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Gales Creek Trail

 4.0 (16)
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9.9 Miles 15.9 Kilometers


1,801' 549 m


-1,569' -478 m



Avg Grade (4°)


Max Grade (14°)

2,521' 768 m


908' 277 m


Shared By Brock Warner



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A long, great, tough singletrack climb. This is one of the crown jewels of Tillamook State Forest.

Brock Warner

Dogs Leashed

Features -none-


Gales Creek Trail is among the best cross-country trails in Tillamook State Forest. This long, challenging ride can provide a real sense of accomplishment, but it can also break the spirits of those less prepared.

It's a good idea to think of the trail as being split into two parts, divided by the summit at the Bell Camp Road Trailhead. The southern portion is a longer, more gradual climb up to the summit and the better part to ride. The northern section is much shorter, but also substantially more steep.

Starting from the southern trailhead at Gales Creek Campground, the trail follows its namesake for a number of miles up the valley. After only about three-quarters of a mile, the trail crosses a bridge and immediately T's at a junction. Heading left would start the steep, sinewy climb up the Storey Burn Trail.

Turning right continues on Gales Creek Trail. The trail is often within sight or earshot of the creek as the singletrack winds along the ravines and gulleys that drain into Gales Creek. It makes for a lot of short, punchy climbs and brief flat stretches, always causing the legs to burn. It can feel rewarding nonetheless. Although not very technical for the most part, the ever-changing direction of the trail will keep you on your toes.

At about five-and-a-half miles, a short but super fun reroute of the trail brings some obvious MTB-inspired flow to the trail and is a blissful section... if only it was longer. The last half-mile is the steepest climb yet, but seeing the small parking lot for the Bell Camp Road Trailhead lets you know you're at the summit. This marks the end of the southern section of the trail.

Continuing north on the trail begins a very steep downhill as the trail loses all of the elevation it just gained in about half the distance. Unfortunately, it's not very fun riding. Much of the upper mile is almost straight down with few switchbacks. It begins to mellow out eventually and the bottom mile or so feels more like the first part of the trail.

The Triple C Trail and Step Creek Trail loops can be found at the northern end of this trail, but only the strongest riders will want to add these to their day, because that intense downhill must now be conquered in the opposite direction to get back. It's exhausting and brutal and might rob you of any sense of accomplishment for the ride. Many riders should consider just doing the Gales Creek - Southern Climb. There's no shame in it.

The trail is well signed and easy to follow.


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Your Check-Ins


May 12, 2018
John Cunningham
Apr 4, 2018
Chris Kisio
A little muddy in spots, but the rest of the trail was prime.
Jun 24, 2017
Richard Fitzgerald
bonk! 29mi
Jun 14, 2017
Brock Warner
Ride up to Bell Camp was challenging but awesome. Huge mistaking going down to Reeher's Camp. Too steep, not enough energy. Great trail overall. 20.3mi — 4h 20m
May 19, 2017
Paul James Jr
From top of hwy 6 to day camp up to Bell Camp rd and back. With the exception of a few run off areas that cover the trail, great condition! 17.3mi — 2h 36m
Apr 16, 2017
Richard Fitzgerald
Rode lower section from Summit and back on Story Burn 7.3mi — 1h 18m
Mar 28, 2017
Paul James Jr
As much as I wanted it to not be, to my disappointment Gales Creek trail still has yet a ton of fallen trees. Better option would be Browns Loop.
Jan 29, 2017
Ryan Miller
still covered in snow and ice. too many fallen trees to ride trail. 1.5mi

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 16 votes


  4.0 from 16 votes
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in Oregon


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5,350 Since Jul 28, 2017
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It looks like there is access to the top via the road. Is running a shuttle possible? Sep 13, 2015
The upper 1/2 mile (at mile 5) has be re-routed and rides similar to Communication Breakdown at Sandy ridge Jun 21, 2016
Ken C  
Rode this two weekends ago. It was very fun. One down tree. Trail was dry. It's a good long climb from the campground, not too steep. Beautiful trail! Of course coming back down was a blast....! Ride now, make yourself happy! Caution: Some turns can be a little "blind". More hikers in the first 3 miles from campground. Sep 25, 2017

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