Herman Creek Trail, Herman Creek Trailhead, Portland - Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Herman Creek Trail - 22.2 miles
Herman Creek Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||22.2 miles (see distance notes in the description)|
|Start-End Elevation:||245' - 4,275' (elevation @ the PCT junction)|
|Elevation Change:||+4,030' net elevation gain|
Herman Creek Trail - 22.2 Miles Round-Trip
The Herman Creek Trail runs 11.1 miles from Herman Creek Campground to the PCT in the Mark O Hatfield Wilderness. Herman Creek supports the highest concentration of old growth fir, cedar and hemlock in the Columbia River Gorge, though you'll have to travel 4+ miles to reach the heart of this impressive forest.
Trail connections for Herman Bridge, Nick Eaton Ridge, Gorton Creek, Casey Creek, Mud Lake, Ant Hill, Wahtum Lake and Chinidere Mountain offer routes of varying length and difficulty through the gorge and Hatfield Wilderness.
Grades are generally moderate and steady, enabling day hikers and runners to reach deep into the valley.
Backpackers will find developed sites at Herman Camp, Casey Creek, Cedar Swamp, Seven-and-a-half-mile and Noble. Expect down trees along the way, though regular maintenance keeps impediments to a minimum.
This long trail doesn't touch the namesake creek until reaching Seven-and-a-half-mile Camp, but numerous creeks en route provide reliable water with a few notable falls.
Herman Creek's reputation for kinetic water features may be overstated, but it does deliver on old growth, and is one of the best gorge trails for running and solitude.
This description details travel to Cedar Swamp (7.1 miles), with additional information up to the PCT junction:
The Herman Creek Trail switchbacks to a powerline clearing (.2 miles); follow signs across up to the Herman Bridge Trail split (.58 miles : 565'). Keep straight on the duff-padded road-trail past splits for Herman Camp - Gorton Creek Trail 1.3 miles : 985') and Nick Eaton Way (1.4 miles : 1,005').
Here the trail narrows and gradually tilts down to Nick Eaton Falls (2.15 miles), a modest waterfall that slips down moss covered walls. It rises back with valley views from oak-lined cliffs to the Mark O Hatfield Wilderness Boundary (2.7 miles : 1,130').
It hops Camp Creek and steadies in a pleasant if non-descript forest to Casey Creek Camp and the Casey Creek Trail (4.0 miles : 1,502').
The campsite is set among large trees, and there's an unmarked trail that drops approximately 300' in .3 miles to the confluence of East Fork Herman Creek and Herman Creek on the north end of Woolly Horn Ridge.
This is a worthwhile side trip, and fine destination for day hikes (8.6 mile roundtrip, including the confluence spur). From this point on Herman Creek Trail follows the East Fork under Woolly Horn Ridge to its source at Mud Lake. You'll notice higher concentrations of large trees beyond Casey Creek.
The Herman Creek Trail continues over Slide Creek, which has a nice fan fall just steps upstream (5.0 miles : 1,865'). It crosses Mullinix Creek (5.3 miles : 2,005') then Whiskey Creek (5.75 miles : 2,145'), which can be wide and deep enough to get wet.
Grades steepen past Whiskey Creek among notably large trees to another stream cross (6.7 miles : 2,740') leading to Cedar Swamp Camp and the Herman Creek Cutoff-Gorton Creek Trail split (7.1 miles : 2,960'). This flat, boggy area supports large cedar trees, but is not necessarily the best place to camp and draw water. Information beyond this point is general, taken from the USFS and publicly available resources:
The Herman Creek Trail continues up to Seven-and-a-half-mile Camp and crosses the East Fork (7.7 miles) to Noble Camp. Travel steepens to connections for Mud Lake and Ant Hill before moderating through patchy meadows to the PCT (11.1 miles : 4,275').
- N45 40.962 W121 50.558 — 0.0 miles : Herman Creek Trailhead
- N45 40.726 W121 50.562 — .58 miles : Herman Bridge Trail split
- N45 40.816 W121 49.749 — 1.3 miles : Gorton Creek Trail junction
- N45 40.740 W121 49.619 — 1.4 miles : Nick Eaton Trail split
- N45 40.401 W121 49.322 — 2.0 miles : Mild grades high above creek
- N45 40.060 W121 49.086 — 2.55 miles : Views across oak-lined cliffs
- N45 40.100 W121 48.962 — 2.7 miles : Mark O Hatfield Wilderness Boundary
- N45 39.821 W121 49.056 — 3.3 miles : Mild-moderate climb in mixed forest
- N45 39.346 W121 48.704 — 4.0 miles : Casey Creek Camp
- N45 39.069 W121 48.178 — 4.75 miles : Fast, deep woods travel
- N45 38.688 W121 47.937 — 5.3 miles : Cross Mullinix Creek
- N45 38.375 W121 47.819 — 5.75 miles : Cross Whiskey Creek
- N45 37.651 W121 47.575 — 6.7 miles : Cross stream
- N45 37.425 W121 47.360 — 7.1 miles : Cedar Swamp Camp
- Cedar Swamp is flat but boggy, and not necessarily the best terrain for camping. Continue approximately .6 miles to Seven-and-a-half-mile Camp for better terrain and drinking water.
Camping and Backpacking Information
Camping Rules and Regulations
- An overnight fee is required (see rules and regulations).
- Group size is limited to 12 individuals or any combination of people and stock.
- Camp in established sites whenever possible. Sites are first come, first served. Some may be closed for restoration.
- Bury human waste 6-8" deep, at least 100' from any trail or water source.
- Campfires - Columbia River Gorge NSA: Campfires are permitted in the CRGNSA, with potential seasonal and area-specific restrictions. Up-to-date rules are posted at the trailhead and along the trail.
- Campfires are permitted in the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness, but with location and seasonal-specific restrictions. Up-to-date rules are posted at the trailhead and along the trail.
Rules and Regulations
- A valid Recreation Pass is required to access the Herman Creek Trailhead ($5 day use fee | overnight use requires payment for two days). Complete the form and display as directed at the trailhead board.
- The Herman Creek Trail enters the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness, where a free day / overnight use permit is required. These forms are available at the wilderness boundary. Complete the form and carry with you as directed.
- Dogs must be leashed at all times.
Directions to Trailhead
Directions to Herman Creek Trailhead:
From Portland (and points west):
Travel east on I-84 to Exit #44 / Cascade Locks. Drive under the highway and through town for 1.8 miles to the eastbound entrance ramp. At the stop sign, cross the road and drive 1.6 east toward Oxbow Fish Hatchery and Herman Creek Campground. Follow the narrow road through the campground to the trailhead parking lot.
From Hood River (and points east):
Travel west on I-84 to Exit #44 / Cascade Locks. Make the first left turn from the off ramp and pass under the highway to a stop sign. Turn left (east) on the frontage road to the Herman Creek Campground. Turn in and follow the narrow road through the campground to the trailhead parking lot.
Note that when the winter gate is closed you'll have to walk an additional .5 miles up the access road to the trailhead.
Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
902 Wasco Ave | Suite 200
Hood River, OR 97031
Hood River Ranger District
6780 Highway 35
Parkdale, OR 97041
Mt. Hood National Forest | Headquarters
16400 Champion Way
Sandy, OR 97055
Hours: Monday – Friday, 7:30a – 4:30p (closed 11:30 – 12:30)