 ft. At the north end of this clearing you will find a ruined log cabin set amongst the trees. The cabin bears a plaque to commemorate Bob Johnston who evidently built and cared for this idyllic cabin, which belonged to came Boy Scout Troop 221. Local folklore has it that the place was subsequently used by a drifter. Neighbors eventually chased the drifter out after nearby residences experienced increased pilferage, but during the unwelcome resident’s departure the cabin mysteriously burned down.
Tucked into the woods nearby is the remains of the log cabin outhouse which still stands as a mute testament to the beauty and endurance of log cabin construction.
Descent to Gilkison Rd:
After examining the remains of this once beautiful cabin, and wondering whether the obvious evidence of reconstruction means that it will someday be rebuilt (I have no answers to this), we turn back to the road and proceed downhill. The road now takes a series of bends, with a short spur leading out to a clear cut area .1 mile below the cabin. But we will stay on the main road as it curves back around and passes below a clear cut slope. This is an area much frequented by deer, elk and even cougars. Here is an example of a cougar foot print found on this stretch of the road. Keep in mind that I have never actually spotted a cougar in all my hundreds of solo walks, and there has never been a recorded cougar attack in Oregon. So there is no need to be afraid.
As we continue down the trail through the aforementioned “S” bend, we emerge at the base of a small clear cut hillside. The path runs along the bottom of this slope and appears to disappear into the bushes at the far end. But just continue on past the shrubs and young trees that partially block the path and you will emerge at a ‘T” in the path. The right hand option turns uphill, and a slightly less distinct left hand path descends the hillside. The upper path traverses the hillside for a while before getting lost amongst the private tracks belonging to a residence to the east of Jackson Creek.
The “T” intersection is about .3 miles below the cabin at an elevation of 1000 feet, and we want to take the lower road and descend parallel to Jackson Creek, which you can hear coursing through the underbrush on your right. The initial portion of the trail is partially obstructed by overhanging branches and shrubs, but gradually the trail turns northward while dropping to 940 feet in elevation. About .2 miles down the trail flattens out and crosses a seeping water source that creates a lush area of vegetation, and in the winter creates a muddy spot to cross. After about 300 feet of relatively flat ground the trail once again dips as the trail turns to NNW. All along this trail you will encounter brush and fallen alders obscuring the trail, but just continue to press onwards and you will be rewarded as the path reasserts itself turning in a westerly direction. Another 300 ft onwards the trail turns back to its original NNW direction and begins dropping from 900 feet in elevation to 840 feet in elevation as it emerges at the green gate on Gilkison Rd.
From here one can go on and visit the Vedanta Society’s property and tour their unique collection of shrines, including the awesome Native American Shrine.